Iowa race theory ban in schools divides Democrats & Republicans

4 The Record

Law keeps concepts of systemic racism and unconscious bias out of classrooms

There’s a new partisan fight related to COVID-19 — this time about where it came from — a former Illinois state lawmaker files a class-action lawsuit for backpay and Iowa has a new law that significantly limits how the issue of race can be taught in public schools.

We discussed all of that on this week’s 4 The Record with Scott County Democratic Party Chair Elesha Gayman and Iowa Republican Party Chair Jeff Kaufmann.


This week Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed a law that bans public schools and public universities from teaching what’s called critical race theory.

This theory addresses issues of race that still exist today, but the law prohibits including 

“divisive topics for diversity and inclusion training.”

Several concepts are specifically banned.

Here are a few:

  • No teaching that the United States of America and the State of Iowa are fundamentally or systemically racist or sexist.
  • No teaching that an individual, solely because of the individual’s race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.
  • No teaching that meritocracy or traits such as hard work ethic are racist or sexist, or were created by a particular race to oppress another race.

Reynolds referred to these concepts as discriminatory indoctrination.

This law essentially denies conversations about systemic racism and unconscious bias in the classroom.

This is a law passed by a lot of white people at a time when diversity and inclusion are priorities across the country.

Kaufmann and Gayman addressed how we as a country make progress on the issue of race without having real conversations about it and if Republicans think systemic racism and unconscious bias don’t exist.


An odd class-action lawsuit was filed in Illinois this week by a former state representative.

The lawsuit claims all state lawmakers should be paid for raises they didn’t get when salaries were frozen.

This could put Illinois taxpayers on the hook for $10 million.

The case was filed by a Republican, but two Democrats who once served in the state Senate won a similar case a couple of years ago.

Theirs wasn’t a class action.

Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza calls it a class-less action lawsuit.

Budget problems brought about the salary freezes that were approved by lawmakers.

That salary was $67,800 from 2008 to 2019.

It is now approaching $71,000 a year.

The plaintiff argues the raises are mandated by the state constitution.

The law might be on their side.

Gayman and Kaufmann discussed what filing a case like this says about the commitment to public service.


There’s more partisan division regarding the pandemic.

The latest argument surrounds the search for answers about the origin of COVID-19.

A big question and source of concern is whether it came from a lab in China and somehow the virus leaked from there.

Answers to this question could help prevent another pandemic.

Both parties agree it’s important to get to the facts.

Republicans want a congressional investigation.

Democrats worry that it could turn into political fingerpointing.

Democrats also probably aren’t too happy Republicans won’t go along with a commission to investigate the invasion of the U.S. Capitol.

Kaufmann and Gayman talked about what common ground could be reached on a fact finding investigation into COVID-19 without political fingerpointing.

Watch the full conversation in the video above.

Question of the week

Local 4 News, your local election headquarters, is proud to present 4 The Record, a weekly news and public affairs program focused on the issues important to you.  It’s a program unlike any other here in the Quad Cities. Tune in each Sunday at 10:30 a.m. as Jim Niedelman brings you up to speed on what’s happening in the political arena, from Springfield, Des Moines, Washington, D.C. and right here at home.

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