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A bill directing the Department of Education to study Iowa’s core curriculum advanced through the Senate Education Committee on Thursday. House File 2545 also requires a plan to regularly review and revise core content standards focused on English, math, science and social studies with a focus on U.S. history, western civilization and civics.

Republican State Sen. Brad Zaun, who is managing the bill through the Senate, said he is excited to work on getting the legislation through the chamber. Zaun said he was “frustrated” when the legislature adopted Iowa Core standards back in the late 2000s.

Democrat State Sen. Herman Quirmbach asked why the emphasis on Western civilization and not also the contributions of African Americans. Quirmbach claimed the description is “excessively narrow” and “ignores” the contributions of many different cultures and civilizations.

Quirmbach said Iowa and America has benefitted from people from all civilizations.

“We’ve got a little bit of everybody here and that is one of our key strengths,” he said. “Our students need to be aware of that and we need to study more than just European civilization. Let’s face it, European civilization means white folks.”

Ultimately Zaun said the bill is the result of frustration from parents who are displeased the education system is moving away from mathematical tables and phonics. Zaun added it is important to provide students with the tools they need to prosper. Many high school and some college graduates who Zaun said he has employed at his business lack basic mathematical skills.

A local high school counselor told a concerned parent their child would graduate no matter what. The parent noted their child had been tardy, not showing up to classes, not doing homework and was worried about failing tests.

“This was like in March, and the counselor told him ‘I guarantee you your (child) will graduate,’” Zaun said. “It’s a disservice. We have a local school district that no longer does homework because the learning environment at home varies from one place to another. A local school district allows students to take tests and retake tests and retake tests and retake tests. When you get into the real world, the business world, it doesn’t operate that way.”

The bill passed through committee on a party-line vote. Democrat State Senators Eric Giddens, Sarah Trone Garriott, Molly Donahue, Claire Celsi and Quirmbach voted against it.

Author: Jacob Hall


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