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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES — Schools would be required to post their classroom materials and library books online for parents to see — but not twice annually as previously proposed — under school transparency legislation moving in the Iowa House.
Majority Republicans in the Iowa Legislature have pledged to address school transparency after hearing from parents who have expressed concerns about library books and classroom materials they deem to be obscene.
Statehouse Republicans are taking different approaches to the legislation. On Wednesday, House Republicans continued their work advancing their bill, House File 2499.
“Our intent here is not to give arbitrary work to teachers,” said Rep. Garrett Gobble, R-Ankeny, who teaches in the Ankeny school district and who worked on the new amendment to the original House bill.
“We want to make it meaningful and show parents how to engage. But we can’t engage for the parents. These resources would be there for the parents to access, but they’d still have to make the decision to access.”
Rep. Phil Thompson, R-Jefferson who ran the bill in Wednesday’s budget subcommittee hearing, said he has not yet discussed the House proposal with Senate Republicans. He said he has focused on working with his House Republican colleagues and representatives from Gov. Kim Reynolds’ office.
Reynolds’ legislative liaison spoke during Wednesday’s subcommittee hearing on the House bill.
Thompson said even with the recent changes, the bill will accomplish House Republicans’ original intent.
“We can accomplish the intent of the bill, which is more transparency for parents,” Thompson said. “This bill is workable for teachers and still accomplishes that.”
Advocates for public schools and school boards expressed reservations with the proposal, including the amount of training and time it will take to prepare teachers to upload their curriculum to a new website. But those advocates also said they appreciated the recent changes, which they feel move the bill in a positive direction from the perspective of educators.
The bill also adds some social studies and civics requirements. A requirement that a student score at least 70 percent on a civics test in order to graduate was removed by the amendment; the bill instead requires a civics unit as part of social studies curriculum.
Senate Republicans are weighing their own school transparency proposals, including one that would allow parents to sue educators who distribute materials that any parent deems to be obscene.
In order to send a proposal to Reynolds for her signature, the House and Senate will have to agree on one bill.
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