The Iowa House has passed a bill that requires school districts to post a list of books in the school library and provide parents with an outline of how to seek removal of a book. Under the bill, teachers would have to post the titles of books and other materials they plan to use in class.
Representative Phil Thompson, a Republican from Boone, said the bill creates a transparency standard that many schools already follow. “Parents deserve to know what their children are being taught,” Thompson said.
Representative Sharon Steckman, a Democrat from Mason City, said many schools will have to buy new software to meet this requirement. “This bill is targeting teachers, to the detriment of our children,” Steckman said. “I think the teachers will be spending all their time trying to enter this information and then reenter what they didn’t do or what they changed and be worried about being attacked for what they’re doing.”
Representative Sue Cahill, a Democrat who’s a teacher in Marshalltown, said it will lead to more generic lesson plans. “This bill hurts students. It hurts teachers,” Cahill says. “It demoralizes a group of trusted professionals and it feels like a ‘gotcha’ to all teachers and administrators in our state.”
Republican Representative Garret Gobble teaches U.S. history to eighth graders in Ankeny and he said the requirement is manageable.
“I welcome a change like this that will encourage parents to engage,” Gobble said. “Transparency will strengthen trust…and rightfully turn down the temperature and rhetoric surrounding education discussions. I believe this will begin a great new period for parents and teachers to work together for the benefit of our students.”
Two Democrats in the House joined 58 Republicans in supporting the bill. One Republicans and 35 Democrats voted against it. A similar bill is on the Iowa Senate’s schedule for potential debate today. That bill also includes the governor’s plan to provide state money to the parents of 10,000 kids enrolling in private schools.