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Iowa teacher shares why he's had enough and is leaving the classroom

Talk of Iowa, hosted by Charity Nebbe

A Johnston teacher’s resignation came after a state lawmaker’s personal attack against his inclusive classroom. Then we move on to a conversation about what exactly it means to challenge a book in your local library.

At the end of Neal Patel's third year teaching in the Johnston School District, he's leaving. The teacher said a confluence of local politics and personal attacks have led to his "difficult" decision.

Last May, a picture of Patel's classrooms was circulated online by Iowa Republican Rep. Steve Holt of Crawford County. It showed his LGBTQ pride flag flying in his classroom.

“Left-wing political activism taught through critical race theory and/or anti-racism training is inappropriate on the taxpayer’s dime," Holt wrote on Facebook. "We will continue to work to stop left-wing indoctrination of our students.”

On this episode of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe speaks to Patel himself about the issues that led him to decide to leave the teaching profession.

Key in this story were the recent moves in Johnston and other Iowa school districts to ban certain books from school libraries. Nebbe also speaks to Jennifer Burek Pierce, a professor of library science, about what book challenges are and what you need to know about them.


  • Neal Patel, ninth-grade physical science teacher in the Johnston Community School District
  • Jennifer Burek Pierce, professor of library and information science at the University of Iowa
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Zachary Oren Smith is a reporter covering Eastern Iowa