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Republican Indiana lawmakers want parents to overhaul school curriculum


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After contentious school council meetings across Indiana on Critical Race Theory, leading Republican lawmakers have said they will propose allowing parents to have more say in what their children learn in schools.

Critical breed theory migrated from a little-known academic setting, which examines how policies and law perpetuate systemic racism, to a political touchstone for Republicans nationwide. He moderated a debate on how schools teach the role of race in this country.

Republicans in Indiana are drafting several education bills for the 2022 legislative session in response to these controversies, without specifically mentioning Critical Race Theory.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb and several lawmakers on both sides of the aisle told a legislative conference Wednesday that they did not believe Critical Race Theory, or CRT, to be taught in K-12 schools across the country. Indiana.

“CRT is not part of our state’s standards,” Holcomb told reporters. “If critical race theory is taught in the classroom in our K-12 system, it is against the norms, and the local school and parents need to hold those responsible to account. “

Yet the House education leader Bob behning said the next legislative session, which begins in January, will include a bill inspired by the critical controversy over racial theory that focuses on “transparency.” He suggested requiring districts to form “program monitoring committees”, groups of parents, community members and educators who would review the program, class materials or library books and would advise principals to change areas with which they disagree.

Each public school district would be required to create a curriculum advisory committee, made up of 40% parents, 20% members of the public and 40% educators, Behning said. Each committee should meet at least twice a year. Committee recommendations would not become binding without school board approval.

Behning, a Republican from Indianapolis, said earlier laws allowed districts to create similar committees to review the program, but they have expired.

“We have had situations in Carmel where parents read [aloud] books in their school board meetings that contained obscene language, ”Behning said. “The board members were offended, but the parents said, ‘Well, that’s what my kids have access to. “

But Democrats have raised concerns about the soon to be proposed legislation. Senate Minority Leader Greg Taylor said the law, under cover of transparency, would allow parents to prevent their children from learning about race.

“We know we need to have an open dialogue about the history of this country,” Taylor said. “All Critical Race Theory says is, ‘Hey, we’ve been trying this colorblind thing for a long, long time; it does not work. So let’s consciously inject racing into the program, and hopefully that will lead to a better result for everyone. ‘ “

Also in response to controversial school board meetings, Republicans are drafting a bill that could reshape school boards, which are currently formed through non-partisan elections. Behning said his colleagues are considering a bill that would allow school board members or candidates to choose whether or not to disclose their political affiliation.

They can also “tighten up” public consultation procedures at school board meetings. Public comment sessions have become more heated in several districts of Indiana over the past year, often because of critical debates over racial theory.

He also mentioned legislation that would create a procedure to discipline teachers who promote certain theories in the classroom, although he said promotion is not an issue with most teachers, and it is not. clear what would be considered a promotion and how teachers would be monitored, reported, or disciplined.

Schools have recently been grappling with controversies over the display of Black Lives Matter signs or LGBT pride flags in classrooms could be seen as promoting political ideologies.

“The overwhelming majority of teachers don’t try to promote one theory over another,” Behning said. “I believe children should also understand authoritarian, totalitarian Marxism to some extent, but certainly not promoting that. So there will be a language dealing with promotion.

Republicans and Democrats agreed on many aspects of the CRT debate in a Wednesday afternoon session at the conference. Taylor and Pro Senate Republican Chairman Tem Rodric Bray both agreed that CRT should not be taught in K-12 schools. They also agreed that teaching more about different cultures in K-12 grades would benefit all students, regardless of race.

Chalkbeat is a non-profit news site covering educational change in public schools.

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