Ever since session began, I have been hearing about inappropriate material in K-12 public school libraries and classrooms. At first, I thought that it was just a few of the larger districts where those problems were. As the session continued, I heard of more and more schools where those materials had been found, and not just in the large schools. Parents have a fundamental right to know what is being taught to their kids in Iowa classrooms, and what is in their school libraries. Iowans are not polarized on this issue. The vast majority agree with legislation that allows parents to view classroom instructional material when it is convenient and useful for parents. Working parents have little time in their days to check on a daily basis with teachers to find out what is being taught to their kids. This week, House Republicans passed HF 2577 which requires school districts to provide a link on the district’s website to the electronic catalog of all books available to students in their school library, and to provide a protocol for parents to prevent their child from checking out specific books. It also requires teachers to post classroom instructional material by the end of each week so it can be viewed by parents who choose to do so. The plan empowers parents while not overburdening teachers. Specifically, this is how it works for teachers in the classroom and parents at home – at the end of each week teachers need to have updated their classroom management platforms with the instructional material used during the week. If a teacher fails to update the platform by the end of the week, they are allowed 14 days to correct the problem. Teachers are busy and mistakes can occur while managing students and/or multiple classes. It is up to parents to review the classroom management platform to stay current with what is being taught. If they object to any material, they can take that objection to the teacher, the principal, the district superintendent, the school board, or the Board of Educational Examiners.
One final point: After we worked with the teacher’s union to make changes that ensure this bill is feasible for teachers, the Iowa State Education Association registered as neutral on the bill. If they thought it was really going to burden teachers with hours of extra work, I do not believe they would have registered as neutral, they would have registered as against.