Sandy Salmon

Sandy Salmon

The Iowa House has voted to change the wording of what’s turned out to be a controversial education initiative, easing some but not all of the concerns of conservatives who charge the “Common Core” is a national effort to spread liberal social messages in schools.

Representative Sandy Salmon, a Republican from Janesville, says in 2015 the Iowa Legislature is likely going to have to decide whether to “turn control over education” to the federal government.

“I believe this bill is a good first step to returning toward local control of our schools and that is why I’m supporting it,” Salmon said this afternoon during House debate. “However, I am concerned this bill does not go far enough toward that end.”

Supporters say the so-called “Common Core” which has been approved in all but four states is an effort to ensure high school graduates in the U.S. are competant in core subjects.  The bill calls for public hearings about the “Iowa Core”.

“This is good and I’m glad we’re doing it,” Salmon said. “But let not the public be misled to think they can easily change these standards the way they might think they can.”

Representative Cindy Winckler, a Democrat from Davenport, said long before the bipartisan National Governors Association launched its national “Common Core” initiative, the “Iowa Core” was launched in 2002.

“All of the ideas and the content in the core were done through a process with Iowans,” Winckler said. “…The fact that it might be viewed as a federal take-over in my opinion isn’t true in Iowa.”

The bill declares that it is the intent of the legislature that choices about textbooks, educational materials and teaching methods “remain” with Iowa school districts and non-public schools “and not with the state or federal government.”  The Democrat who leads the Senate Education Committee told reporters he hasn’t read the bill and can’t say whether it will pass the panel by this Friday’s deadline for policy-related bills.