Iowa GOP makes changes to school curriculum approval bill
An amended version of the Republican-led Teacher Curriculum Review Bill is being debated on the Iowa House floor tonight.
The new version of the bill, House file 2577, reduces the estimated cost of implementing new “transparency” policies from $27.4 million per year for school districts to $16.4 million annuallyaccording to the nonpartisan Iowa Legislative Services Agency (LSA).
The LSA’s estimate is based on school districts finding enough substitute teachers to cover the classrooms of full-time teachers while they compile all materials for inspection. Iowa is in the midst of a substitute teacher shortage on top of its shortage of full-time teachers.
Here’s what’s different – and what remains the same – about the HF 2577 compared to its predecessors:
According to the bill, a school district must adopt a policy allowing parents of enrolled students to review classroom materials, which most districts already have. have in place.
This policy now includes charter schools, which were previously exempt, but still does not include private schools.
The bill also allows parents to refuse their students to receive certain educational materials. The district’s “transparency” policy should be posted prominently on its website, and the school board should provide parents in the district with an electronic or written version of the policy annually.
Districts should have electronic or printed textbooks, a syllabus or written summary of the material that will be taught in the class, an explanation of how the class meets or exceeds the educational standards of the ‘State and a ‘list of all teaching aids that will be used in the student’s classroom.
HF 2577 does not detail what is considered “educational materials”, but a previous version of the bill stated that educators should provide all of their textbooks, books, articles, programs, website links, plans, documents, presentations, videos and other educational materials
The previous version of this bill only allowed teachers to modify teaching materials twice a year. The new version allows teachers to update teaching materials during the school year, but districts must update the website with this new information within seven days.
HF 2577 gives school districts until July 1, 2024 to come into compliance.
School districts should also compile a comprehensive list of all books available in their school libraries; however, districts that do not have an electronic catalog by July 1, 2025 may request a waiver.
A district’s website should also provide instructions on how a parent of an enrolled student can request a book be removed from a school library. The book removal request form must be prominently displayed on the site.
HF 2577 also slightly changes previous language on how a parent can request to have a library book removed.
Within 15 business days of receiving a request to remove or reconsider library materials—or such later mutually agreed date—the district will review the materials described in the request and provide written notification to the parent. of its recommendation to the school board.
The school board will act on the recommendation at its next regular meeting or within 30 business days if the board and parents reach a written agreement on a date. At the end of the meeting, the commission notifies the parent of its decision in writing.
If the parent disagrees with the school board’s decision, they can file an appeal with the Iowa State Board of Education. Additionally, if the school district has not acted on the parent’s initial book removal request, the parent may appeal to the state school board, which may then order the local school board to comply with the withdrawal process.
Another change in the bill is that school district websites must post “information relating to school district-provided training and professional development courses and programs in which school district employees have participated during the current school year”.
If a school district is found to be non-compliant with the sections regarding instructional materials, removal of library materials, or professional development, the Iowa Department of Education will give the district 14 days to comply. .
If the district fails to comply, the Department of Education may impose a civil penalty on the district of at least $500 but not more than $5,000. The department will also notify the Iowa Board of Education Reviewers of teachers found in violation of the law. The board has the power to discipline teachers or remove them from their licenses.
by Ty Rushing
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