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Iowa teacher says '10 Divisive Concepts' law hasn't impacted curriculum, but instead caused confusion

The measure was signed into law last summer and bans the teaching of "10 Divisive Concepts".

IOWA, USA — In July of 2021, House File 802 went into effect in Iowa. The measure bans the teaching of "10 Divisive Concepts" in Iowa schools. 

Those include:

  1. That one race or sex is inherently superior to another 26 race or sex.
  2. That the United States of America and the state of Iowa are fundamentally or systemically racist or sexist.
  3. That an individual, by virtue of the individual’s race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.
  4. That an individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of the 34 individual’s race or sex.
  5. That members of one race or sex cannot and should not attempt to treat others without respect to race or sex.
  6. That an individual’s moral character is necessarily determined by the individual’s race or sex.
  7. That an individual, by virtue of the individual’s race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.
  8. That any individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account 9 of that individual’s race or sex.
  9. That meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are racist or sexist, or were created by a particular race to oppress another race.
  10. Any other form of race or sex scapegoating or any other form of race or sex stereotyping 

Tyler Stewart, who teaches at Berg Middle School in Newton, says the legislation has not changed what he teaches in his classroom. However, he believes it's created confusion.

"Does it mean we can't teach about Jim Crow? Does that mean we can't teach about Martin Luther King?" he asked. "Because I'm not teaching anything that's factually inaccurate, historically inaccurate. It's all stuff that has happened. It's real."

Stewart believes the legislation creates unnecessary anxiety for teachers and unclear expectations. 

"Is somebody to come in here and walk into my room and see that I have 'The Hate U Give' that's in the back of my room?" Stewart continued. "Am I gonna lose my job for that? Are they going to find me and send me to jail? What are they gonna do?"

Stewart feels the now-law is part of a larger picture, which he feels negatively impacts teachers like him. 

"I don't want to teach anymore because I'm tired of it. I'm tired of being the enemy, when all I do is just care enough for my students to want to be successful. And that's apparently a crime in a lot of people's eyes."

This year, Gov. Reynolds has proposed a measure requiring schools to publish their curriculum as well as book titles. There are also measures aimed at tackling teacher shortages.

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Watch: Gov. Kim Reynolds promotes tax plan in eastern Iowa 

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