Iowa House passes curriculum transparency bill requiring public schools to post learning materials online

The Iowa House on Tuesday passed a curriculum transparency bill that requires public and charter schools to post their learning materials online.

Supports say the legislation, which passed in a 60-36 vote, is meant to protect parents’ right to know what their children are learning, particularly with the proliferation of critical race theory and other controversial content in classrooms throughout the country.

“I believe this will begin a great new period for parents and teachers to work together for the benefit of our students,” Republican Rep. Garrett Gobble said, according to KCCI. “Transparency will strengthen trust … and rightfully turn down the temperature and rhetoric surrounding education discussions.”

So what, exactly, does the legislation do? In short, it requires public and charter schools to post curricula and library books online, though not specific lesson plans.

“The bill passed by the House would require schools to post a course syllabus or written summary of the material that will be taught in each class, how the students classes meet or exceed the Iowa core educational standards and a list of all instructional materials that will be used in classes,” the Des Moines Register reported. “Schools could satisfy the requirement by giving parents view-only access to any classroom management software used by the district.”

If the learning materials change, teachers would need to post updated information online by the time the school week ends.

“School districts that violate the law’s transparency requirements and don’t correct the violation within 14 days could face fines between $500 and $5,000,” according to the Register.

Democrats claimed the bill adds an extra burden on teachers.

“Teachers will be spending all their time trying to enter this information and then re-enter what they didn’t do or what they changed,” Democratic state Rep. Sharon Sue Steckman said. “[They’ll] be [so] worried about being attacked for what they’re doing that they won’t have any time to show their allegiance to our children.”

“It hurts teachers. It demoralizes a group of trusted professionals and it feels like a ‘gotcha’ to all teachers and administrators in our state,” she also said.

But writing in The Iowa Torch, Iowa House Majority Leader Rep. Matt Windschitl said the bill protects parents’ rights.

“The bottom line is this, parents should know what is happening in their children’s education,” he wrote. “We want to ensure parents have this information so they are aware of the materials their children are seeing in the classroom.

“Parents deserve all the transparency and understanding of instructional material their children are learning.”

On Wednesday, the Iowa Senate also passed a piece of curriculum transparency legislation, which — in addition to its transparency measures — establishes a “student first scholarship program” meant to expand school choice, We Are Iowa reported.