Republican Iowa State Sen. Brad Zaun has been working to eliminate Common Core in Iowa for years. And 2021 is no different.
Zaun chaired a subcommittee on the bill Tuesday morning as it advanced with support from both he and his GOP colleague, Sen. Craig Johnson.
David Wilkerson of the School Administrators of Iowa said the group is opposed to the bill.
“Really don’t see the point in the legislation actually,” he said. “The roots of the Iowa Core actually date back to 2013 when Gov. Branstad changed the terminology from Common Core to Iowa Core and made sure the curriculum in Iowa was being aligned to national standards.”
Schools have been aligning to national standards for nearly a decade, Wilkerson said.
“I guess we’re trying to understand what the point of the legislation would be and think it would just cause confusion,” Wilkerson said.
Phil Jeneary of the Iowa School Board Association said the group is registered neutral and unsure what substantive change the bill would make.
“Speaking with some other folks, it didn’t’ look like the eliminations that it would make would have al ot of real substantive change anyway,” Jeneary said. “Kind of wondering what the need of the bill is.”
Melissa Peterson with the Iowa State Education Association opposed the legislation, saying she also looks forward to hearing what is attempting to be accomplished with the legislation. She also expressed concern with the enactment date of immediately.
“We have entirely too much frankly going on in our school systems right now as we’re dealing with the pandemic,” she said. “To do anything that I Think would cause confusion about the appropriate standards and assessments at this time would not be helpful in our opinion. We think if anything we need to double down on the consistency in terms of expectations for both our education professionals and our students at this time.”
Democrat State Sen. Claire Celsi said she is having a hard time “divining the purpose of the bill.”
“It doesn’t really leave many breadcrumbs as to what you have in mind to replace content or anything like that, so maybe you could expound on your reasons for filing the bill,” she said.
When the Iowa Core was passed, Zaun said, it was not from the roots of Gov. Branstad but came from Gov. Chet Culver.
“At the time when we did this, there were only two or three of us in the chamber that even knew what Common Core was,” Zaun said. “Common Core started in the state of Oregon and at that time my arguments on the floor were it really is detrimental in regards to the student’s performance based on what the state of Oregon had.”
Zaun encouraged Celsi to ask any parent of an elementary school student or middle school student and ask a parent if they could help with homework – particularly the new math.
“I would encourage anyone here to google new math and you try telling me how that does,” he said.
The curriculum has gone away from multiplication tables. Zaun said he thinks the new math is detrimental to the students and phonics are gone.
“I just want to get back to the basics and what Common Core does is it gets away from the basics of educating our children,” Zaun said.
He talked about an employer that hires people who are not college-educated and spend 30 days in a class trying to teach the kids the basics they’ve missed.
“They’ve noticed a higher trend in regard to these employees that they have not had the adequate common, basic tools that they need in regard to mathematics in particular,” he said. “So that’s why I’m doing this bill.”
Celsi asked Zaun if he had any idea how much it would cost to retrain the entire public school teacher force on how to “teach phonics and old math.”
Zaun said he could request a fiscal note for the bill.
Republican State Sen. Craig Johnson said he’s had this question come up quite often throughout his forums.
“I definitely have a lot of constituents that are asking for this discussion to happen,” he said.
Zaun said the enactment date is something he’d be willing to change.