Let’s face it, our k-12 public education experience has always been inequitable. Its foundation began as a broken system. It doesn’t matter where you are within the United States, the teacher ratio of Hispanic/Latino representation is drastically lacking, quite notably more so in the Midwest. How many times have you had a Hispanic/Latino teacher during your k-12 career? I know for me, personally, I had one Mexican teacher throughout my entire k-12 public school experience, and it was just for one 50-minute class in high school. I never saw anyone like me other than my Spanish teacher. Unfortunately, you just do not see teachers who look like you.
According to the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, “Over the last 10 years, Indiana has become more diverse racially and ethnically, and by socioeconomic status. More students are non-White and more come from low-income households today, than in recent history,” (Indiana College Equity Report 2021). Yet, according to National Center for Education Statistics, only 9.3% of the nation’s teachers are Hispanic/Latino. That is a staggering number compared to the 79.3% of white, non-Hispanic teachers that comprise the majority of the nation’s public schools’ k-12 classroom teacher makeup. Why does all this matter? A shortage of teachers rarely provides access when its system is already inequitable. And to add more harm to the public education system, a recent Indiana House bill has been introduced and is pending a senate majority vote. Its name is HB1134.
Indiana HB 1134 essentially censors what Indiana teachers can discuss in the classroom regarding race, history, and politics. This means the curriculum will be required to be vetted a year in advance to be reviewed by a curriculum review committee which comprises a majority of parents deciding whether or not a lesson will be taught. If certain lessons are deemed inappropriate, parents can choose to opt out of that lesson altogether, and an alternate assignment would be required to be created for that student. So much for critical thinking, so much for inclusion. You don’t ensure equity by erasing the history of the oppressed. It is just a repeating of a cycle of more oppression from the oppressor.
As of February 2022, there are 841 vacant teaching positions available in the state of Indiana. Perhaps the senate will agree with the teachers as well as one of Indiana’s largest public school systems, Fort Wayne Community Schools, that this bill is just not a good idea. We will see how the senate votes on Wednesday, February 16th.
- Indiana College Equity Report 2021. (2021, July 12). Indiana Commission for Higher Education. Retrieved February 14, 2022, from https://www.in.gov/che/college-equity-reports/.
- School Personnel Job Bank – Job Search (in.gov)
- S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS), “Public School Teacher Data File,” 2017–18.