Biden’s Education Secretary Criticizes Parental Rights Law
In a recent visit to Iowa, U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona expressed concerns over Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds’ parental rights law, labeling it “an overreach of state government.” The comments follow a lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Iowa against Reynolds over the parental rights bill.
Reynolds signed the law in May, aiming to restrict discussions about gender identity and sexual orientation in kindergarten through sixth-grade classrooms. The law also removed books depicting sexual acts from school libraries, with exemptions for religious texts. Additionally, it mandates that schools inform parents if students request changes to their pronouns or names. The ACLU and Lambda Legal argue that the law causes “ongoing irreparable harm to LGBTQ+ students” and are challenging it in court.
Cardona, during an interview with the Des Moines Register, acknowledged the importance of parental involvement in education but criticized Reynolds’ approach as excessive. “What I’m seeing here in Iowa, what I’m seeing in other places, is an overreach of state government,” he stated. He emphasized the need to improve education and enhance parental access and decision-making, especially in the post-pandemic recovery period.
Governor Reynolds, in response, emphasized the importance of a strong education system and defended Iowa’s legislation, stating, “Parent engagement … supports student success, which is why we recognize parents as the primary decision-makers regarding their children’s education and ensure that schools are transparent about what’s being taught in their classrooms. I stand by Iowa’s legislation that protects children from sexually explicit materials in school.”
Governor Reynolds also discussed her state’s support for school choice. “A strong education system is critical to the success of our state. In Iowa, that includes public, public charter, and private schools, and by allowing funds to follow students to the school of the choice, we create opportunities for all families regardless of income or zip code and elevate the entire system.”
The issue of inappropriate books in schools has become a point of contention in a number of states, including Texas, Florida, Missouri, Utah, and South Carolina. In these states, local school boards have addressed concerns about the content of certain books in school libraries.
The clash between the federal government, represented by Cardona, and the state government of Iowa, led by Reynolds, underscores the ongoing debate about the balance between parental rights, educational content, and the role of government in shaping the school curriculum. The lawsuit and Cardona’s comments highlight the broader ideological divisions around these issues, setting the stage for a legal and ideological battle over parental rights in education.