PORTLAND (WGME) -- A controversial bill looks to make new rules for what teachers can say when talking about politics and religion in the classroom.
Supporters say teachers shouldn't be advocating for one side or another.
Those against it say it's unnecessary.
Republican Rep. Larry Lockman says his bill is straightforward, stopping teachers in public schools from engaging in political or religious advocacy in the classroom.
“I've heard from a lot of parents not just in my district but from around the state, parents who are concerned about teachers pushing a political agenda,” Lockman said.
His bill would require the State Board of Education to come up with new rules.
Teachers who don't follow them could be fired.
“This is just not needed legislation, this is not needed at all,” MEA President Grace Leavitt said.
The Maine Education Association, a union that represents teachers, says the bill doesn't make sense because there's not a problem.
“I would invite any lawmakers to come and visit what's going on in our schools, we have great things going on in our classes,” Leavitt said.
Portland's superintendent is also against the bill.
He posted on social media:
"Portland public school teachers have a First Amendment guarantee and a professional obligation to teach controversial subjects without fear."
“It's simply a code of ethics, that gives them some guidelines,” Lockman said.
The bill has six co-sponsors in the legislature, all republicans, but Lockman says the bill itself is neutral.
“We can have robust political debates and discussions in the classroom, but the teacher needs to remain neutral and the teacher needs to leave whatever partisan political opinions they have at the school house door,” Lockman said.
The bill says because our country is divided over many issues, parents and taxpayers have a right to expect that taxpayer resources will be spent on education, not political or ideological indoctrination.
“And based on what I've heard from parents, it is spilling over into the classroom,” Lockman said.
There's a public hearing on the bill next Thursday in Augusta.
If you can't make it, you can also submit written testimony.