Indiana v. Education

Mill Stream Staff

With our phones in our hands, iPads on our desks, and TVs in our homes, the potential to become blinded by misinformation exists in every student’s life. As opinionated people battle ruthlessly for dominance on our screens, it’s nearly impossible to keep the story straight. Each individual who tells it seems to cherry-pick which facts they will use, and which they will throw out, until the narrative is nearly unrecognizable. Oftentimes, our teachers are one of our only sources for a realistic perspective on the world around us. We depend on them and the truth they provide. However, recent state legislation reveals that even they are at risk. In its efforts to mandate educational transparency and unbiased instruction in the classroom, House Bill 1134 instead pressures teachers to omit factual information in a way that will be detrimental to our learning. 

The bill prevents what it deems inappropriate instruction, which is defined as lessons that encourage students to adopt a certain belief about a “sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, national origin, or political affiliation.” 

Who gets to identify those lessons? Not us. 

The interpretation is left up to parents and community members, thus empowering strangers—some of whom are unaffected by this issue—to decide what we learn and what we don’t. People like Ruby Bridges, the first black student to desegregate an all-white elementary school in the South at just six years old, could be erased from history because of the potential guilt her story could trigger. Teachers in the LGBTQ community could be prevented from discussing their personal lives with students because the bill’s authors believe their example could influence students’ own decisions about their gender and sexuality. The potential protests are not only out of our control—they’re completely unpredictable. 

And violating the restrictions outlined in HB 1134, no matter how vague, could result in terrifying consequences for teachers. They could lose a portion of their pay, they could be fired, and they could even go to court and ultimately be suffocated under mountains of legal debt. A teacher’s job, on its most basic level, is to equip the younger generations with the information and skills they need to build a better future. Can our teachers truly do this effectively if every move they make is dissected and taken out of context for the benefit of a community consumed by fear? Would they even want to? 

Truth isn’t something that is earned or bought. It isn’t inherited upon a death or bestowed at a coming of age. Failure to acknowledge the truth doesn’t change the truth, and failure to communicate the truth is a lie within itself. At its core, truth is something that everyone has a right to possess and share, especially future generations. And we want it so badly. As students committed to bettering ourselves and society as a whole, we want to experience the world around us, learn about new and different perspectives, and develop our own informed opinions about the information we find. However, we can only do this if we are taught the truth, and that starts in our classrooms with the unencumbered knowledge our teachers have to offer us.