The members of the Indiana General Assembly possess a real passion for solving problems that don’t exist or that they created themselves.
Real problems, on the other hand, they pretend not to see.
The push to pass a measure modeled after Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law is a perfect example.
Indiana House Bill 1608 produced a tumult at the Hoosier Statehouse on a cloudy Monday. People showed up to testify against the bill, others simply to demonstrate in opposition to it and a fewer number to show support for the proposed law.
It’s doubtful that all the uproar changed many—and maybe not any—minds.
That’s the thing about manufactured crises.
They’re impossible to resolve because they don’t exist in the first place. People can argue endlessly about concepts in the abstract when they are not forced to deal with or acknowledge facts.
The language in HB 1608 is charged with implied urgency:
“A school, an employee or staff member of a school, or a third party vendor used by a school to provide instruction may not provide any instruction to a student in kindergarten through grade 3 on human sexuality.”
It sounds as if there were an epidemic of elementary school teachers in Indiana talking about sex, sex, sex, nothing but sex.
I’ve spent a fair amount of my life in elementary school classrooms.
Before my wife and I married, a good friend who was an elementary school principal told me many of her students needed a male presence in their lives. She talked me into coming up to the school on my lunch hours to organize kickball games and other activities. From there, I took some turns substitute teaching or organizing outings and events for the kids.
When my wife and I had our daughter and son, we both were active parents, in and out of our children’s schools often.
In all my time in schools, I never saw a teacher attempting to instruct a kindergartener, a first-grader, a second-grader or a third-grader about sexuality.
I did see them trying to teach small children things like reading, writing and basic arithmetic. They even tried to encourage the little folk to sing and do drawings.
A few times I saw them attempt to instruct kids that they weren’t allowed to bully or be mean to other children just because they were a little bit different—you know, the kind of thing that, in an earlier, kinder age, used to be called plain good manners or basic common decency.
Now, I would think that the people pushing HB 1608 would be able to cite incident after incident after incident of this happening.
Otherwise, they’re stirring people up for no reason other than political posturing—and spending a lot of legislative time, which equates to taxpayer money, in the process.
Surely, our noble Hoosier lawmakers wouldn’t be that irresponsible, would they?
I mean, that would be like believing that a complicated legal concept like critical race theory is being taught in public schools and using it as a pretext to erase embarrassing references regarding America’s tortured history of slavery and racial injustice from curricula and classrooms.
People couldn’t possibly be gullible or weak-minded enough to swallow an obvious political maneuver such as that, could they?
I mean, wouldn’t they realize that the object of education is to search for the truth, not run from it?
Then again, many of the people backing the “Don’t Say Gay” bill are the same ones who insisted that creating the most expansive and expensive school voucher program in America would lift student achievement. Even when test scores didn’t rise as they promised, they still pushed to expand the program—and to remove voucher and charter schools from the accountability measures imposed on traditional public schools.
I guess it’s like the old saying:
“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me a bunch of times, well, elect me to the legislature and let me stay forever.”
Once they get into the Indiana General Assembly, they spend their time “solving” nonexistent problems like CRT and a fraudulent epidemic of sexual instruction for kids just figuring out crayons while ignoring real problems, like a statewide teacher shortage and struggling schools.
Let’s help these folks with a campaign slogan that speaks to their real goal.
How does “make America dumb again” sound?
John Krull is director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism and publisher of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students. The views expressed are those of the author only and should not be attributed to Franklin College. Send comments to email@example.com.