WATERLOO – Factual information was an essential part of what Denny McCabe communicated to his students as an American history teacher.
But after the House 802 dossier was promulgated by Gov. Kim Reynolds in June, he worried that this might no longer be possible in the classroom. The legislation focuses on issues related to racism, sexism, diversity and inclusion. It prohibits the teaching of these so-called concepts of division by public schools, universities, colleges and government entities or including them in any compulsory training.
Now retired after a career at Hoover Middle School, McCabe encourages teachers at Waterloo community schools to “teach the truth” through a video he created with help from Denny Carlson. Lasting just over six minutes, it includes commentary from two district teachers and several retired educators, as well as current and former students and other members of the community.
They will screen the video at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in the second floor conference room of the Waterloo Public Library at 415 Commercial Street. It will then be made public online, where the creators hope it will be shared widely.
McCabe described the video as a “statement to make people aware that there is support for teachers who will take risks,” but acknowledged that it was “probably wishful thinking” that it would change the minds of teachers. people.
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“I call it a back to school video teaching the truth, and it was kind of inspired by the Zinn Education group,” McCabe said. The National Zinn Education Project last spring identified legislation as well as bills in 14 other states that it says endanger teachers’ ability to teach truth in the classroom.
Previously, he organized “A Day of Action: Educators Pledge to Teach the Truth” before embarking on this latest endeavor. McCabe said the Zinn Education Project plans to promote the video on social media once it is released.
In the video, he further explains what he and the others are asking educators to do: “Teaching the truth simply means providing knowledge and awareness to reduce ignorance which can lead to fear, hatred and dislike. violence. Teaching the truth does not mean dividing; it’s about presenting verifiable factual content, it’s about knowing the truth about the past to improve the future. “
East High School English teacher Karla Koch is one of the current teachers speaking in the video.
“Basically I’m just committing to teaching the truth and that’s what I’m talking about in the video,” she said. “I’m also talking about how my students expect to learn the truth in my classes at East High School. The truth is confused and I think one of the most important things we can do is to do it. to say.”
She added, “I have no problem with my district and the way they handle this, they are wonderful. This is a state process.”
By law, it does not prohibit the use of any program that teaches topics about sexism or slavery and racial oppression, segregation or discrimination. Among the list of concepts it prohibits is that moral character is determined by race or gender and that the United States or Iowa is inherently racist.
“It’s almost like they’re trying to erase something,” Koch said. “Pretending that things didn’t happen will never make things better.…
“There is so much in it and yet it says so little.” Still, she observed, “I think it might be intended for intimidation.”
McCabe agreed. “I think 802 statewide and maybe nationwide is a deterrent,” he said.
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