May 2021 Government Update by Ji Yeong I and Maryann Huey

3 May 2021 6:52 PM | Wendy Weber (Administrator)

Diversity Training and Curriculum Bill
House File 802

A bill banning some mandatory diversity training concepts in K-12 and Regent Institutions has passed the House and Senate and is awaiting the governor’s signature. The bill is framed as being opposed to diversity training that promotes stereotypes of sexist or racist people. There are implications for curriculum through K-16.

  • Training cannot state that the US or Iowa is fundamentally or systemically sexist or racist.
  • Training cannot imply that anyone based on their gender, race, or other characteristics are inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive consciously or unconsciously.
  • During training no one should experience psychological distress or discomfort because of their race or sex.

The concern with this bill is that it could be used to ban teaching of the 1619 project, as the language is vague and broad. The general sense is that this law prohibits discussion and education related to institutional and systemic racism. Lawsuits are likely to result if this bill is enacted into law due to the lack of clarity and specificity.


Charter School Bill
House File 813

This bill is waiting for the governor's signature to be signed into a law. The bill creates:

  • A new method for establishing charter schools in Iowa without the approval of a local school board.

There are currently two charter schools in Iowa, and the concern is that charter schools will funnel monies away from other schools. Charter schools will still be part of the public school system, but not accountable to local school boards.

Lack of oversight is another concern, as well as requirements for the principal to be licensed.


School Choice Expansion Bill
HF 847

This bill relates to HF 813 and contains a large variety of education related provisions. If passed, this bill would place limitations on the number of charter schools that can be formed, require that the chief administrator of a charter school have an administrator's license, a teaching license or a new authorization created by the BOEE, and expands open enrollment options. The bill also provides a tax credit of up to 25% of the first two thousand dollars that families spend on private schooling per child.


Budget

The state budget was not agreed to by the two bodies of the legislature, and representatives are now in “overtime”, which means working past the deadline of April 30th without per diem pay. The budget is critical for public schools, so administrators know the funding for the upcoming year and can staff appropriately and make other key operational decisions. It is possible that other bills not voted on this session might be added to the budget.


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