Noblesville’s state lawmakers have been in the national news recently, and not in a positive light. A video of the committee discussion of Senate Bill 167 showed State Senator Scott Baldwin, who represents Noblesville, saying that his bill would ensure that teachers could not take a stand on “-isms,” such as Nazism. The local, state, and national reaction to this intrusive bill and Baldwin’s shocking comments, which he attempted to walk back, caused the senate to abandon it last week. That’s good news, but the Indiana House of Representatives is about to begin discussion of an almost identical bill, this time “coauthored” by Noblesville’s State Representative, Chuck Goodrich (but really it just copies language supplied by national groups to various states).
House Bill 1134, if passed, would cause the following unacceptable consequences:
- Puts an undue burden on teachers by requiring all educational materials to be available to the public in advance of the class in which they will be used.
- Requires parents to opt their children in or out of certain educational activities and curricular materials under certain conditions (and requires them to receive alternate instruction during that time), creating a time-consuming logistical nightmare and an unequal education for students.
- Forces school corporations to create a curricular committee made up of 60% parents of students in the school and led by a parent, relegating teachers and administrators to a minority of the committee that approves all instructional materials, including library books.
- Bans teachers from promoting “certain concepts” in class, which can be inferred to include teaching the history of systemic racism and its effects.
- Bans supplemental instructional materials that cause any individual to “feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, responsibility, or any other form of psychological distress on account of the individual's sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, national origin, or political affiliation.”
- Enables anyone to bring a civil suit against the school or the teacher, and enables the school board to strip teachers of their licenses, for violating the requirements of this bill.
Noblesville Schools Superintendent Dr. Beth Niedermeyer spoke out against these bills in a statement last week. “In addition to the great disservice this would do to Hoosier students, it also stands to threaten the strong academic reputations of our Indiana educational institutions, and our ability as a state to attract residents and economic development.”
IU social studies professors Alex Cuenca, Keith Barton, and Kathryn Engebretson wrote about the bills in the Indianapolis Star (January 13, 2022): “The point of threatening Indiana’s underpaid teachers with litigation because someone might mistakenly feel inferior is a calculated effort by politicians to silence teachers and create classrooms devoid of content that acknowledge the deep divisions in our society.” They go on to say, “The kind of collective ignorance represented by SB167 and HB1134 would poison shared social understandings, our capacity to understand the perspectives of others, and any semblance of informed conversations about the complex issues that we face together as a society.”
Our voices convinced the senate to abandon SB 167, so it’s time to do the same for HB 1134. Contact State Representative Chuck Goodrich and let him know that this bill is bad for Indiana teachers and students.
Rep. Chuck Goodrich
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