Why Indiana House Bill 1134 Will Not Work
(and what parents can do instead)
Indiana House Bill 1134 is one of several bills that, if it becomes a law, will require teachers to post lesson plans for the entire school year, for every subject, by the end of June. This bill and similar ones also give parents the option of refusing to allow their children to participate in certain lessons. Proponents say that these laws would protect their rights to control what their children learn or are exposed to in school.
From a teacher’s point of view, there are multiple reasons why these laws would be disastrous.
First of all, at the end of June many teachers don’t even know what grade, or at what school, they will be teaching at in the fall. For untenured teachers, the end of the school year is a turbulent time. Schools often issue RIF (Reduction In Force) notices to untenured teachers and other staff. This means that the teachers are on standby as the administrators figure out their numbers for the next year. A teacher could very well end up teaching a different grade, or even be asked to move to a different school.
Plus, the end of the school year is a very busy time for teachers and students. There is testing to be done, report cards to be finished, final projects to grade, transition meetings to attend, and end of the year events that they are expected to be at, to name a few. Even during less busy times during the school year, teachers barely have time to prepare their lessons and activities for the current week, let alone for the next school year. (A teacher I know was told by administrators that he should take his contracted daily 30 minute planning time “in three to five minuts increments.”)
Even if it was possible to write lesson plans for the entire upcoming school year, it would not be practical. For most teachers, a lesson plan is a rough idea of what they want to accomplish. They are constantly adjusting their plans according to circumstsnces and their students’ needs. For example, if several students are struggling with a concept, the teacher needs to figure out a way to give those students some extra support. If most of the students are struggling, the teacher will need to spend extra time on that concept before moving on to something even more challenging. If something unexpected happens… like, say, a global pandemic… teachers have to scrap all of their plans and just figure it out on the fly. it would be nearly impossible for a teacher to strictly abide by lesson plans that they wrote six months earlier.
Also, teachers are always looking for new ideas that would work for their particular class. There are many times where a teacher will learn about some innovative, hands-on activity that would be amazing for their students. If that teacher was required to abide by a lesson plan created the previous June, those students would miss out on an excellent, authentic learning experience.
Basically, states that pass these types of laws would be setting teachers up for failure. Do we really want that for our kids? I hope not.
So what can parents do instead, if they want to have more control over their children’s educations?
One idea would be to communicate openly with your child’s school. Go to the Parent-Teacher nights. Check your email, and reply when a teacher emails you. Open your children’s backpacks once a week and read any notices that are in there. Look at the homework your child is working on, and ask them to tell you about it. If you feel like your child is falling behind, or needs to be challenged more, speak to the teacher. Most teachers want the best for their students and will be willing to hear what you have to say.
If your family has specific beliefs, and you’d rather your child not be taught things that go against these beliefs, you might already have options. For example, if you don’t want your child participating in sex education, you can let the teacher or principal know.
However, if you want to have complete control over what your child sees and hears while at school, public school is probably not your best choice. You might want to look into homeschooling. Often, groups of likeminded local families will create co-ops where their children can learn and socialize together, ensuring that parents can decide and participate in whatever their child is learning.
Private school is another option. You may be able to find a private school whose beliefs are more in alignment with your own. Some school districts offer vouchers that allow families to place their children in private schools for a reduced fee. Some private schools may offer need-based financial aid.
While we all want children to have great educations, passing laws to exert control over teachers is not the answer. These laws would make teaching nearly impossible for teachers, resulting in fewer teachers continuing their careers, and fewer people wanting to become teachers. Fewer teachers would mean more overcrowded classrooms, which would actually create lower standards for teachers. (Someone would need to be in those classrooms, and if the most qualified people were no longer willing to do it, less qualified people would have to step in.) In the end, the quality of education would decrease.
Pleade remember this when deciding on whether to vote for laws such as Indiana House Bill 1134 to be passed.
About the author
I am an alien. I’ve been diagnosed with autism and ADHD, which explain some but not all aspects of my life. Maybe I really am from a different planet. Until that planet is discovered, I have to learn to survive here on Earth.