Mauren: Reynolds plan for transparency could lead to washing of history


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Columnist Jacob Mauren criticizes Gov. Reynolds’ push for parent access and control of learning materials in schools. 

Jacob Mauren

In early January, Governor Kim Reynolds gave her Condition of the State address. In it, she doubled down on her party’s position that certain teachers are pushing a specific ideology in the classroom and touted her plans to increase parent access to learning materials. While the general idea of parental access to learning materials is not absurd, I have no doubt the intended outcome is the alteration of materials to fit a certain worldview. 

The context of this new push from the Reynolds administration is not difficult to find. Across the country, conservatives have taken aim at the curriculum being taught in schools. Curriculum that focuses on both race and the Holocaust seems to be under particular scrutiny. Recently, the governor banned the teaching of Critical Race Theory in Iowa, though it seems to have had minimal to no effect on schools. 

The governor’s proposed plan would have all school curricula and available library books published and available for parents to look through. While the idea alone is not too difficult to swallow, I believe it is clear that the intended impact of this change is to increase parent intervention and alteration of teaching materials, likely to fit a more conservative worldview if current events tell us anything.

I think the general encouragement of this behavior is already becoming evident in the state. Just this week, Oksoloosa schools have had to deal with parent complaints about the teaching of Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech and Ruby Bridges’ integration into a white school in the South. 

The fact is, there is likely to be a parent in each class that has objections to something in the material. Someone isn’t going to want it to be taught that the Civil War was fought over slavery because their great-grandpappy fought for the South. Someone is going to want intelligent design to be taught in biology so “both sides” of the evolution debate are given. 

I also just have a general issue with taking control away from the teachers who have dedicated their lives to educating. I can only assume the parents who are plumbers, engineers and more would not want teachers over their shoulders telling them how to do their jobs, so why would we encourage that in the other direction?

Realistically, the governor will likely get whatever legislation she wants to be passed. The results of which we will only be able to see over the years. I can only hope schools are given the final say in what they get to teach this states’ children.