A bill introduced in the Iowa House would require that school library catalogs be posted online and teachers would have to list all the instructional materials they plan to use.

The concept was considered in the House and Senate last year, but did not become law. Melissa Peterson of the Iowa State Education Association says parents should have access to school curriculum, but the bill would prevent teachers from adding new material that would benefit students.

“The number of things that can occur on a daily basis, if not an hourly basis, that could have relevance in the classroom,” she says, “that really would help connect whatever is happening from an instructional material standpoint to what is happening in the world around us.”

Supporters of the legislation say parents have a right to know what materials will be used in their child’s classroom and opt out of anything they object to.

Another House bill calls for a fine of up to $5000 against a school district that violates the ban on teaching certain ideas about racism and sexism. Under a 2021 state law, schools are not allowed to teach that Iowa or the United States are fundamentally racist. Republican Representative Steven Holt of Denison says setting up fines would send the message that the law must be followed.

“It would appear to us that this hasn’t been complied with in some school districts, that it has been blatantly ignored in some school districts or that they are just simply trying to play word games and keep doing the same thing,” Holt says.

If the bill becomes law, the Iowa Department of Education would field any complaints that a school is teaching those concepts and determine if the district should be fined.

(Reporting by Grant Gerlock, Iowa Public Radio; additional reporting by Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson)

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