Idaho Department of Education Requests Public Review of State’s Standards

Published October 2, 2015

The Idaho Department of Education (IDE) is requesting comments from the public regarding the state’s Common Core math and English standards.

House Bill 314, called the Idaho Standards for Learning Challenge (ISLC), passed during the 2015 legislative session and was signed into law by Gov. Butch Otter (R). ISLC requires IDE to review Idaho’s standards. IDE asked for “specific input” on the standards, which the state adopted in 2011.

The public will be able to comment by going to a website, where visitors will be allowed to vote “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” after reading the standards. This is the full extent of the invitation for comment.

“I’m surprised that Idahoans are allowing their state Department of Education to get away with such a closed process,” said Sandra Stotsky, a professor at the University of Arkansas.

“Apparently, reviewers are being allowed only to comment on existing standards, as if the organization of those standards were sacrosanct, and as if there weren’t a lot of missing standards … that need to be taught and assessed in Idaho, as well as elsewhere,” said Stotsky. 

“But not only do closed minds lead to a closed process, it seems that elected or appointed state board members, [including] Gov. Otter himself, aren’t willing to demand an open process that allows parents and teachers to recommend a different organization and the kind of standards that lead to deeper learning and critical thinking,” Stotsky said.

Wayne Hoffman, president of the Idaho Freedom Foundation, a nonpartisan government watchdog group and research organization, told School Reform News the Idaho standards are “great for bureaucrats, but horrible for students.”

“What Idaho and the rest of the country should be doing is to stop treating students like machine widgets and start creating a modern education system that actually meets the needs of individual students,” Hoffman said.

“Additionally, states shouldn’t be developing standards that align with one another,” said Hoffman. “States should be competing to develop the best, highest, and most rigorous education standards so that our kids can compete globally.”

Bruce Edward Walker ([email protected]) is a policy advisor for The Heartland Institute.

Image by woodleywonderworks.