A bill awaiting the governor’s review would force Iowa parents to ensure their kids get a vision test before they enter kindergarten and again before they start third grade.
Representative Cindy Winckler, a Democrat from Davenport, notes the final version of the bill does not include a requirement that schools refuse to enroll students who have not had an eye test.
“A child who does not see well, that is a barrier to learning, but it’s very hard to mandate that (schools) force parents to behave in a certain way,” Winckler says.
The bill does stipulate that parents who have religious objections would not have to get their kids’ eyes checked. Representative Linda Miller, a Republican from Bettendorf, says legislators have been working on this proposal for three years.
“I believe that this is a good compromise,” Miller says. “Everybody is supportive of the bill.”
The bill passed the House 97-0 earlier this week. It had passed the Senate in mid-March on a 44-4 vote, so now it’s up to Governor Branstad to review the legislation and decide whether it becomes law.
Iowa is one of just 10 states that do not require vision screenings for elementary students. Iowa parents could fulfill the proposed requirement by going to an eye doctor, their pediatrician or a community group like the Lions Club that offers free eye tests for kids. There’s even a free on-line test available.
According to the “Prevent Blindness Iowa” group, one in four preschoolers has vision problems.