Bill adds new requirements to Iowa history, civics courses

DES MOINES — One of the bills that cleared the legislature in its final week directs the Iowa Department of Education to immediately begin drafting new standards for social studies that emphasize U.S. history, Iowa history and Western Civilization.

Republican Representative Steven Holt of Denison says it will ensure Iowa children are taught the blessings of liberty.  “We will teach about our republican form of government and compare the stark differences between us and the crimes against humanity that have occurred under communist regimes since 1917,” Holt said. “We will teach about the horrors of the Holocaust to ensure that such evil is never countenanced in our own country.”

Democrats say the list of specific people and events in the plan would take away teachers’ ability to cater lessons to current events and students’ interests. Representative Molly Buck, a Democrat from Ankeny who’s a teacher, says the plan is overly prescriptive. “I don’t really feel like an approach that talks about rote learning or memorization prepares our children for the realities of participating in modern and diverse and complex engagement in our society,” Buck said.

The bill calls for the new social studies standards to be voted on by the state board of education by the end of 2025. The bill also directs state education officials to conduct a review of all K-through-12 curriculum and education standards and make recommendations for changes to the legislature.