Education Secretary Cardona Criticizes Iowa’s Parental Rights Law as ‘Excessive State Government Intervention’

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona has voiced disapproval of Iowa’s recently enacted parental rights law, characterizing it as an undue intrusion by the state government.

While visiting Iowa and touring the Perry Community School District and Des Moines Area Community College, Cardona discussed the contentious law with the Des Moines Register.

“What I’m seeing here in Iowa, what I’m seeing in other places, is an overreach of state government,” Cardona told the Des Moines Register. This remark came in the wake of a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Iowa against Governor Kim Reynolds over the parental rights bill she enacted earlier this year.

Signed by Reynolds in May, the law seeks to limit conversations about gender identity and sexual orientation with students in kindergarten through sixth grade. It dictates the removal of books portraying sex acts from school libraries, excluding religious texts. Furthermore, the legislation obligates school administrators to notify parents when students request changes to their pronouns or names.

The ACLU, in conjunction with Lambda Legal, is challenging the law, asserting that it causes “ongoing irreparable harm to LGBTQ+ students.” Cardona, recognizing the significance of parental involvement in education, voiced reservations about the law’s broad scope.

“I agree with Gov. Reynolds that parents need to be a bigger part of how we educate our students,” Cardona said.

Cardona expressed apprehensions regarding a limited subset of parents influencing decisions for the larger student body.

“What I don’t like is having a small group of parents make decisions for everybody else’s kids,” he stated.

The Des Moines Register reports that Iowa Department of Education Director McKenzie Snow is expected to participate in a roundtable discussion with Cardona. Despite being aware of Cardona’s visit, Governor Reynolds’ office did not receive an invitation to meet with him. Nevertheless, Reynolds expressed pride in Iowa’s Teacher and Paraeducator Registered Apprenticeship Program, garnering national attention, including recognition from Secretary Cardona.

Reynolds maintains support for the legislation, highlighting the crucial role of parents as primary decision-makers in their children’s education and emphasizing the need for transparency in classroom instruction. The issue of inappropriate books in schools has become a central focus in various states, including Texas, Florida, Missouri, Utah, and South Carolina, where local school boards have addressed the matter.