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Teachers in Indiana are predicting a mass exodus from the profession if a state bill restricting how educators teach critical race theory-related lessons is passed.
“I cannot imagine that we’re going to have anything other than a huge exodus of teachers if this legislation goes through,” Jim Lang, a journalism teacher at Floyd Central High School, told the Indy Star. “And I think the problem is going to be, you’re not going to have enough people to fill the positions, or some of the folks you’re going to bring in aren’t going to be qualified.”
The bill passed largely along party lines in the state House last month and was referred to the Senate Education and Career Development Committee to progress.
House Bill 1134 would prohibit educators from promoting “certain concepts as part of a course of instruction” that “compel a school employee or student to adhere to certain tenets relating to the individual’s sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, national origin, or political affiliation.”
The Star described the bill as one that would ban educators from teaching that any sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, national origin or political affiliation is superior or inferior to another, or that any individual should feel psychological distress due to their sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, national origin or political affiliation.
It would also prohibit schools from requiring students to participate in surveys that reveal or attempt ‘to affect the student’s attitudes, habits, traits, opinions, beliefs, or feelings without parental consent.”
The bill was inspired by the national debate on critical race theory and would give more power to parents via parent-centered curriculum review committees.
If the bill is passed, parents could file complaints if teachers break any of the restrictions, which in some cases could lead to lawsuits against schools. Additionally, the bill would allow the state’s secretary of education to suspend or revoke teaching licenses if educators “willfully or wantonly” violate its provisions around promoting divisive concepts, according to the Star.
“It opens the door for parents to be able to come after you for anything,” Suzanne Holcomb, an elementary school teacher in northern Indiana, told the Star.
The bill’s author, Republican state Rep. Tony Cook, said it would give more transparency and power to parents.
“The overriding intent of this bill is to provide curricular transparency,” Cook, who is a former teacher and superintendent, said. “As well as to empower parents by returning them the opportunity to participate in the curriculum process of selecting and approving instructional materials to be used by teachers in the classroom.”
Hundreds of teachers gathered outside the Indianapolis Capitol last week to protest the bill. Others are warning that the state will see a mass exodus of educators if the bill is signed into law.
“I will have to quit, or I will have to ignore it,” Lang told the Star. “I will not comply. I can’t. It’s that bad.”
The state is coping with an ongoing staffing shortage among full-time teachers and substitutes, and the state’s Department of Education shows more than 800 job listings, the Indiana outlet reported.
“It’s the last nail in the coffin,” Suzanne Holcomb, an elementary school teacher in northern Indiana, told the Star. “I don’t know how we would move forward from this. It would just make teaching impossible.”
Holcomb added that the bill “feels like an attack on education,” “an attack on our integrity,” and “Quite frankly, it’s insulting.”
“As long as I still enjoy the job, feel effective at the job, I see no reason to leave,” another teacher, Sandy James, said. “This bill could change that for me.”
The bill also has students training to be teachers rethinking their career paths.
“Anyone I know, within the last semester, has said out loud ‘I’m not sure if I’m able to do this,'” said Abby Martin, a junior at Indiana University Bloomington studying to be a high school teacher. “It’s alarming.”
Democrats and activists argue that critical race theory isn’t actually being taught in schools. But to parents reviewing their children’s lessons, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
School board meetings were inundated across the country over the last year with parents outraged with the education system for keeping racism “on life support” with CRT.
One Indiana mom, Monica Hutton, is fighting back against the lessons her ninth grade son is receiving within the Metropolitan School District of Martinsville.
“If we don’t get in charge, it’s communism,” Hutton told the Star. “It’s here.”
And though some claim that CRT isn’t being taught in schools, the Metropolitan School District of Martinsville said officials have identified areas of concern with some of its own curricula.
“The MSD of Martinsville does not support the teaching of critical race theory,” Suzie Lipps, a city council member and the superintendent’s assistant for curriculum, instruction and human resources, said at a recent school board speech. “Together, we’ve identified a few areas that present concerns and are proactively planning to ensure that all curriculum is politically neutral and balanced.”
As HB 1134 works its way through the state Capitol, Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb is watching “very closely.”
“The governor is grateful for educators in our state and the enormous role they play in preparing students for their and our state’s future,” Erin Murphy, the governor’s press secretary, told the Star. “He’s always sensitive to adding any additional burdens that will make their job more difficult.”