School curriculum bill heads to Indiana House floor, Senate’s version dies

IN Focus: Indiana Politics

UPDATE:

State Sen. Bray announced Friday that Senate Bill 167 is dead, saying “members of the Senate continued to work on Senate Bill 167 but have determined there is no path forward for it and it will not be considered.”

ORIGINAL STORY:

INDIANAPOLIS – A bill that would ban the teaching of certain concepts in Indiana schools is on its way to the House floor.

House Bill 1134 passed the House education committee Wednesday morning, mostly along party lines. State Rep. Ed Clere (R-New Albany) was the only Republican to vote against the bill with the committee’s Democrats.

The proposal is very similar to Senate Bill 167, which was discussed last week in the Senate education committee. Lawmakers pulled the bill off the schedule for Wednesday’s committee meeting.

Lawmakers heard hours of testimony on both in recent days.

“I was a U.S. history teacher,” said State Rep. Tony Cook (R-Cicero), the author of the House bill. “I taught them with facts. Facts is different than theory. And that’s where I’m going with this. Teach the facts. The facts will talk to students.”

The bill would ban the teaching of some concepts, including “that any sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, national origin, or political affiliation is inherently superior or inferior to another sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, national origin, or political affiliation.”

It would also prohibit schools from teaching students “that any individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, responsibility, or any other form of psychological distress on account of the individual’s sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, national origin, or political affiliation.”

The bill would permit lawsuits to be filed against districts believed to be in violation of the law. The House bill would also allow a teacher’s license to be suspended or revoked.

“There’s never a point where teachers can get through the day feeling like they can exhale and got through a day without a violation,” said John O’Neal of the Indiana State Teachers Association.

Cook added an amendment, which was approved, creating a 30-business-day statute of limitations on complaints of possible violations.

The amendment also allows for the teaching of historical injustices against “ideals or values that conflict with the Constitution of the United States.”

State Rep. Vernon Smith, also an educator, said he believes that protection does not go far enough, adding he worries the legislation could discourage lessons on topics like racism.

“When we start talking about racism that’s part of our country’s fabric, you may not want to really discuss all the ills of it,” Smith said.

As for the Senate version of the bill, it’s come with its own controversy after State Sen. Scott Baldwin (R-Noblesville) made a comment regarding Nazism. He said teachers should not specify that Nazism, among “other -isms,” was inherently bad, saying, “We need to be impartial.”

Baldwin later apologized for his remarks, saying in a statement, in part: “I agree teachers should condemn those dangerous ideologies and I sincerely regret that I did not articulate that and apologize for it.”

Senate President Pro Tempore Rodric Bray (R-Martinsville) told reporters Tuesday night the bill was pulled off the Senate education committee’s schedule for Wednesday so lawmakers could work on it.

“Humanity can be really rough and sometimes really, really bad to other folks … and so that’s something that needs to be taught in a way that children understand that,” Bray said.

It’s unknown when the committee could try to advance that bill, Bray said.

Copyright 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Most Popular

Latest News

More News