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Indiana senators remove provisions from school curriculum bill

INDIANAPOLIS — Lawmakers on the Indiana Senate Education Committee heard testimony from dozens of Hoosiers on Wednesday after amending a bill that would regulate the school curriculum.

House Bill 1134 would restrict what is taught in schools regarding race, gender and ethnicity.

According to State Sen. Jeff Raatz (R-Richmond), who chairs the Senate Education Committee, more than 200 people have requested to testify about the school curriculum bill at the Statehouse.

Raatz gave about two hours of testimony, so not everyone got a chance to speak. About 91% of those who have signed up to testify oppose the bill, he said.

“My goal was to get teachers and parents working together,” said State Sen. Linda Rogers (R-Granger), sponsor of the Senate bill.

Rogers introduced an amendment that removes several elements from the previous version of the legislation.

The bill no longer allows parents to remove their children from certain lessons or sue school districts for potential violations. Instead, complaints could go to the Indiana Department of Education if not resolved by the school district.

Rogers has also removed the requirement that school materials must be posted online, instead allowing parents to access their child’s online learning portal.

Schools would also no longer be prohibited from teaching subjects that make students feel guilty or embarrassed.

“There are things in life that make you feel uncomfortable, so how do you regulate that?” Rogers explained.

Also included in the bill: a prohibition against teaching that one race, gender or ethnicity is inherently superior or inferior to another. And the new version clarifies that schools can teach about “historical injustices”.

Teachers say the amendment is an improvement but remain largely opposed to the bill.

“It’s built on a premise that’s going to cause friction or set it up for friction between teachers and parents,” said Jennifer Smith-Margraf, vice president of the Indiana State Teachers Association.

In the meantime, some parents who supported the measure say they still hope to see it pass despite the changes made.

“There’s a huge communication disconnect between schools and parents, and it’s been so divisive that we’ve had to elevate it to the state level to resolve it,” Fishers’ Dawn Lang said.

Lawmakers opted not to vote on the bill at Wednesday’s meeting. If the bill passes the committee next week, it will go to the Senate.

There will likely be additional changes made to the bill, Rogers said.

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