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Indiana Senate Bill Sparks Curriculum Debate | Archive

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana lawmakers began debate on Wednesday on a Republican-backed bill that would require all school curriculums to be posted online for parental review and ban schools’ ability to implement concepts such as critical race theory.

The proposal, which the author of the Republican bill, Senator Scott Baldwin, says aims to prevent the teaching of certain “discriminatory concepts” in classrooms, prompted an entire day of testimony back and forth before the Senate Education Committee from school advocates, teachers and parents. .

The first Senate bill prohibits K-12 schools from requiring a student or employee “to engage in training, guidance, or therapy that presents any form of racial or gender stereotyping or blame on the basis of gender, race, ethnicity, religion, color, national origin or political affiliation”. Teachers would also not be permitted to “include or promote” such concepts within the framework of their program.

The bill does not explicitly refer to critical race theory, which has become a catch-all term for the idea that racism is systemic in the nation’s institutions and that they function to maintain the dominance of Whites in society.

Instead, he says schools cannot teach “that every individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, responsibility or any other form of psychological distress” because of what Baldwin called “the eight specific division concepts” described in the text of the bill. .

Baldwin said a key aspect of the bill requires transparency for parents by requiring all curriculum to be posted online and creating curriculum committees with parents to approve school materials. However, he questioned whether posting the curriculum online was too burdensome for teachers and said he was open to changing this language.

Bob Taylor, executive director of the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents, echoed testimony from many educators on Wednesday that requiring the publication of syllabuses or lesson plans, rather than complete lesson plans, would be less punitive and burdensome. for individual teachers.

According to the legislation, parental consent would also be required for ongoing mental, social and emotional services to students, except in a crisis or emergency.

If schools break the law, the bill allows parents to take legal action against the school corporation.

Baldwin claimed on Wednesday that the bill was drafted in a different format before the 2021 legislative session, and pointed out that he had heard “many complaints” from voters about “diversifying” concepts taught in Indiana schools.

He further insisted that nothing in the bill was intended to prevent the teaching of “historical facts”.

“Teaching factual subjects, past or present, good or bad, is not a subject of this bill,” he said. “We are creating new language in the Indiana code to make it abundantly clear that these are discriminating concepts that Indiana schools don’t believe in.”

Gail Zeheralis, director of government relations for the Indiana State Teachers Association, said the bill will have a negative effect on teachers, making them feel “constrained” by what they will be allowed to teach, and already adding “frustrating” workloads.

“The bill comes at a time of tremendous stress in our schools, at a time when teachers and staff have left no stone unturned to put in place an educational program to meet children where they are, in person and remotely,” Zeheralis mentioned. “It will harm children’s learning and growth abilities, both in terms of understanding the world and developing their own critical thinking skills.”

Two similar bills introduced in the House would additionally require schools to publicly post learning materials and educational activities online.

Bill requires students to learn that concepts such as ‘socialism, Marxism, communism, totalitarianism, or similar political systems’ are ‘inconsistent with the concepts of freedom on which the United States was founded’ , from sixth to twelfth grade.

The legislation also allows parents to remove their students from face mask or vaccine requirements, and states that schools cannot require vaccination against COVID-19 or another communicable disease “as a condition of employment, d registration, attendance or participation in a school society. or a qualified school or in a school extracurricular activity.

Another bill, which also requires schools to post school materials online and dictates what can and cannot be taught in classrooms, will be heard by the House Education Committee on Monday.

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