On Tuesday, we finally had our hearing with leaders from the Ames Community School District. The hearing lasted 105 minutes and included rigorous discussion about what happened in Ames and what is continuing to happen in Ames. To recap, the school district said it would be deriving its curriculum for the week based upon the “13 Guiding Principles” from a national group called “black lives matter at school week of action”. Ames posted the national curriculum on their website and teachers could use the posted link as a resource in the classroom. The resources contained many concerning materials for parents and teachers in the district.
Just a sample of concerns brought by community members were:
- A 4th-grade vocab sheet that included terms like”
- “androsexual”, “bicurious”, “biphobia”, “cisnormativity”, and “hermaphrodite,”
- In the 6th grade folder online there was a video that contained drug use and video of strippers dancing
- An Ames child of a police officer was told that their parent’s profession was wrong
- In the online materials, there was a voter guide that promoted liberal causes and claimed that Voter ID laws were “racist political maneuverings”
- An opt out option was not readily offered to parents and students who opted out were bullied.
In the hearing Ames leaders offered concerning comments as well:
- While teachers could opt-out from the curriculum, all teachers are expected to complete critical consciousness training in the coming years if they haven’t already. Critical consciousness training is an explicitly Marxist ideology
- Ames Superintendent Jenny Risner stood by Ames school’s false claim that only 3 people spoke against the week of action at the Ames School Board meeting on January 25th. That meeting is publicly available and I encourage you to listen for yourself. 9 people spoke against the material during the school board meeting.
- Superintendent Risner denied knowing about the distribution and use of a 216-page activist training guide to all teachers in Meeker Elementary and a PDF version to all staff in a newsletter. The cover states “defund the police” and is intended to be used as a daily guide on how to be an activist teacher. I do not know what is more concerning, if Superintendent Risner lied about her knowledge of the book, or if she really is not aware of what is being forced on teachers in her district.
What are the next steps?
The House Government Oversight Committee has teeth. The committee is funnel-proof, meaning that we can introduce legislation at any point in the session unlike most other committees. So the committee will take our time to evaluate what was said Tuesday, as well as the comments we have received from the community to determine the best path forward.