(Videos are all courtesy of Accuracy In Media. Learn more about them here.)
Iowa educators have been caught on undercover video discussing how they circumvent House File 802, a bill that banned teaching 10 divisive concepts as fact last year. The organization, Accuracy In Media, spent just a couple of days in the Hawkeye State while putting together the interviews.
Educators in Urbandale, West Des Moines, Johnston, Waukee and Saydel are on camera discussing working around the law and pushing Critical Race Theory in Iowa schools despite last year’s HF 802.
It is yet another reason lawmakers may want to consider supporting Education Savings Accounts, an issue that has kept the Iowa legislature from adjourning as the Iowa House Republicans refuse to support the party platform principle.
Urbandale’s Ryan Williamson tells Accuracy In Media that House File 802 has not had any impact on the district.
”It really hasn’t affected us at all,” he said. “Have we had to shift our language? Absolutely.”
Williamson said the law hasn’t stopped the district from talking about equity, implicit bias, explicit bias and privilege. He said the district still talks about systemic racism, it just can’t blame systemic racism on certain people.
When asked if there is push back from Trump supporters:
”Oh hell yeah,” he says.
Williamson noted it is “good work” and the “right work.” He said Urbandale is working to get its staff to a certain point, but pointed to Waukee as a glowing example.
”Waukee — they’ve got a plan,” he said. “They’ve got a framework.”
When asked if politicians can stop it, he said “politicians really can’t stop it.”
”802 — it’s there, we have to be mindful of it, we just have to shift our language a little bit in how we go about it,” Williamson said.
Urbandale uses social and emotional learning to bridge the gap as well.
Williamson is asked if they can teach that systemic racism is inherent in capitalism:
”Absolutely. We can say that because that’s truth. That’s based in fact.”
Finally, Williamson talked about the lack of teeth in House File 802.
“When 802 was drafted and written into state law, there was no teeth behind it,” he said. “There was nothing.”
Waukee’s Lindsay Law says she is proud of the district’s social studies curriculum for K-5 which recently adopted a foundation in social justice standards. They also have implemented a lot of social and emotional learning.
Like Williamson, Law noted that House File 802 “doesn’t have any consequences.”
”It’s like, ‘don’t break the law, but there’s like no stipulation,’” she said.
Law said House File 802 “chills the movement.”
Rather than using the term privilege, Law said they talk about circumstances.
Law also lamented complaints the district received for using equity standards that came from Learning for Justice, which was under the umbrella of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Johnston’ s Nikki Roorda said the district doesn’t use the term “anti-racist,” but instead talks about cultural acceptance.
”It’s just, it’s, you know, it’s the game that we play,” she said.
Anthony Ferguson, who works for West Des Moines, said he doesn’t have to call it Critical Race Theory to “know what we’re doing.”
Finally, in Saydel, an educator talks about making it a priority to increase equity, diversity and inclusion. They’ve increased library selections and classroom libraries to be “a bit more diverse.”
“I think that there are a lot of people in this country that now feel that it’s safe, um, to say we don’t want our kids to learn about the horrible things that people that look like us did,” she said. “That’s what I think.”
She adds later the need to put resources out that are diverse for kids to “peruse.”
Newsela was a constant topic of conversation as well. Newsela states it is made up of educators, parents, siblings and friends who “aren’t satisfied with the quality of the content our students are exposed to. We know they deserve better, and are committed to bringing authentic, engaging, diverse and accessible content to all learners.”
Newsela has worked in partnership with — The 1619 Project.
And many districts are using it.
Clearly last year when the Iowa Legislature thought it addressed an issue it left some gaping holes. Educators appear to be intent on pushing “the movement,” to share a phrase from Lindsay Law.
They do this regardless of what Iowa moms and dads want for their children.
There is one solution dangling out there to this problem — allowing Iowa moms and dads to choose which school is best for their child without worry about financial cost.
Iowa legislators should support Education Savings Accounts for Iowa families. They deserve it. These interviews recorded by Accuracy In Media make it clear — let parents decide. Give them a choice. Give them relief. Give them freedom.