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Idaho Education Notecard Feb. 23

This week’s education headlines:

Unabridged — and official. After three years of rancor and rewrites, the Senate Education Committee has approved a set of school science standards. The Senate vote nullifies House attempts to edit the standards, and remove some references to climate change. The science standards debate drew national media attention — and drew teachers, students and scientists to the Statehouse to testify in favor of robust standards. You can find more information here.

Arming teachers. The Feb. 14 mass shooting at a Parkland, Fla., high school has reopened a national discussion over school security — and arming teachers. This isn’t a new debate in Idaho, since state law allows school districts to write their own firearms policies. A few Idaho schools allow staffers access to firearms on school grounds, while other districts and charters use a variety of other security protocols. You can find more information here.

Budget developments. The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee started the week Monday by recommending a $100 million increase in K-12 spending. The hearing was newsworthy in its brevity; the committee passed $1.8 billion in budget bills with no dissent or debate. You can find more information here. On Wednesday, JFAC slashed the budget for one of Gov. Butch Otter’s top legislative priorities: a higher education “CEO.” You can find more information here.

Red tape, closed doors. State superintendent Sherri Ybarra has assembled 17 school administrators to review state education laws and rules as they relate to accountability. The group is expected to look at a host of reporting requirements, from teacher evaluations to literacy plans. But on Wednesday, the group met behind closed doors. You can find more information here.

‘I am done.’ After weeks of political drama — and a rescinded resignation — New Plymouth High School Principal Clete Edmunson is officially stepping down. The turmoil surrounding Edmunson’s job sparked a student walkout and a no-confidence vote targeting Superintendent Kevin Barker. Edmunson, a former state legislator and gubernatorial aide, says he will seek a superintendent’s job elsewhere in Idaho. You can find more information here.

Kevin Richert is a reporter and blogger with Idaho Education News ( Idaho Education News is an independent news site focused on education 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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