March 2021 Government Update by Ji Yeong I and Maryann Huey

12 Mar 2021 3:05 PM | Wendy Weber (Administrator)

Here is a short legislative update thus far. The first funnel has passed, and the second funnel process will conclude on April 2. In addition, the state budget will be voted on by the end of March, which includes school funding levels for next year.

BILLS THAT ARE STILL ALIVE

HF 496 Banning Tenure: The House Education Committee advanced a bill that would do away with tenure at Iowa’s three public universities. Republicans say the measure is due, in part, to concerns that conservative students feel their viewpoints are unwelcome on campus. Opponents say it would hurt the state’s ability to attract and retain talented faculty members.

HF228 Diversity Plans: Eliminates implementation of a voluntary diversity plan as a reason to deny open enrollment. This bill passed the House and is scheduled for a Senate subcommittee meeting this week. *This language is also found in SF159.

SF467 Online Learning: Prohibits a school district or accredited nonpublic school from offering online learning or continuous remote learning unless they meet the requirements of Iowa Code section 256.7(32) or section 256.11(17), as appropriate, or are offering the online learning or continuous remote learning in accordance with a proclamation of public health disaster emergency from the Governor. Establishes that a school district or accredited nonpublic school can use an online learning platform to deliver regular school day coursework for up to five days when inclement weather causes the schools to close.

SF478 School First Amendment Rights: Contains various provisions establishing training, prohibitions, and requirements for school districts and public postsecondary educational institutions in the attempt to protect the first amendment rights of students, staff, and faculty. Prohibits schools and institutions from providing training that contains “divisive concepts” and defines that term. The Senate passed this bill and moved the bill to the House.

BILLS THAT ARE PARTIALLY ALIVE

"SCHOOL CHOICE" PROPOSALS: Gov. Kim Reynolds proposed a wide-ranging bill that would give some students taxpayer-funded scholarships to attend private schools, ease rules for creating charter schools, expand some tax credits and make it easier for students to transfer between districts. The Senate has passed the entire package as proposed, while the House split it into three bills, focusing on private school scholarships and charter schools separately. The private school scholarships portion did not advance in the House. Senate File 159. There is concern that these bills could be amended onto ALIVE bills.

BILLS THAT ARE DEAD

School Choice (Private School Scholarships) and Banning 1619 Project didn’t make it through the funnel. However, HF802 may also prohibit teaching history with curricular materials from the 1619 project.

BANNING THE 1619 PROJECT: This bill would have prohibited Iowa’s public schools, community colleges and regents universities from teaching using the New York Times’ 1619 Project “or any similarly developed curriculum.” Those that did would lose funding. Published in The New York Times Magazine in 2019, the Pulitzer-Prize-winning project aims to reframe the way slavery and the contributions of Black Americans are presented. House File 222.

“BATHROOM BILL": Transgender people in Iowa schools would have had to use bathrooms that match the sex listed on their birth certificate under this bill, which passed through a Senate subcommittee but did not advance further. The bill would have applied to people using bathrooms in elementary and secondary public and nonpublic schools. Senate File 224.

LIMITING GENDER IDENTITY CURRICULUM: Iowa schools would have needed to receive written consent from a student’s parent or guardian to provide instruction relating to gender identity in grades one through six, and could not have provided such instruction to kindergarten students, according to this bill. Senate File 167.



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