We are ending week two of the 2022 Legislative Session. Week one was all about hearing from our leaders on the condition of our state, our Judiciary, and our National Guard. In week two we got down to business, as committee work began, and we started to consider the Governor’s proposals for the legislative session. In this week’s edition of Freedom Watch, I will discuss in more detail her education proposals and the pressing need for change in our education system.
In Governor Reynolds’ Condition of the State Address, she talked about hearing the pleas from parents for more transparency in education. During the COVID pandemic, parents were able to see in real time what was being taught in the classrooms and for many it raised concerns and questions. Parents have made these concerns abundantly clear to Democrats, Republicans, school board members, superintendents, principals, and teachers. Along with Governor Reynolds, House Republicans will work for solutions that support parents and students while also considering the concerns of our educators.
Governor Reynold’s education proposals include:
- Requiring Public Schools to publish their class materials on school and/or district websites where parents and families can review it. Information required includes course syllabuses or written summaries, state academic standards, and titles of or links to textbooks used for classes.
- Requiring Public Schools to publish a comprehensive list of books available in their libraries and providing information about the process for filing a concern about a book. If the concern is not addressed by the school district within 30 days, it can be appealed directly to the State Board of Education.
- To ensure compliance, the Governor’s proposals include withholding state funding from schools that do not comply with these requirements.
Throughout the 2021 legislative session and continuing to present, Iowans have expressed their concerns about divisive concepts taught as fact, using the principles of Marxist-inspired Critical Race Theory. House Republicans took the lead and passed legislation preventing these concepts from being taught in school absent a larger discussion with opposing viewpoints. As the 2022 legislative session gets underway, House Republicans have heard about questionable topics being taught, as well as materials and books being used in schools, with parents feeling they have little knowledge or control over what their children are exposed to. Parents are reasonably requesting greater transparency, and Republicans intend to do our best to give it to them.
I believe the vast majority of our public schools and educators are doing incredible work. Let us face reality; they are in many cases having to fulfill roles and responsibilities once left to parents, but with the disintegration of the family unit that has taken place in our state and nation, some parents are simply not fulfilling these responsibilities, forcing schools to take up the slack. There is a profound lack of respect for authority permeating our culture and our classrooms, and the lack of discipline and work ethic amongst some of our young people today, made all the worse by absent parents, has created incredible challenges in our classrooms. We are truly blessed to have educators willing to accept these challenges, fighting incredible odds to try and make a positive difference in the lives of young people. They deserve our respect and appreciation.
Unfortunately, there are a few school districts and educators who do not understand their roles, are ignoring parents, and are seeking to indoctrinate their students with their own ideology. The Ames Community School District was not seeking to educate during their Black Lives Matter Week of Action last year; they were seeking to indoctrinate their students with Marxist ideology that scapegoated entire groups of people, while also incorporating LGBT ideology into their curriculum. Incredibly, elementary children in some cases were told they could decide to be male, female, both or something else. We heard from hundreds of parents and educators astounded and upset by this indoctrination, with a large amount of undeniable evidence provided. Similar indoctrination has also happened in a few other districts in our state; it is the reason we held House Government Oversight Hearings, it is why we passed several pieces of legislation in response, and it is why we will continue to take the actions necessary to stop it.
The recent incidents in some public-school districts that exposed parents to the indoctrination taking place, as well as other unrelated incidents in which some educators were not held accountable for wrongdoing, has exposed the need to revamp our Board of Educational Examiners in the Iowa Department of Education. Unfortunately, this Board has demonstrated that in its current construction it is unable or unwilling to fulfill its role of bringing accountability to the system and policing its own. I appreciate that the House Education Committee is working to address this issue.
It is unfortunate that the vast majority of our public schools that are doing it right, particularly in our rural areas, will deal with the consequences of those school districts that are doing it wrong. The need for those doing it right to have an intense conversation with those doing it wrong is obvious; for ultimately all will deal with the changes required by those choosing to forget that they are public schools accountable to the parents and children they serve.
We deeply appreciate those many educators and school districts working hard to meet the needs of their students. We appreciate their dedication as more and more obligations are placed upon them as a result of what is happening in our society and with our families. We applaud their efforts to deal with mental health and substance abuse issues as they do all in their power to be there for their students. We will listen to their voices, as we also take the actions necessary to ensure that the voices of parents are heard, and the values of our state and nation are respected.