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Pfaff votes against bill to burden educators, leave students behind

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INDIANAPOLIS – Rep. Tonya Pfaff (D-Terre Haute) offered the following statement upon the passage of House Bill 1134 by a vote of 60-37. Pfaff, a high school math teacher, voted against the bill: 

“I have received over 900 emails asking me to vote no on this bill,” Pfaff said. “Not one of them has said we need less parental involvement. We, as teachers, want parents involved. I have sat on curriculum committees with parents picking math textbooks. After about 10 minutes of comparing standards and pacing guides, they usually say, ’I trust your choice – you are the professional.’

“This bill will fundamentally change the way we teach and interact with students. Students are not fragile. They want to learn and they want their teacher to be honest about the uncomfortable truths of the past and the present. The Internet has exposed our children to much darker and less truthful things than our history lessons or English novels that explore thought-provoking topics do. It is much less dangerous for trained professionals to explain controversial topics and then have the discussion continue at home than it is to shield our kids from distressing subjects. Our goal as educators is to teach people how to think, argue, and discuss – not what to think.

“Under the provisions of this bill, students would be able to opt out from lessons and activities their parents don’t approve of. We have had an opt-out option for sexual education for years, and as far as I know, this content is not covered on the SAT. But this bill fails to recognize that opting out of an uncomfortable topic, or simply something they don't want to study, will only end up punishing a student by not preparing them for potential testing, exams, or licensing if they miss parts of content lessons. In this last year we have heard the importance of daily in-person instruction, but if opt-out is included as an option, there may be days or weeks where students will miss information that everyone will be assessed on. 

“If this becomes law, we are failing our kids.”

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