Rural Iowa Superintendent: Educators Don’t Feel Trusted by Legislators

By Ty Rushing

February 18, 2022

A rural Iowa school superintendent shared some insight on how educators are feeling about being in the political crosshairs during an Iowa House Education Subcommittee hearing on Thursday.

“We’re working like dogs to have additional requirements so that everybody has access to what they already have access to,” said Russ Adams, superintendent of the Orange City-based MOC Floyd Valley School District.

“You may not intend to say you don’t trust educators, but I’m telling you in the political environment right now, educators do not feel trusted at all. That’s sad and it’s frustrating. I gave my whole life to that profession. I have people daily talking to me about leaving the profession. Please give thought to that.”

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Adams’ comments were directed at Rep. John Wills (R-Spirit Lake) during an exchange on House Study Bill 706. A portion of the bill is intended to increase transparency and ensure teachers and schools are following state standards.

According to the bill, educators would need to provide all their textbooks, books, articles, syllabi, website links, outlines, handouts, presentations, videos, and other educational materials for documentation, review, and approval twice a year. Anything used in student instruction would need to be published on the school district’s website by Aug. 23 and again by Jan. 15.

That standard would apply to each class in the school district and materials have to be sorted by subject area, grade level, and teacher. Also, the publishing dates fall around the start of the school year and the end of winter break, so teachers would have to create lesson plans months ahead of time for each class they teach.

The bill does not address how instructors would be able to teach current events. It also does not apply to charter or private schools.

If a school district is not compliant, the Iowa Department of Education would reduce state funding “in proportion to the actual damages caused by the school district’s violation” of the new code.

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When advocating for the bill to move out of subcommittee, which it did, Wills backtracked on Iowa Senate President Jake Chapman’s reference to teachers having a “sinister agenda.” The Adel Republican made the remark on the opening day of the 2022 legislative session.

“I very much like to move this one forward, not because I don’t trust teachers or because we think that there is something sinister going on but more to the point of parents want this; parents are asking for this,” Wills said.

“When I was in a classroom when I was teaching, that was one of the things that we always wanted. We always wanted parental involvement. Well, here now we have parents who want involvement and I think that we need to give them that ability to have that transparency; understand what their children are being taught and that sort of thing.”


by Ty Rushing

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  • Ty Rushing

    Ty Rushing is the Chief Political Correspondent for Iowa Starting Line. He is a trail-blazing veteran Iowa journalist, an Emmy-nominated filmmaker, and co-founder and president of the Iowa Association of Black Journalists. Send tips or story ideas to [email protected] and find him on social media @Rushthewriter.

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