Iowa Department of Education Wants to Dictate Reading Materials

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We’ve been told that curriculum is not being dictated to local school districts in Iowa.  Right.  There will already be a trickle-down impact on curriculum and learning resources as a result of the Common Core adoption in Iowa and assessments being aligned to it.  Now the Iowa State Board of Education is considering a new rule that would only allow the “nation’s top reading materials” in Iowa’s classrooms.

Mary Stegmeir of The Des Moines Register reports:

Under the proposal, “curriculum remains a local decision,” said Dave Tilly, a deputy director with the Iowa Department of Education. However, schools would have to use proven teaching tactics, materials and tests. The provision has been in federal law since 2002, but this marks the first time it has been required under Iowa law, Tilly said.

“Some of the most frequently used practices in the state are not bad practices, but they’re not an evidence-based Core Curriculum,” said Tilly. “…What these rules direct schools to do is to use a curriculum that has an evidence base that says: This has been used; this has made a difference; and we can show you the results based on implementing this curriculum.”

Some questions.  Who determines what the “nation’s top reading materials” are?  Why would the State Board and Department of Education expect school districts to use “evidence-based” curriculum when we have adopted standards that any outside observer can see is not really “evidence-based”?  Common Core advocates have failed to make the case how these standards are evidence-based and benchmarked.  Saying it’s so doesn’t make it so.  Is it just me but can’t Dave Tilly see the contradiction in saying “curriculum remains a local decision” when they want to dictate what curriculum a school can or cannot use in reading.  Just allowing a choice among “approved curriculum” isn’t the same as full local control. 

This reminds me of when I would allow my children when they were younger a choice of three or four acceptable options when I wanted them to have a say with a particular decision.  Yes they had a “choice,” but they didn’t have “control” because the choice was made within my parameters so it would be a decision their mother and I were ok with.

That’s ok for kids, but not for local school districts.

Stegmier reported there will be a public hearing on this proposed rule on January 3rd, but as of this writing there is not any mention of it on the Department website.

Photo credit: Multnomah County Public Library via Flickr (CC-By-NC-ND 2.0)

About Shane Vander Hart

Shane Vander Hart founded Iowans for Local Control in 2012 which later merged with Iowa RestorEd. Shane also is the founder and editor-in-chief of Caffeinated Thoughts and the founder and president of 4:15 Communications, LLC, a social media & communications consulting/management firm.  You can connect with Shane on Facebook or follow him on Twitter and Google +.

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