Improving accountability in education | News, Sports, Jobs
This week we passed House File 2577, a bill to increase parents’ access to information about what their children are being taught. Under this bill, school districts and teachers are required to post the curriculum, textbooks, related core materials, and a list of instructional materials on an online portal that parents can access. Most teachers already use an online platform and this requirement will be easy to meet.
Schools that do not yet have a classroom management software system will have until July 1, 2024 to upgrade. Teachers can update their postings throughout the year. They are required to have all material uploaded by the end of the week it is used. This allows teachers to provide their students with material about current events and find the most engaging material.
This bill also requires that a catalog of every book in the school library be available online. A parent can then tell the school if there are books that their child is not allowed to borrow. The teacher has 14 days to correct any violations. Failure to do so will result in a civil penalty being levied against the district. The teacher will also be referred to the Board of Educational Examiners for potential sanctions on their license.
I have heard from many parents in my district as well as across the state about inappropriate materials that parents had never heard of in classrooms and school libraries in Iowa. This is not only true in urban areas, but throughout Iowa.
For example, the book Tricks, which contains explicit passages, was recently discovered in 80 school districts in Iowa. If you want to read the passages for yourself, you can contact me. But I can assure you that the content is very explicit, and very raw.
Iowans largely agree that sexually explicit material has no place in our children’s schools. Elementary students should not learn about sexuality. A teacher should not use his position to impose his political ideology on his students. These are not radical ideas, it is just common sense and decency.
We want to trust our public schools to educate, not to indoctrinate, but these days we can’t just trust, we have to verify. There is power in information. With this bill, parents can see what their children are being taught and what books they have access to.
If they see things they don’t like, they can remove their child or hold their school district accountable. But how can bad actors be held accountable when parents are left in the dark? They are your children, not the governments. Parents have a say in the education of their children.
This week, Republicans in the Iowa House passed our education budget proposal on the House floor. In this bill, we have proposed an innovative new funding approach for Regent Universities in Iowa to help address Iowa’s workforce crisis. Instead of simply appropriating new funds for the Regents’ General Fund, the bill provides $12 million for scholarships for students preparing for needy jobs. Students in their junior and senior years of the qualifying programs will receive scholarships of $5,000 per year.
This money is in addition to the usual appropriation from the Regent’s General Fund which was otherwise held at the level of the last session. State and Regent universities need to be better partners in meeting the state’s workforce needs. This new funding will encourage Regents to recruit more students for the jobs we need here in Iowa.
Another important bill passed in the House this week is Senate Docket 577 which creates a birth certificate for non-viable births such as miscarriages that occurred after January 1, 2000. In the past, such a certificate would not was not available to grieving families experiencing the loss. of a child during pregnancy.
The certificate will be available for any non-viable birth after a heartbeat is detected but before 20 weeks of pregnancy, when a fetus is considered viable under current law. This pro-life bill, which recognizes that a child in the womb with a beating heart is a person, passed unanimously in the House.
I will endeavor to update you in the coming weeks as we progress on these priorities. As always, I look forward to hearing from you and visiting you by phone, email, or in person at the Capitol or in the District.
Dean Fisher, a Republican from Montour,
represents Iowa House District 72.
Contact him at [email protected]