Reynolds’ new school rules

Gov. Kim Reynolds is proposing a bill that will require class materials be shared on school district websites.


Grace Smith

Iowa House Speaker Pat Grassley and Senate President Jake Chapman applaud Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds during the Condition of the State Address at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines, Iowa, on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022. During the State Address, Reynolds spoke about childcare, Iowa teachers, material taught in schools, unemployment, tax cuts, and more.

Natalie Dunlap, Politics Editor

Parents can expect to know more details about classroom material and library books if legislation proposed by Gov. Kim Reynolds becomes law. 

In her Condition of the State address on Tuesday night, Reynolds said parents need more control over  what their children learn in school, saying some schools are teaching using books with inappropriate content. 

“To the parents who are listening tonight, who are frustrated with what’s happening: Know that I and members of this Legislature have heard you loud and clear. Enough is enough. Parents matter, and we’re going to make sure you stay in charge of your child’s education,” Reynolds said, a comment that prompted a round of applause and whistles. 

Books like The Hate U Give, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, All Boys Aren’t Blue, and Gender Queer have become targets of some Republican lawmakers in recent months. Many books being characterized as obscene portray experiences of people of color and LGBTQ+ people.

Reynolds is proposing school districts be required to share syllabi, textbooks, and academic standards on their website, as well as a full list of books available in the libraries and an easy process for reporting a book parents have concerns about. If book challenges aren’t resolved in 30 days, the challenge would go to the Iowa Board of Education. 

Additionally, Reynolds is proposing legislation requiring students obtain a 60 percent grade on a citizenship test to graduate high school. It would be at the school’s discretion to decide which citizenship test to administer. 

If these bills became law, schools in noncompliance with them would lose funding.

Reynolds’ proposal comes after Senate President Jake Chapman accused educators and the media of perpetuating a “sinister agenda” in his opening remarks on Monday, the first day of the legislative session. 

“We must hold those who distribute this repulsive and criminal content to minors accountable,” Chapman said. 

Senate Minority Leader Zach Wahls, D-Coralville, said in floor remarks on Tuesday that he received a message from a superintendent in his district asking how to prepare educators to respond to this rhetoric.

In her response to Gov. Kim Reynolds’ Condition of the State Address, Iowa House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst said the characterization from Chapman demonized teachers and made them feel unwelcome. 

“It would have been great if she would have also commented on the fact that a person sitting right behind her just yesterday said that teachers have a sinister agenda,” Konfrst said.

Ranking education committee member Sen. Herman Quirmbach, D-Ames, said threats to send teachers to jail won’t recruit qualified candidates, but rather accelerate an exit of teachers from Iowa. 

“Education professionals strike an appropriate balance between the challenging material and the age appropriateness of the material,” Quirmbach said. “I trust those professionals to continue to do the excellent job that I believe that they have done in Iowa.” 

Reynolds’ budget includes plans for a one-time $1000 retention bonus for educators who worked through the pandemic and will continue teaching next year, which will be federally funded. 

House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst said that its wonderful teachers are getting $1000, but that it’s not enough. 

“The teachers I talked to aren’t going to fall for that. They’ve been called people with a sinister agenda on the floor. They’ve been demonized,” Konfrst said. “They’re getting their decision making power taken away by internet conspiracy theories. Teachers are exhausted and unappreciated in the state and the $1,000 while grades is really just the tip of the iceberg. They need to be treated like the professionals they are.”

Reynolds also announced that starting Wednesday the state will launch the first teacher registered apprenticeship program in the country to increase the educator workforce.

“The teachers of tomorrow are in our schools today, so let’s give them a head start on their journey to one of the most rewarding careers,” Reynolds said.