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By Meg Doster March 1, 2022

Jeff Shipley says teachers should not get raises if pushing topics the Legislature banned in law

If Your Time is short

  • State Rep. Jeff Shipley, R-Birmingham, says public school teachers who teach anything deemed to be divisive sex and racial topics should not receive a pay raise, although the amendment he proposed to do so didn’t pass.
     
  • Critical Race Theory could not be taught in Iowa public schools because of a 2021 law supported by Republicans banning what the law refers to as divisive topics. State educators say it hasn’t been taught anyway.
     
  • Democrats in the Iowa House have used their Twitter account to criticize Shipley, saying he only wants Republican versions of history taught in public schools, which he says is a mischaracterization.

Education has been a hot topic in the Iowa Legislature, where Republicans in charge have introduced several reforms to the way K-12 children are taught in the state’s public schools. In the House, Democrats posted on their Twitter account on Feb. 10 that Rep. Jeff Shipley, R-Birmingham, wants to withhold raises from public school teachers who teach topics the Legislature has prohibited. 

House Democrats wrote:

"School Funding Debate Update: According to Republican Rep. Jeff Shipley, teachers should not receive a pay raise if they teach American history that Republicans don’t agree with.#ShipleysGonnaShipley"

The Democratic caucus was responding to a comment Shipley made during a Feb. 10 debate on the state’s education budget. "If Critical Race Theory is important to a teacher, they just don’t get a pay raise for that year," Shipley said in that debate.

The House voted 94 to 1 to approve HF 2315, which provided for the state’s funding for public schools in fiscal 2023. Shipley was the lone "no" vote.

We spoke with Shipley after the Democrats wrote their February 2022 tweet and he said it does not accurately represent what he said on the House floor. He said it was a mischaracterization. 

"From my perspective, the problems get worse, the more money we spend," Shipley said to The Daily Iowan, PolitiFact’s Iowa partner. "I really want to examine the policy more than the funding."

Some background: A  2021 state law says public school teachers cannot "teach, advocate, act upon, or promote divisive concepts" that include racial or sexual stereotyping and scapegoating that includes blaming inherent discrimination on someone’s race or sex.

The bill was touted as a ban on Critical Race Theory, the concept that race is a social construct, and that racism is not just an individual’s prejudice, but something that’s embedded within legal systems and policies. Critical Race Theory was not being taught in Iowa’s public schools before the law passed.

Shipley supported the 2021 law, which prohibited "assigning fault, blame, or bias to a race or sex, or to members of a race or sex because of their race or sex, or claiming that, consciously or unconsciously, and by virtue of persons’ race or sex, members of any race are inherently racist or are inherently inclined to oppress others, or that members of a sex are inherently sexist or inclined to oppress others."

"No one teaches that members of a race or sex are inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive," University of Iowa Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies Department Chair Leslie Schwalm told The Daily Iowan at the time. "In fact, one of the things that Critical Race Theory helps us understand is that racism isn’t about individual acts of discrimination, but rather about the system."

The House version of the bill was introduced by Rep. Steven Holt, R-Denison, and passed the House for a final time on May 6, 2021, of a vote of 53 to 35. All 53 in favor were Republican, Shipley being among them. "I do believe the term ‘white privilege’ is racist on its face," Shipley said while arguing in favor of the bill, HF802, last year. "What stifles communication is blatant accusations of racism."

During debate on the school funding bill, Shipley rescinded an amendment he had introduced that stated that Iowa teachers would not receive a raise if they had violated state law that prohibits teaching ideas determined to be divisive concepts

Shipley told The Daily Iowan in the recent interview, "If you got into the teaching profession because you want to teach critical race theory to children, while you’re still technically at liberty to do so, don’t be surprised if lawmakers aren’t going to give you a pay raise and you got to stay at your base salary." 

He continued, "As a legislator voting on pay raises for these people, I want to make sure that you know if you’re getting a pay raise from the state of Iowa, that you’re at the very least making an effort to follow state law."

School boards approve pay raises for teachers, not legislators, although legislators have an impact on boards’ available money when approving how much state money school districts receive.

Our ruling 

Democrats in the Iowa House accused Shipley of saying teachers should not get pay raises if what they teach doesn’t align with what Republicans want. Shipley says they mischaracterized his House floor comments.

The Democrats’ tweet leaves open the suggestion that Shipley would punish teachers for teaching anything Republicans don’t approve of, which would be a stretch of what he talked about on the House floor. But, Shipley made clear that he thinks teachers who veer into teaching that inherent racism exists or tenets of critical race theory should not get raises. We rate the tweet to be Mostly True.

Our Sources

Iowa House Democrats Tweet, Feb. 10, 2022

Daily Iowan phone interview with Jeff Shipley, Feb. 16, 2022

Iowa House Education Budget Debate, Feb. 10, 2022

House Education Training Debate, March 16, 2021 

Des Moines Register, "Iowa House passes bill seeking to ban ‘divisive’ school, university, government diversity trainings" by Ian Richardson March 21, 2021

Center Square, Feb. 11, 2022

House file 802, March 16, 2021

Amendment 8015 to HF 2316, Feb. 10, 2022

Education Week, "What is Critical Race Theory and Why is it Under Attack?" by Stephen Sawchuk, May 18, 2021

House File 802 Bill History

Iowa Code, Chapter 16

Email statement from Kristen Pederson, Iowa City school district communications director, to The Daily Iowan, Feb. 28, 2022

Jeff Shipley says teachers should not get raises if pushing topics the Legislature banned in law

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