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Supplemental State Aid for Schools – The House passed out 2.4% SSA for FY 22, which is a $36.5 million increase for schools bringing total SSA to about $3.4 billion. The state cost per pupil goes from $7048 to $7227. Also included is a $10 increase in per pupil equity to narrow the District Cost Per Pupil (DCPP) gap. School transportation funding received an increase as well in the amount of $800,000. All of this was agreed on by the Senate. A separate amount, a supplemental funding amount, will be decided on and passed out soon. That is intended to cover additional costs  incurred by districts this school year that offered in person learning.

Online Commercial Driver License (CDL) Renewal – This makes permanent the online renewal option for CDL’s offered during the pandemic.

Microchips – This prohibits employers from mandating their employees be microchipped.

Child Care “Cliff Effect” – Some employees cannot take raises or promotions at their workplace because they would lose their child care assistance benefits. This bill restructures those benefits to encourage employees to take advantage of those career opportunities and get off state assistance.

Child Care Tax Credits Increase:  This bill increases the maximum Iowa net income threshold level for purposes of calculating the Iowa child and dependent care credit and the early childhood development tax credit on your individual income tax return. The income threshold is currently $45,000 and will go to $90,000. This will allow more Iowans to claim the credit.

Revenge Porn – A person whose private intimate images are disclosed by another, without permission, may bring a civil lawsuit against the discloser.

Lifetime Trout Fishing License – The Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR) can issue a lifetime trout fishing license to a person 65 or older for a fee.

Tenure Bill up for Debate

We passed a bill out of the House Education Committee that eliminates tenure at the 3 state universities. This applies to contracts entered into or renewed after July 1st. This would make guidelines for employment of faculty eventually all the same.

Tenure securely establishes the employment of faculty at our 3 state universities. A tenured faculty member has wide latitude for teaching and research activity and is rarely dismissed. Reasons for termination can include just cause, program discontinuance, and urgent financial need but they are rarely invoked.

The percent of tenured faculty at our Regents universities has gone down over the years. Yet we find faculty are still employed at the Regents universities. According to a recent Regents report, tenured faculty were 52% of our Regents university faculty 11 years ago and now they are 41% of the faculty. Apparently, it isn’t as important as it has been.

Studies show that in the top 40 colleges: For every 1 Republican college professor there are 12 Democrats. In history departments, there are 30 Democrats for every 1 Republican. This does not reflect diversity of thought. As the Democrat position held by many increasingly reflects a disregard for 1st Amendment rights of free speech, action taken by faculty to silence dissenting viewpoints has become more and more common and brazen. I have outlined examples in previous newsletters.

The original reason for tenure was to protect academic freedom in the classroom. This protection of “academic freedom” has been and is being used now as a club by some faculty to silence and threaten students and even other faculty who do not adhere to the leftist and progressive political viewpoints that are prevalent in our culture. Tenure has been used to protect faculty who violate students’ and even other faculty’s 1st Amendment freedom of speech. Tenured faculty have for all practical purposes, been untouchable and therefore free to, not just exercise academic freedom, but, in some cases, to tyrannize students and others. And some have, at times, taken advantage of that protected position.

In addition, there are a number of complaints of too much use of teaching assistants instead of the professors themselves to teach classes, especially in lower level undergraduate classes.

While this bill won’t ensure faculty respect students’ 1st Amendment rights, it will remove a layer of protection the faculty have.

Should a tenured professor, or any professor for that matter, who violates a student’s 1st Amendment right of free speech be able to keep their job at a taxpayer-funded institution in the state of Iowa? I don’t think so.

Some object to this bill saying it will discourage recruitment and retention of high-quality faculty. If a professor wants to continue being able to violate students’ free speech rights, I hope that person is not recruited or retained in Iowa! If a professor is respecting students’ free speech rights and they are doing a good job, they have nothing to worry about and tenure will not matter.

In addition, in some disciplines, the competition is very stiff for jobs and so whether tenure is offered or not is not a factor in whether a prospective faculty member wants a job.

Who gets lifetime appointments? Even judges and justices of the Iowa Supreme Court are subject to a retention vote every 8 years here in our state.

On tenure, University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld warned in the Waterloo Courier last week that eliminating tenure would result in the politicization of academics.  He said, “And as we start politicizing where we put research, and how faculty conduct research, we’re starting to the tilt the scale of the outcomes of that research.  And I think we should all, as citizens, be real concerned about that.”

If President Harreld is concerned about the politicization of academics and research and tilting the scale in favor of a certain political philosophy, he might want to take a closer look at the course catalog of his own university where it appears indoctrination, not education, is a goal. It’s too late: The University of Iowa has already politicized some of their academics….

The University of Iowa not only offers a bachelor’s degree in Social Justice, described by left and right as an activist progressive philosophy strongly embraced by left-wing groups, but UI also offers classes based in left-leaning ideas.  From the basic course descriptions, it is easy to see how these classes tilt toward leftist thought intertwined with the divisive and oft-questioned critical race theory and the dangerous belief in intersectionality. See a sampling below:

American Studies 3100 Critical Race Theory: Culture, Power, and Society
Examination of the historical context of race and racism in U.S. history; focus on how social structures perpetuate longstanding patterns of racial inequality.

Note:  Critical race theory is a Marxist based ideology that teaches the claim that American institutions, laws, and history are inherently racist.  It imposes an ideology of collective identify on all people of all races.  It suppresses debate, nuance and critical thinking because anyone who questions its tenets, is labeled a racist. 

American Studies 3135 The Social Construction of Whiteness
Whiteness as a socially constructed racial category with material effects in everyday life; race as a category with salience in determining public policy, forming identities, and shaping people’s actions; interdisciplinary approach using social history, philosophy, science, law, literature, autobiography, film, and the expressive arts.

American Studies 5002 Critical Theories and Cultural Studies
Exploration and application of critical theories to contemporary sport; feminism, Marxism, critical race theory, whiteness studies, queer theory, postcolonial theory, postmodernism, and poststructuralism.

Note: Critical theoretic narratives are centered on the idea of moral complicity in societal evils (racism, sexism, etc.) and use sophisticated rhetorical ways to get people to feel guilt and to believe in their complicity.  Critical theory is activist rather than dispassionate or objective.  It undermines the principles of equality, individualism and meritocracy. (Critical Theory expert James Lindsay)

History 3150 Feminist Readings of History
Feminist analysis has revolutionized the writing of history—not only on gender and sexuality, but also on topics as diverse as politics, economics, international relations, and social hierarchies (e.g., race, class, ability, religion); students examine feminist transformations of history with specific topics chosen by instructor.

Poli Sci 3109 Fixing America’s Electoral System
What’s wrong with American politics and what can be done to fix it; overview of major problems facing American democracy from polarized political parties and money in politics, to low voter turnout and trust in government, to growing gap between super-rich and middle class; focus on problem-solving, including movement towards digital politics and new media, participatory democracy, reform of congressional elections and non-partisan redistricting, presidential elections (Electoral College), presidential nomination process, campaign finance, voter registration and voting, proportional representation.

Author: Sandy Salmon