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School curriculum bill faces uncertain future in Indiana Senate

INDIANAPOLIS — A bill regulating school curriculum faces an uncertain future as it heads to the Indiana Senate.

House Bill 1134 passed the Indiana House by a vote of 60 to 37, with nine Republicans joining all House Democrats in opposing the measure.

The bill would prohibit the teaching of certain concepts relating to race, gender and ethnicity, including those that may make students feel uncomfortable or feel guilty. This also requires putting some teaching materials online.

A similar proposal, Senate Bill 167, died in committee after the bill’s author, State Sen. Scott Baldwin (R-Noblesville), made controversial comments regarding the teaching of Nazism. .

“I don’t know where we’re going with this,” Senate Speaker Pro Tem Rod Bray (R-Martinsville) told reporters Thursday.

“We have not found any progress [Senate Bill] 167, and I don’t know if we’ll do it on this one either,” Bray said. “But parenting issues are important and, I think, valuable, and if we can take a fresh look at that, we have people who are interested in trying to look at it. They will do that.

Senate Minority Leader Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis) said he hopes Republicans will join Democrats in their efforts to block the bill.

“If it ever sees the light of day, that would be the most appropriate way in my opinion,” Taylor said. “We don’t need to get into a committee discussion, especially the education committee where we know we have so many different things going on with our education system.

During debates in the House, supporters of the bill argued that it guaranteed transparency and neutrality in schools.

Several Indiana House educators — from both parties — voted against the bill Wednesday night.

Many others in education have also expressed concern.

“It’s going to burden my lesson planning to the detriment of some who might say I made their child uncomfortable because I’m teaching the truth about history,” said Randy Harrison, teacher of the government at Anderson High School. who leads his local teachers’ union.

“I am concerned that HB 1134 prohibits or even excuses educators from engaging in anti-racist pedagogy or critical conversations about race,” said Erica Buchanan-Rivera, director of equity and inclusion for schools in the Washington Township.

Some education groups say they support parent engagement, but are concerned about the potential impact the bill could have on school staff if it becomes law.

“When you put parameters around teachers, that you don’t trust them, that schools might be sued, that teachers might lose their license, that means teaching is going to stagnate,” said David Marcotte, executive director of the Indiana Urban Schools Association.

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