A popular central Iowa legislator has offered a bill that will no doubt make him even more popular with many in his own party.
State Sen. Brad Zaun (R-Urbandale) offered Senate File 16 last week to remove all education references to the Iowa Core standards, or any core content standards. It also directs the Iowa Board of Education to adopt high school graduation requirements and assessment standards.
“I was in the Senate when we originally passed Common Core here in Iowa,” he said. “I was one of three legislators who knew then how destructive this curriculum would be. It’s my mission now to get this crippling curriculum out of our schools.”
Zaun said he has done considerable research into the curriculum Iowa adopted. At the time, only Washington State was also using it.
“The data clearly shows what kind of a failure this is,” he said. “It shows test scores are going down, not up.”
SF 16 also amends existing state laws, replacing all references to “core curriculum plan” to “graduation plan.” Likewise, the phrase “core curriculum requirements” is replaced with “graduation requirements.”
The bill also replaces the term “core content standards” to “assessment standards.” The Iowa Board of Education’s assessment standards will also remain applicable to all students in kindergarten through grade 12 in every public school district and accredited nonpublic school.
“I hear from parents all the time who say they don’t understand their kids’ homework,” Zaun said. “A lot of it comes from the new math. But, also, we’re moving away from phonics, which was the way we learned when I and many in my generation went to school.”
He said coming off his recent congressional campaign, he found it refreshing to see how many Iowans are now starting to see the problems associated with Common Core, or its Iowa Core derivative. He added that this is not the first time he has gone to bat against Common Core in Iowa.
“The education establishment is very protective of this legislation,” he said. “They’re getting a lot more money by supporting this failed idea.”
Lobbyists for the Iowa Association of School Boards, the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa Action Fund, School Administrators of Iowa, the Iowa State Education Association, the Greater Des Moines Partnership, and the Iowa Chamber Alliance have all declared their opposition to SF 16.
“I would say to the groups like the Chambers of Commerce and the Greater Des Moines Partnership to have a conversation with their employers, especially in the manufacturing sector,” he said. “They don’t like [Common Core] at all.”
Zaun said he didn’t offer SF 16 to tell educators how to teach their children. He said that’s a decision best left up to people closer to home.
“Local school districts know best what is the best curriculum for their students,” he said.
He added that he doesn’t expect his bill to go very far in the Democratic controlled Senate. However, he is hopeful to see a companion bill in the House get passed this year.