The Iowa Senate Education Committee approved a bill that would allow pupils who are siblings to be assigned to the same classroom if requested by the parents. The principal may recommend classroom placement, but the principal should provide the placement requested by the parent or guardian.

There are exceptions should disruptive behavior ensue. It applies for students from kindergarten through fifth grade.

Senator Eric Giddens (D-Cedar Falls) did not support the bill in subcommittee and expressed his disdain for the legislation in committee.

“As a professional educator myself, I just have a concern about this bill and I need to stand with teachers, educators and administrators in preserving the integrity of the profession,” Giddens said. “I think that educators should have the final decision as professionals as to what’s in the best interest of the students in terms of their placement in classrooms.”

Senator Ken Rozenboom (R-Pella) disagreed with Giddens.

“Well I wasn’t intending to speak,” he said. “But in my view the parents should be the final arbiters of that. The basic, family social unit needs to be there. Their wishes should prevail.”

Senator Jackie Smith (D-Sioux City) said the topic came up at her last education forum.

“There was strong opposition from superintendents, school board members and teachers,” she said. “I don’t feel I can support this and I would urge people to resist it.”

Senator Herman Quirmbach (D-Ames) asked Sen. Chris Cournoyer (R-LeClaire) to yield. Cournoyer has experience as a mother of twins as well as a school board member.

Her twin sons are in sixth grade.

“Every year I talked to professional educators,” Cournoyer said.

She said they separated the twins in pre-K. It worked, so they continued doing so until fourth grade. With two sections in the school and problems arising with one of her sons and another student in the other class, her twins were placed in the same section.

“I put the trust in the teachers, but I also felt like I was sharing my concerns and I was listened to and we were all in agreement and came to a good conclusion,” she said. “It wasn’t a fight, it was just a good conversation, which ended in a good result for the boys, which is our goal.”

Senator Amy Sinclair (R-Allerton) said she was unaware the issue is a hot topic.

“I’m not the mom of twins and I thank God every day for that because one boy at a time is plenty,” Sinclair said. “That being said, I do believe that the ultimate authority in what’s best of any child resides with the parent. This bill acknowledges that fact. It doesn’t exclude administrators, educators or anyone from being a part of that conversation.”

Democrat Senators Claire Celsi (D-West Des Moines), Smith and Giddens.

Jacob Hall

Author: Jacob Hall