Rod Serling's opening narration for The Obsolete Man,
The Twilight Zone, Season 2, Episode 29, June 2, 1961
The Twilight Zone keeps becoming more and more prescient.
Indiana, like several other states, is debating new legislation ostensibly aimed at removing bias from education. Labeled "Education Matters," Senate Bill 167 and House Bill 1134 create a system in which teacher's lesson plans must be posted by June 30 for the following year and available to parents to review, curriculum must be determined by a committee composed of 40% parents and community members and 40% educators, allow parents to opt their child out of any part of the curriculum they desire with a simple request, prohibit educators from repeatedly interacting with students on social-emotional issues without prior parental consent, and prohibit teachers from providing any qualitative assessment on a host of categories.
There are a lot of sections of these bills that are getting attention. For example, the bill includes:
Chapter 1.5 Diginity and Nondiscrimination in Education
Sec. 2 (a) In accordance with IC 20-33-1-1, a state agency ..., school corporation, or qualified school shall not include or promote the following concepts as a part of a course of instruction or in a curriculum or instructional program or allow teachers or other employees of the school corporation or qualified school, acting in their official capacity, to use supplemental instructional materials that include or promote the following concepts:
(1) That any sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, national origin, or political affiliation is inherently superior or inferior to another sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, national origin, or political affiliation.
(2) That an individual, by virtue of their sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, national origin, or political affiliation is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.
(5) That an individual's moral character is necessarily determined by the individual's sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, national origin, or political affiliation.
(6) That an individual, by virtue of the individual's sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, national origin, or political affiliation, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, national origin, or political affiliation.
(7) That any individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, responsibility, or any other form of psychological distress on account of the individual's sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, national origin, or political affiliation.
The intent is clear. This is the anti-"Critical Race Theory" boogey man bill. This is really an "anti-dealing with race in anyway" bill. It isn't even subtle. There are provisions that prevent schools from promoting any kind of race based instruction for their teachers. There are provisions that prohibit any kind of racial sensitivity training for school employees. As you can see above, teachers are prohibited from taking any side in discussing this with students. It prohibits colleges from including anything related to the categories above in a teacher preparation program. All curriculum must be approved by a newly created committee and every parent can opt out of any portion they object to with the ease of a click.
From the section provided above, teachers could not, for example, state that Nazis are bad, because Nazism is a political affiliation. Because teachers can not even include anything above in their instruction, they could not include contemporaneous statements of people regarding their positions in the Civil War, or the Civil Rights movement. Teachers could not discuss any kind of systemic racism, only referring to it as an individual belief.
Another section even prevents a qualified school from providing a student with ongoing or recurring consultation, collaboration, or intervention services for mental, social-emotional, or psychological health issues, or from referring a student to any such services without prior parental permission. What's the point of a school counselor then?
There are so many sections like this, it's almost overwhelming. But this is not the worst part of the bill.
The worst part of the bill is not what it adds to education laws, it's what it removes. Existing educational law has the following provision:
Section 12 IC 20-30-5-17: Sec. 17 (b) A student shall not be required to participate in a personal analysis, an evaluation, or a survey, that is not directly related to academic instruction and that reveals or attempts to affect the student's attitudes, habits, traits, opinions, beliefs, or feelings concerning:
(1) political affiliation;
(2) religious beliefs or practices;
(3) mental or psychological conditions that may embarrass the student or the student's family;
(4) sexual behavior or attitudes;
(5) illegal, antisocial, self-incriminating, or demeaning behavior;
(6) critical appraisals of other individuals with whom the student has a close family relationship;
(7) legally recognized privileged or confidential relationships, including a relationship with a lawyer, minister, or physician; or
(8) income (except as required by law to determine eligibility for participation in a program or for receiving financial assistance under a program);
without the prior consent of the student if the student is an adult or an emancipated minor or the prior written consent of the student's parent if the student is an unemancipated minor.
The new proposed legislation removes the defense of a request directly related to academic instruction and removes all of "concerning" limitations. So the new text reads:
Section 12 IC 20-30-5-17: Sec. 17 (b) A student shall not be required to participate in a personal analysis, an evaluation, or a survey, that reveals or attempts to affect the student's attitudes, habits, traits, opinions, beliefs, or feelings without the prior written consent of the student if the student is an adult or an emancipated minor or the prior written consent of the student's parent if the student is an unemancipated minor.
Now a teacher cannot have a student provide his opinions without the prior written consent of the student's parents.
How far does this extend? Doesn't that just prevent a teacher from asking a student to provide any answer in English, Arts, Music, Literature, etc..? Previously, the law was structured to have a teacher avoid topics that would be illegal to ask under other provisions of the law. It was having a teacher avoid First Amendment issues, issues of privilege, issues of embarrassment/harassment. Now a teacher cannot ask a student to reveal their opinion about anything without the parent's written permission.
And this strikes at the ugly heart of the proposed law - it does not view children as people.
Children, under this provision, have no independent persona of their own. They are an extension of their parents. And they are to be instructed in only what their parent wishes them to be instructed, so that they believe exactly as their parents believe.
A child cannot be allowed to have independent thought. That would not do.
Their mind is obsolete.
This is simply an extension of that primal fear that White conservatives have, of their children going off to college and being corrupted by "liberal" thought. The fear that colleges are just indoctrinating our youth.
It was never true, but that's beside the point. Sure, you may find a handful of professors that will sneer at conservative thought. But that's not the reason that children would change their beliefs when they went off to college. That doesn't happen because people are pressuring them to change their beliefs. It happens because they go out into the world and encounter a wider world of differing thoughts and experiences. It's because they escape the bubble of their existence and find out what they really believe, not just what they were told to believe.
All we are seeing is an attempt to enlarge the bubble. We're seeing parents desperate to keep their children under their belief system, by making sure they are exposed to nothing else. To never have their beliefs questioned or challenged. To never see or experience anything else. To never have anyone disagree with them.
To make sure their children never really grow. No challenge, no struggle, no growth.
The mind is treated as a slate to be programmed, not grown. Education must only input facts and data, and never teach to question. Do not encourage curiosity. Do not encourage debate. Do not encourage real belief in anything.
To that end, teachers must be only babysitters. They become extensions of the parent's in providing only the instruction on topics they agree to and with. Children are clones to be programmed with that content.
That's where we all lose from this law. It seeks to create a generation of compliant copies of their parents. An appeasement to keep our current balance, a detente if you will.
If there is any good news, it's that the current generation won't stand for it. They are already calling us out on our bull, and they will see right through this as well. They are rightfully deconstructing their faiths already and are finding the earthly representations of them wanting. They will do the same with education. It's already been occurring, as far too many of them see the harm that has already been done.
Hopefully, we can convince the Indiana House and Senate of their error as well.
Let's avoid that Twilight Zone if we can.
The chancellor, the late chancellor, was only partly correct. He was obsolete. But so is the State, the entity he worshiped. Any state, entity, or ideology becomes obsolete when it stockpiles the wrong weapons: when it captures territories, but not minds; when it enslaves millions, but convinces nobody. When it is naked, yet puts on armor and calls it faith, while in the Eyes of God it has no faith at all. Any state, any entity, any ideology that fails to recognize the worth, the dignity, the rights of Man...that state is obsolete. A case to be filed under "M" for "Mankind" - in The Twilight Zone.
Serling's scripted closing narration for The Obsolete Man