Letter: HB 1134 says more about adults than children



I am writing regarding the future of House Bill 1134 as it moves to the Senate for consideration in the Indiana General Assembly. I taught social studies for over a decade in Carmel Clay Schools. We proudly live in this community, and we send our children to CCS schools. I worry deeply about the impact this legislation will have on not only our students, but our community.

Proponents of this bill are attempting to solve a problem that, much to my understanding, has no proof of widespread existence. It assumes that our children are fragile, so unable to critically think, examine and consider information that they must be shielded from anything that may be unsettling. Life is full of unexpected obstacles, diverse viewpoints and opinions, and circumstances that will not always align with our preferences. To pretend otherwise is a disservice to our children.

The passage of this legislation has the potential to limit so severely what is taught in our schools that it will not be without consequences. The language of this bill has the very real potential to rob our students of the ability to explore a variety of viewpoints and experiences. Exposure to both in a school setting is critical to help them formulate their own personal worldviews and opinions. This then helps them develop into wholly capable, intelligent, informed and confident adults.

Additionally, this legislation threatens the future economic success of our community. It will jeopardize the standing of our community as a desirable place to live and will discourage owners from locating their businesses here. Furthermore, the excellence that Carmel Clay Schools are known for will be threatened as the statewide teacher shortage will be exacerbated. This will lead to larger classes, fewer class offerings and less individualized attention for our students.

As I have followed this legislation, and various other movements of the last few years, I have concluded that this isn’t really about the education of our children. In fact, I believe the current debate says more about us as adults than it does about our children. In a culture that has become seemingly intolerant to the nuance and complexity of positions, viewpoints and opinions, I wonder, what type of future are we creating for our children? Do we really want them to believe that every encounter with a viewpoint or life experience that is different from our own understanding is a zero-sum contest?

The history of the world is both complicated and beautiful. Our current society, just like our country’s past, is full of successes and failures, of acts of great courage and moral neglect, of people who look like us and those who don’t. To rob our children of our full truth as a nation is to do a great injustice to the complexity of our country. Furthermore, it sends the message to our children that imperfections and mistakes should be hidden, not used to grow and mature, which may be the most damaging of all.

Alicia Noneman, Carmel