Halls near the Indiana Senate Chamber were packed with protesters and educators who wanted to enter the hall on Wednesday. Overlapping chatter and debates on bills echoed through the halls.
Of several contentious bills in the Senate Committee on Education and Career Development, including House Bill 1041, which affects young transgender athletes, House Bill 1134 is a potential status quo violation for educators of all generations. . The bill was severely amended during Wednesday’s hearing to remove some restrictions on what can be taught, as well as requiring teachers to post curricula, but any of those provisions could be reinstated in later legislative amendments.
In the eyes of many educators to call this bill problematic would be frivolous. They fear that their efforts, determination, creativity and desire to teach are at stake.
“It seems to me that our legislators are raising these cultural issues so as not to address the difficult issues we need to focus on,” Ken Inskip said. “Instead, they focus on what doesn’t require their attention. The legislature has no business delving into the details of how it is taught. They are not teachers, not history teachers. “
Inskip’s wife, Christina, was a former educator and advocated for both educators and transgender athletes, with a two-way sign that advocates for both.
“I know that our teachers are very capable and ready to do it at a time when the pandemic has already strained our society,” Inskip said. “We need to support our teachers. Two years ago we loved them because, “Oh, no, I can’t teach my kids at home, oh, we appreciate our teachers,” and now all of a sudden we’re burdening them with all this micromanagement? “
The national talk on critical race theory, a series of studies on racism and its historical and social accomplishments in America, seemed to have played a role in inspiring the bill, educators said.
“It’s incredibly insulting as a professional to be under this microscope, which is absolutely unnecessary,” said Wafa Sophie, a science teacher at Hamilton County High School. “And as a minority educator, as a colored person, I know what our marginalized students already feel. By adopting such bills, we restrict teachers from talking about issues we need to talk about. We are simply marginalizing our already marginalized voices. We just drive them into a corner even more. ”
Jesse Cohn of Ter-Hot, a future educator at St. Mary of the Woods College, held a sign reading that “teaching should be inconvenient.”
“I think training is at stake,” Cohn said. – I think that history often repeats itself, so if we do not teach about it and do not talk about it correctly, it can happen again. And I feel that students deserve to know the whole truth and nothing but the truth. ”
Gillian Reese of Elwood, another SMWC student, agreed. “It affects not only current teachers, but also students who would like to become teachers.”
Several teachers were concerned about the abolition of a provision that would require posting curricula online. They said many are already trying to provide this information on their own or in line with the recommendations of their school districts.
Molly Vaughn, a teacher from Jennings County, makes this information available online through Google Classroom and Canvas, both of which allow parental access. It meets the requirements of Jennings County schools.
“This bill says they want parents to be involved and know what we are doing. They already see what we are doing, ”Vaughan said, adding that a“ mass exodus ”of teachers is likely to take place if the bill is passed.
Protesters have expressed concern about declining interest in their work if the bill is passed, whether teachers will resign, or if colleges will produce fewer graduates in education.
According to educators, there is already a shortage of educators in Indiana schools. Graduates of educational specialties also struggle with the shortage of teachers entering the job.
“When I graduated from Purdue University in 2018, I had only nine people, including me in my English graduation class,” said Caitlin O’Farrell, a teacher from West Lafayette. “Since then, only four of us have remained in education, and only two of us are in Indiana. The numbers are falling so fast. I could see that such legislation would be completely overturned[ing] all from this career. “
Ariana Lowit is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, an informational site run by Franklin College student journalists.