Education reform increasingly partisan; some ‘concepts’ may be banned | Columnists

Here’s a pop quiz: what do Richard Lugar, Joe Donnelly, Mike Brown and Todd Houston have in common?

Early in their public service careers, they served on local or parish school boards. This is because the Indiana General Assembly has a law – House of Representatives Bill 1182 – that politicizes school council races, which are currently held on a non-partisan basis. “I think you can distinguish between financial responsibility and moral character,” said state spokesman J.D. Prescott, R-Union City, which sponsors the bill. “Having this on the ballot will help voters tell a little more about the candidate.”

The newly elected chairman of the Republican Party of Hamilton County Mario Massilamani explained: “We will participate in school council races. For the past six or eight years, Democrats have nominated candidates because they are non-partisan. They help candidates behind the scenes. Those days are over. “

And there is Bill 1134, which requires teachers to post a class plan outline annually by August 1, including textbooks, articles, and surveys that teachers plan to include, as well as course programs. This is the so-called “critical race theory” legislation, which entered conservative politics last year.

State Sen. Linda Rogers, R-Elkhart, proposed an amendment Wednesday that would narrow the list of “concepts” lawmakers want to ban in the eight-to-three classroom by removing one that would prohibit teachers from teaching that students should feel guilty or uncomfortable. based on their personal characteristics such as race or national origin.

A similar bill – Senate Bill 167 – was rejected after its author, State Sen. Scott Baldwin, R-Noblesville, said “we must be impartial” when it comes to teaching Marxism and Nazism.

Baldwin retreated quickly after being slapped in night shows: “Nazism, Marxism and fascism are a stain on our world history and should be considered as such, and I failed to adequately articulate this in my comments during the meeting.”

Indians Democrats see HB 1134 as a key link to what they call “cultural wars” and the politicization of school policy. Party chief executive Lauren Ganapini said: “It is important for Hoosiers to know that Republicans in India will do their best to use conspiracy theories and disinformation to politicize our classes just to influence elections.”

While Hoosier’s school board races have been non-partisan, there is a long history of school boards striving for social change in the political sphere. When Richard Lugar joined the Indianapolis School Board in 1964, he called on the council to adopt federal funding for school lunch programs, which the Conservatives opposed. The future mayor and senator also introduced and adopted the “Shortridge Plan,” which voluntarily desegregated public schools. It was quickly repealed, leading to a federal bus desegregation plan that lasted three decades and caused a “white escape” from Central Township to the surrounding suburbs.

Since the pandemic in 2020, school boards have become a hotbed of unrest due to camouflage, social distancing and virtual attendance. Several school boards were forced to suspend public discussion of part of their meetings.

These bills, which are being considered by the General Assembly, are coming at a critical juncture.

The pandemic has negatively affected millions of students. According to a 2021 McKinsey & Co. analysis: “The impact of the pandemic on K-12 student learning was significant, leaving students lagging behind by an average of five months in math and four months in reading by the end of the school year. High school students are more likely to drop out of school, and high school students, especially from low-income families, are less likely to go to secondary education.

USA Today reported that 60% of current freshmen are women. This prompted Purdue President Mitch Daniels to ask in his annual letter to the university on Jan. 5, “Where are all the men?”

“There is nothing new in this phenomenon; it has been at least three decades, ”Daniels continued. “New was the realization that in the knowledge economy, where the educational powers and skills that (theoretically) they provide are becoming increasingly necessary; leaving half the population would be a challenge for society. How ironic that after half a century of historical progress that has fully integrated women into the economic, social and political life of the country, we have regained the enormous social achievements of this rise because men have stopped advocating their end. ”

And, according to an Indiana State University annual survey published by the Terre Haute Tribune-Star, 96.5% of Indiana school districts reported teacher shortages, the highest in seven years of a survey of school corporations. Terry McDaniel, ISU professor of educational leadership, said: “As a result, we see teachers burn out, get scared, frustrated and no longer enjoy the profession. We also see fewer people entering the profession. ”

Lewis Cass School Board member Amy Miller resigned, telling the Logansport Pharos-Tribune: “The council has been under increasing pressure to take a more party position, and that worries me.”

Last week, Reuters reported that “local school officials across the United States are inundated with threats of violence and other hostile reports from anonymous persecutors across the country, fueled by anger over the cultural war.

There is great volatility in our education sector, and these reforms are ready to intensify them.

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