Iowa GOP legislators propose classroom cameras, criminal charges over ‘inappropriate’ content

Published: Feb. 4, 2022 at 10:17 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Several education bills were introduced during the first month of January, which Republican lawmakers said gives parents more transparency.

One bill introduced by the Senate President on Friday would allow parents to sue educators and administrators who give students obscene material or what the bill terms “hard-core pornography.”

Another bill would allow criminal charges to be filed against educators over what’s deemed inappropriate material being shared with students.

A bill introduced by Rep. Norlin Mommsen, of De Witt, would mean cameras would be installed in all classrooms.

“To think that any other profession here in Iowa would have a camera running from bell to bell in their workplace is unrealistic,” said Iowa State Education Association President Mike Beranek.

Beranek said the bills being introduced are designed to be a distraction and said they hurt the credibility of educators.

“This is a dangerous bill that sets a precedence of putting our students into an unsafe environment,” Beranek said.

Mommsen introduced the bill on cameras. He said this would help highlight the good things teachers were doing, and that the interest in what was going on in classrooms had gone up because of COVID-19.

At the Condition of the State, Gov. Kim Reynolds said the focus of education this legislature needed to be on transparency and giving parents the choice before introducing her own Senate bill.

“All schools should be required to publish what they teach,” Reynolds said. “There’s no reason to hide it, or at least not a good reason. The same goes for books in the libraries. Parents should know what their kids have access to.”

Beranek said the bills weren’t about transparency. It was about shifting from what he believed was important in education.

“These were meant to attack the professionalism and the work that our educators were doing for the children of Iowa,” Beranek said.

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