Goodnight, Anti-Indoctrination Bills, and Good Riddance
Five measures under consideration in these four states in 2019—Arizona’s House Bill 2002, Maine’s House Paper 433, South Dakota’s House Concurrent Resolution 1002 (PDF) and House Bill 1113 (PDF), and Virginia’s House Joint Resolution 684—would have required or urged the adoption of a code of ethics for public school teachers, purportedly to prevent them from engaging in “political or ideological indoctrination.”
If these anti-indoctrination measures sound like a solution in search of a problem, it’s because they are. Despite a handful of ballyhooed counterexamples, it’s rare for teachers to engage in indoctrination. They are trained, after all, to educate. And even with regard to socially controversial issues, surveys indicate that, for good or for ill, teachers tend to teach in accordance with the mores of their communities.
Unsurprisingly, the backers of these anti-indoctrination measures rarely offered any evidence that there is a problem. The sponsor of the Arizona bill, for example, claimed that he introduced it after he was “inundated” by complaints about teachers from parents. But a public records request from the Arizona Republic revealed that he received just a single e-mail from a parent—after, not before, he introduced his bill.