WICHITA, Kansas – A controversial new bill moving through the state legislature will make it easier for teachers to be prosecuted for teaching material some parents may find offensive.
Senate Bill 56 passed through the Senate without much opposition, 26 to 14.
The idea behind the bill is to make it easier to prosecute teachers and school administrators for using lesson materials deemed harmful to minors.
Supporters of the bill say it will further protect children at school from being subjected to images or curriculum that could have nudity or be considered pornographic.
What do future teachers think?
Wichita State senior Shane Goldwater is studying to be a science teacher. He says the passing of Senate Bill 56 in the Kansas Senate would hinder his ability to teach.
“If I talk about evolution being taught in my classroom and someone sees that as an issue, they could take me to court and I could lose my job,” said Goldwater.
Representatives with the Kansas National Education Association say this would be seen in several other subjects as well.
“It’s going to cause teachers to be afraid to teach great literature, display or talk about great art,” said Dave Kirkbride, KNEA South Central UniServ.
If prosecuted, the penalties for teachers could be severe.
Under Kansas Statutes, a teacher prosecuted for this would be charged with a Class B Misdemeanor, which could mean no more than six months of jail time or a fine no larger than a $1,000.
While some lawmakers see this as a beneficial move, prospective teachers, like Goldwater might look to leave the state to pursue their teaching careers.
“I’ve looked into Nevada or Colorado, where after I finish my degree here, I can honestly go over there, take a couple tests in Colorado and Nevada I can go over there and start teaching there,” said Goldwater.