Public Schools Week is Feb. 21-25, and it’s appropriate that it follows Valentine’s Day. Our schools deserve our love.
No matter where you live in Indiana, a public school will take your children. Does your child have a learning disability? She is welcome. Does he struggle with strong emotions? He is welcome. Is the fifth-grade class overflowing? Administrators will make space. Public schools serve every child, no matter ability, immigration status, income level, ideology, race, gender or religion. In them, we learn to live with and respect people unlike ourselves. Public schools unite us.
Close to 1 million Indiana children attend public schools. As the pandemic has shown, schools make it possible for our state to function. Like highways, fire departments and social services, they’re essential public infrastructure. And like those entities, they require our attention and material support to work well.
Lawmakers have funneled billions away from public schools to private schools and privately managed charter schools. Now they are considering bills that would further damage our public schools. House Bill 1134 would have the effect of limiting frank discussions of racism and history and set up roadblocks to providing mental health support for students.
Senate Bill 17 would expose librarians and school districts to criminal prosecution while encouraging censorship. And HB 1072 would force school districts to share referendum funds—additional local property taxes approved by voters—with charter schools, even though part of the reason public schools lack money is that charters continue to be approved and expanded.
To support public schools, ask your state representative for a “no” vote on bills that would do harm (go to indianacoalitionforpubliced.org and click on “Bills We’re Watching”). And send a note of gratitude to the many people who work in our public schools, educating and caring for our children, Indiana’s future.
Jennifer Robinson, vice chair
Indiana Coalition for Public Education—Monroe County