Editor’s note: This story first appeared in the News-Gazette in Winchester, Indiana, on February 17, 2022, which is a related newspaper. Bill 1134 of the Indiana House of Representatives, if passed, would apply to all Indiana schools. This story is reprinted to give our readers more information about what the bill will mean across the state.
INDIA – Currently, Indiana House 1134 Bill: Education Issues, a bill that aims to ensure transparency for parents when it comes to their child’s education, among other topics related to education, is currently making its way through the House and Senate. The bill, which has garnered much criticism from educators, was co-authored with the 33rd County State’s J.W. D. Prescott.
In the wake of much talk for and against the bill, The (Winchester, Indiana) News Gazette asked Prescott to find out if he would agree to a question-and-answer article to clarify the bill’s purpose. Prescott agreed, so The News Gazette asked readers to provide comments, questions and concerns regarding the 1134 House bill.
Although the bill is still changing, Prescott took the same set of questions that were asked earlier and answered them. However, due to changes in language and Senate amendments, some issues may have become irrelevant in their original form. These questions and answers are as follows:
1 – How does this bill help students in district 33?
The purpose of the bill is to provide transparency for parents, which information is taught in the classroom. This will help make sure the material used is suitable for the classroom and libraries.
2- What does this bill teach students when parents can drop many lessons a year? If a student grows up thinking he can “get out” of what he doesn’t like, what will happen if he has to comply with speed limit, work or participate in jury duties?
Parts of the waiver were removed from the bill as amended by the Senate.
3 – Why did none of the questions in your poll relate to this piece of legislation, if you thought it was a question that you consider a co-author?
Participants’ contributions are incredibly important, and surveys are just one way to measure feedback. The questions of the poll cannot and do not cover all the legislation considered by the General Assembly, and the absence of any topic of the poll does not mean that I am less supportive.
4 – For many students, school is a safe place. They come from hard homes, and teachers are the only adult in their lives they trust to talk about serious issues such as suicidal thoughts and emotional trauma they have experienced. This bill does not allow teachers to discuss these issues with students without parental permission. The bill allows for “emergencies” but does not define them. How will this bill help students who are not only experiencing mental health problems caused by the COVID pandemic, but may also be experiencing problems at home if teachers cannot even touch on the subject for fear of breaking the law?
This bill does not prohibit teachers from handling these emergencies.
5 – Do you think that your score will increase the results of IRead / ILearn, while getting rid of extra time for corrections in class?
If this bill is passed, this bill will not affect state standards or the ability of teachers to help students succeed in their studies.
6 – If the bill is passed, how do you expect teachers to correct students in unforeseen circumstances? examples: virtual days, quarantine, social problems in the classroom
Under the bill, teachers will be able to correct students normally.
7 – I am one of the few black teachers in the region. I grew up in South Georgia, survived Jim Crow and some of the ugliness of that period. I often use some of the stories about my personal difficulties to help motivate my students when they enter the adult world. By passing this bill, will it silence the story and experiences I had?
This bill does not restrict the teaching of any historical events.
8 – Who will be a member of the Curriculum Advisory Committee in each school system?
Parent and teacher curriculum advisory committees will be optional under the Senate amendment, and members will be appointed by the local school board. The committees will be of an advisory nature only and may consider and recommend training materials.
9 – The Indiana Education Job Bank website has more than 800 vacancies. Due to the shortage of teachers in Indiana, what is this bill doing to encourage new teachers to take positions and current teachers to stay when the bill adds so many restrictions and extra work for teachers at no extra charge?
The purpose of this legislation is to increase the transparency and empowerment of Hoosier parents. This bill seeks to find a balance between parents across the state who have made it clear that they want to know what is taught in the classroom, and teachers who need the flexibility to do their job. Under the Senate amendment, teachers will not be required to post curricula for the year. Although the vast majority of schools already post teaching materials on the online portal, the bill simply ensures that all schools use a learning management portal, and will allow parents to access their child’s curriculum.
10 – If this is really good for students, why are private schools not included in this legislation?
Private schools have a completely different operating structure than public schools. The bill includes all traditional public and state statutory schools.