INDIANAPOLIS — Paul Farmer testified Monday against House Bill 1134 and he was back at the Indiana Statehouse Wednesday talking to his legislators, trying to stop the proposed legislation.
The bill seeks to give parents more say in what is being taught through the creation of a curricular materials advisory committee in each school district.
The bill would also limit what teachers can say in class about sensitive subjects. They could not "present any form of racial or sex-stereotyping or blame on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, national origin, or political affiliation."
Farmer has taught biology, physics, and chemistry in the Monroe County Community School Corporation for 34 years.
"There are some situations around the state that parents get upset because their voice, they feel like it's not being heard,” said Farmer. “I get that. But there are ways that they can do that locally. We don't have to have a state law that micromanages every detail of educational life.”
House Bill 1134 passed out of the Education Committee Wednesday and now goes before the full chamber for consideration. Farmer worries that lawmakers don’t understand the consequences the legislation could have on the teaching profession.
"This stuff is moving so quickly,” said Farmer. “They don't have time. It's like, 'Oh, I guess it passed out of committee, so it's OK.' And the answer is, no, it's not. It is not OK and we have to put the brakes on."
Farmer said the additional curriculum work required by the bill is unrealistic and would only make the teacher shortage in Indiana worse.
"It would harm our ability to honestly and openly present curriculum,” said Keith Gambill, president of the Indiana State Teachers Association.
Teachers are lobbying for legislation that would allow them to collectively bargain in their district for class size and prep time.
"We know our community,” said Tim Conner, a fifth grade teacher in Delphi for 38 years. “We know our kids. We know our school. We work well with the board. We work well with the administrators. So trust us to do the right thing. We won't let you down."
The Indiana State Teachers Association says 600 teacher jobs are unfilled across the state and legislation that increases the burden on teachers chases more people away from the classroom.