NewsPolitics & Government

Sunday Talk: Steckman on Legislative Issues to be Resolved

by State Representative Sharon Steckman 

Next week legislators head back to the Capitol. Much has been going on behind closed
doors and, without input from others. We hope to be able to vote for legislation that will
be beneficial to all Iowans. Two Education bills, SF2369, private school vouchers and
HF2577, the education transparency bill, have yet to be decided.
SF2369, would benefit just 2% of Iowa public school students, while taking away
resources from the other 98% of our children, mostly in rural communities. As the lead
Democrat of the House Education Committee, I can tell you my top priority this session
were strong public schools. This bill would funnel over $55 million away from schools in
just the first year.
I am NOT against private school or homeschooling if parents decide to go that route for
their children. We have excellent private schools in my district. Already this year $104
million tax dollars will be going to support private/homeschool education.
HF2577 applies only to public schools. It requires an incredible amount of extra work for
teachers. Teachers must post online material they will be using in every class and every
subject they teach. This would include books, newspaper articles, worksheets, media,
etc. When a “teachable moment” occurs and the teacher deviates from the original plan
those changes must be submitted online before the end of the week or face a penalty.
The penalties are $500 to $5,000. Curriculum materials are already easily accessible to
parents, so the bill is not even necessary. Teachers and school administrators readily
share what they are teaching.
HF2577 includes a procedure for removal of books which is unnecessary because it is
already part of policies for districts. Books are reviewed before being purchased and
most schools have a list of books available in their libraries posted online. If a parent
objects to a book that book is brought before a “Reconsideration Committee”. This
committee is made up of parents, teachers, and administrators. The committee decides
to continue using the book, or reject it, as was the case in the Ankeny District this past
winter. A student’s education is a partnership between the parents and the school. I
spent over 30 years in the classroom and always welcomed questions from parents and
provided regular updates on what’s happening in class. Teachers want parents to be
actively engaged.

There are close to half a million children in public schools, they are counting on all of us
to give them an excellent education. The primary charge of the State is to make sure
those children can enter the working world with all the tools they need. Even the Iowa
state quarter says that has always been the mission of Iowa.
The one message I’ve heard consistently from Iowans this session is that they’re sick
and tired of politics. I don’t blame them one bit. I am hopeful as I return to the Capitol on
Monday that we can put politics aside and work for what is best for all Iowans.

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