The Iowa General Assembly has been controlled by Democrats since January 2007.  They have pushed through a number of horrible bills from changing our Civil Rights Code to funding ESCR.  They are also seeking to mandate school curriculum in Iowa.  Not just for public schools, which they do have the right to do since they receive state money, but also private schools.  Below is a press release from my friend Eric Goranson who lobbies on behalf of Christian schools in Iowa.

Private School Educators Say Student Achievement Forgotten in State Mandated Curriculum Proposal

(Des Moines, Iowa), March 31, 2008—A group of private school representatives from throughout Iowa today voiced their concern for proposed state mandates that would require private schools to adopt a state-specified curriculum in order to maintain their state accreditation. The private schools, which have enjoyed a strong working relationship with the state of Iowa for decades, are feeling strong-armed by the legislature’s push to require that rather than meet certain benchmarks for achievement, the school’s will be required to teach specific curriculum.

“Private schools live and die by their student achievements,” said Dr. Robert Stouffer, superintendent of Des Moines Christian School, one of the state’s largest non-denominational private schools. “We have always been willing to teach to ensure that our students are meeting, and more often exceeding, the grade-by-grade benchmarks required by the state, but private schools want to maintain the right to determine how we meet that need in the classroom.”

Dr. Aaron Gonzalez, who recently moved from Minnesota to take the helm at Iowa Christian Academy in West Des Moines agreed. “Test scores show that grade level-by-grade level, students in Iowa’s private schools have consistently performed well above state-established benchmarks, as well as above their public school counterparts,” said Gonzalez. “After working in other states, I am surprised that Iowa, which is recognized as an educational leader throughout the country, would force seemingly unnecessary changes onto an element of their educational model that has worked so well for so long.”

Therein lies the concern of the private school representatives — by all measurable standards the curriculum and classroom methodologies they have adopted are working well for those who choose private education. The private schools would simply like to maintain the option to choose all, some, or none of the model core curriculum proposed by the state, rather than be required to adopt it. “If parts of the curriculum make sense for our students and we think it will enhance our student achievement than of course we’ll adopt it,” explained David TeGrotenhuis, principal, Oskaloosa Christian School, “but we want to maintain that right to choose.”

The private school educators stress that districts and schools within districts have unique needs and student populations, noting that a “one size fits all” approach to curriculum does not make sense for students, teachers, or Iowans.  “This is not setting standards,” said Samona Yentes, of the Iowa Association of Christian Schools. “In fact, standards and benchmarks for achievement are notably left out of this legislation. It’s about mandating what is used in the classroom, regardless of the student population.”

Private schools are not the only ones who have balked at being required to adopt a state mandated curriculum.  Professional Educators of Iowa as well as the Des Moines Area Education Association have also expressed their concern about the loss of local control of curriculum within a district.

The private school educators have encouraged Iowans to contact their legislators and ask that they support allowing private schools to have the option of using the proposed model core curriculum. Such options are being debated by the legislature this week.

If you live in Iowa, please contact your legislator and tell them to vote no on the model core curriculum or, at the very least, amend the bill to exempt private schools.

Cross-posted at

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