Apparently, that is the new strategy promoted by Indiana State Senator Dennis Kruse.
Sometimes, studying cultural battles over America’s schools seems like Yogi Berra’s déjà vu all over again. But this one sounds new to me.
Thanks to the Sensuous Curmudgeon, we learn of Kruse’s new strategy. Apparently, having failed to promote a two-models creation/evolution bill in the last legislative session, Kruse plans to offer a bill that will encourage students in Indiana’s schools to ask teachers to back up ideas with facts.
According to the Indianapolis Star, Kruse defended his plan as a “truth-in-education” measure: “. . . if a student thinks something isn’t true, then they can question the teacher and the teacher would have to come up with some kind of research to support that what they are teaching is true or not true.”
Kruse’s new strategy comes on the heels of new rules in New Hampshire and Missouri that will allow every public school student to recuse himself or herself from curricular materials he or she finds objectionable. As I’ve argued elsewhere, these laws just won’t work. Ideology and theology and biology aside, the classroom implementation of such regulations seems utterly impossible.
As the Indianapolis Star reports, critics have pointed out similar flaws with Kruse’s plan. Nate Schnellenberger, president of the Indiana State Teachers Association, argued that teachers could be asked to supply proof of everything, from evolution to the moon landing. “It’s not workable,” Schnellenberger concluded.
The intention of such bills is clear: conservatives hope to protect students from indoctrination in ideas they find loathsome. In Kruse’s case, he takes a weatherbeaten play from the old progressive playbook to make it happen. If students can direct their own educations—challenging the classroom authority of their teachers on every point—then the chances of swallowing objectionable ideas decreases dramatically.
As in Missouri and New Hampshire, conservatives find themselves fighting for the old progressive dream: an individualized education for every child in public schools. Will it work in Indiana?