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A tumultuous week on Capitol Hill

For one tumultuous week, Capitol Hill upstaged the nation’s statehouses on K-12 news. But the Idaho Legislature still had its moments. Let’s catch up.

DeVos divides the Senate. It was a confirmation vote of historic magnitude. The Senate deadlocked on controversial education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos. For the first time in American history, a sitting vice president had to break the tie on a Cabinet confirmation.

More coverage: During her rocky confirmation process, DeVos overstated graduation rates for several virtual charter high schools, including one in Idaho.

But will DeVos still have an agency? A handful of House Republicans want to mothball the U.S. Department of Education, effective Dec. 31, 2018. Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, is among the bill’s co-sponsors. If this sounds like an old idea, that’s because it is; President Reagan took the first serious run at eliminating the department back in 1981.

And what does it all mean? A controversial new education secretary, another move to eliminate the education department, and also an attempt to roll back federal education rules. All in the same week. It all adds up to a little more uncertainty around the Idaho Statehouse.

Political science. The House Education Committee edited Idaho’s latest version of science standards Thursday morning, deleting five paragraphs that referred to climate change. Rep. Scott Syme, R-Caldwell, said the standards did not present “both sides of the debate” over climate change. Next up: a hearing in the Senate Education Committee.

Fridays in Clark Fork. The principal of one of Idaho’s most remote high schools asked his students a simple question: What would your dream class look like? Students wanted everything cooking and welding to radiology and fishing. And on Fridays, that’s what they get.

Kevin Richert is a reporter and blogger with Idaho Education News ( Idaho Education News is an independent news site focused on K-12 policy and politics, funded by the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation. Richert has worked in the Idaho news media since 1985, as a reporter, editor and columnist.

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