Idaho lawmakers: $260 million in education money at stake

With $260 million in federal money at stake, lawmakers on a Senate panel Monday voted to create an interim committee to review and recommend new math, science and English standards for Idaho’s 300,000 students in grades kindergarten through 12.

The Senate Education Committee voted unanimously to send to the full Senate a concurrent resolution to form the interim committee that would meet over the summer.

The House Education Committee last week rejected the current standards, called Idaho Content Standards, that are heavily based on Common Core standards and are often referred to by that name.

The Common Core standards are benchmarks adopted by more than 40 states to describe what students should know after completing each grade. They allow states to compare how their students are doing with students in other states. The National Governors Association developed the standards.

In general, opponents contend they are a federal program with sometimes inappropriate curriculum being forced on states while allowing some companies to profit at the expense of Idaho school children who aren’t achieving better results. Those were the arguments the House Education Committee said persuaded them to reject the standards.

Those in favor of keeping the standards, in general, say the standards are something states voluntarily opt into with identifiable benchmarks that help schools and teachers without setting curriculum.

The education standards in Idaho are subject to the state’s administrative rules process, which is why they are being reviewed by lawmakers.

Even though the House committee rejected them, under the rules, the standards would remain in effect unless the Senate also votes to remove them.

Lawmakers on the Senate committee said during the meeting that they received information from Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra that the state could lose $260 million annually in federal money if the Senate also rejects the standards.

Republican Senate Education Committee Chairman Dean Mortimer said after the meeting that he doesn’t want his committee to reject them. (AP)

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