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Iowa House Republicans sent out their newsletter on Thursday. One particular section stood out to me. It was called:

Parental Choice, School Transparency Key to House GOP Efforts

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Obviously, I read it. And unsurprisingly, in the end, it was more snatching defeat from the jaws of victory by Iowa House Republicans.

The first paragraph detailed how parents view public education has changed since COVID. And it said there is “no good reason why curriculum is kept secret.”

The second paragraph states parents have a right to know what is being taught, what materials are being used, who is coming in to speak and what books are being utilized.

“When the parent has access to their child’s education, the parent can decide if they want to opt their child out of something,” it states. “The parent, not the state, not the school and not even the teacher, should be on the one that gets to decide.”

Yeah. We get that. And that’s where things sort of took a turn.

“All that being said, House Republicans passed legislation that unfortunately died in the Senate to get at this very issue. Parents want transparency and House Republicans approved a workable solution which achieved that,” it said.

Well, this is partially true. I think fact-checkers call it three Pinocchios. House Republicans did pass their own version of a transparency bill, but not before House Republicans watered it down.

Remember this line from the article:

When the parent has access to their child’s education, the parent can decide if they want to opt their child out of something,” it states. “The parent, not the state, not the school and not even the teacher, should be on the one that gets to decide.”

As the House GOP newsletter states, schools and teachers were “concerned” that changes would “overburden” them. So, “in the interest of cooperation,” House Republicans met with education groups to figure out the “best path forward for parents and the most workable solution for teachers.”

The compromise ended up not being a transparency in education bill, but a transparency-after-the-fact in education bill.

That’s because teachers would be allowed to update their plans after information was already presented to students.

So again, from the House GOP’s own newsletter:

“When the parent has access to their child’s education, the parent can decide if they want to opt their child out of something.”

I know some amazing Iowa parents who care about their child’s education, but I don’t know any of them amazing enough to turn back time and opt their child out of a lesson their child already sat through.

The kind of transparency parents are looking for only works when it is prior to the damage being done, not after the fact. Yet that is not what the House bill provided, despite the House GOP claiming:

“Simply put, it is on the parent to review the instructional materials and opt-out if that is what is best for their own child.”

Can’t do that if you don’t find out what the instructional materials are until after they’re used. That makes it very difficult to opt out. Some might even say it makes it impossible.

But then the article ended with an almost apologetic two paragraphs about efforts to “ban books.”

“Contrary to what the left-wing activists and Democrats on social media might tell you, this bill did not ever ban books or target teachers,” the article said. “Comments about book bans were deliberate falsehoods and easy fodder for progressive social media mobs.”

Fancy word salad, but please, tell us you are accepting of the Left’s premise without telling us you are accepting of the Left’s premise that removing certain books from school libraries qualifies as a “book ban.”

“As for books in school libraries, no books were banned,” the article states.

OK. So does this mean that House Republicans are OK with books labeled as adult sexual content by Google and violating Facebook’s community standards on sexual activity being in school libraries? And if someone isn’t that makes them a book banner?

Please.

The parent is able to begin the process for the selection, reconsideration and removal of materials from libraries operated by the district.

A number of parents did this last year. Some were successful. Many were not.

“The school district and board are the decision-makers,” the article said. “If the parent is unhappy they can appeal to the State Board of Education who will make the final decision. If parents are unhappy with the final outcome, then replacing school board members with pro-parent individuals is always an option.”

In other words, don’t look to Republican House legislators to provide any protection for kids from these obscene, pornographic materials in school libraries.

“Nothing in that process is a book ban,” the article said.

Who cares if it is? Honestly. If we’re talking about keeping a book like Gender Queer out of every taxpayer-funded school library in Iowa, call it whatever you want.

Do Iowa House Republicans believe that book is appropriate for any school in any school district in the state of Iowa? Because ultimately, they are voting to fund these schools.

Look, the Iowa Senate has passed Education Savings Accounts for some Iowa families each of the last two years. The Iowa House has killed it both times.

So that whole “parental choice” thing at the beginning of the headline is a bit disingenuous.

The Senate also had a transparency bill. Ultimately neither side passed the other’s.

But what makes the House’s article so disappointing is the repeated statement over and over and over about how it isn’t a book ban.

Again, if it gets books like Gender Queer out of the school library, who cares what it is called?

Here is the full article from the Iowa House GOP:

The way in which many parents view public education has shifted since parents got a glimpse into what their children were learning with the rise of online schooling due to COVID.  Republican legislators have heard time and time again that parents would like more and reasonable access to the curriculum and content, not to mention basic transparency from the school boards, administrators and teachers. Parents simply want to know want to know what is being taught to their kid without it feeling like it’s being hidden from them. Because there is no good reason why curriculum is kept secret.

When it comes to one’s own child, parents have a right to know what is being taught, what materials are being used, who is coming in to speak, and what books are being utilized. When the parent has access to their child’s education, the parent can decide if they want to opt their child out of something, if they want to make sure they discuss issues with their child, or if they need to speak to the school about a concern and get questions answered.

The parent, not the state, not the school and not even the teacher, should be the one that gets to decide.

All that being said, House Republicans passed legislation that unfortunately died in the Senate to get at this very issue. Parents want transparency and House Republicans approved a workable solution which achieved that.

School districts and teachers were concerned that any changes would overburden them with additional work. In the interest of cooperation, House Republicans met with education groups to figure out the best path forward for parents and the most workable solution for teachers.  The end result was the culmination of many meetings and iterations of the original bill. Contrary to what the left-wing activists and Democrats on social media might tell you, this bill did not ever ban books or target teachers. Comments about book bans were deliberate falsehoods and easy fodder for progressive social media mobs.

The House Republican bill allowed parents to opt their child out of using certain classroom instructional materials. Transparency requirements allowed the parents to review what was used inside classrooms. A parent is not deciding for somebody else what their child will be reading but they also are not giving up their right to protect their child from objectionable material.

Teachers are responsible to post instructional material and parents are responsible to review it. Simply put, it is on the parent to review the instructional materials and opt-out if that is what is best for their own child. As for books in school libraries, no books were banned. Instead, parents would be provided access to the school’s library catalogue, whether it is an online or physical catalogue, and can decide if there are specific library materials they do not want their child to check out. Again, it is the parent’s choice. A parent would be able to begin a process for the selection, reconsideration, and removal of materials from libraries that are operated by the school district. Not a ban, but a process. This process begins with the parent, goes to the school district, which goes to the school board. The school district and board are the decision-makers. If the parent is unhappy they can appeal to the State Board of Education who will make the final decision. If parents are unhappy with the final outcome, then replacing school board members with pro-parent individuals is always an option.

Nothing in that process is a book ban. Parents are working with the school district and school board to decide what is best. It is not the parent against the school and school administrators, teachers and board members need to see parents as partners not problems. Parents and school districts should be working together to look out for the best interest of the child while respecting the parents’ right to make decisions about their OWN child’s education.

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