Senate amendment helps – but not enough

I’m all for giving credit where credit is due, and some credit is due today to Indiana Senate Republicans. They’ve offered an amendment to House Bill 1134 that would make a truly bad bill significantly less bad.

Sen. Linda Rogers, R-Granger, unveiled the amendment Tuesday afternoon. It’s expected to be considered when the Senate Education and Workforce Development meets at 1:30 p.m. today.

As approved by the House, HB 1134 would require teachers to post learning materials and lesson plans online for parents and others to review, and it would restrict teaching about “divisive concepts” related to race, gender and other topics.

The Senate amendment strikes the requirement that teachers post everything they plan to teach for parents to review and opt out of. Instead, schools would have to adopt a web-based learning management system: the widely used Canvas system, for example. Teachers would have to use the system, and parents would have access.

The amendment also gets rid of much of the divisive concepts language, including a ban on course materials that could make students feel shame or discomfort because of their race or other factors.

However, it still includes a ban on teaching materials that promote the idea that any sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin is inherently superior or inferior to any other – or that any individual is responsible for past deeds committed by members of their sex, race, etc.That sounds harmless enough, but I worry that parents and citizens who are up in arms about so-called critical race theory will use the bill’s language to lodge complaints over the teaching of honest history about race and other topics.

The amendment also gets rid of a requirement that schools establish parent-dominated curriculum committees to review and sign off on what teachers are teaching. Parents could ask a school board to establish such a committee, but it wouldn’t be required.

It’s clear that senators have been hearing the outpouring of opposition to HB 1134 – from teachers, parents and others. (That’s who really should get credit). The amendment makes the bill less awful, but I agree with the Indiana State Teachers Association, which says the amendment doesn’t go far enough.

“Even in improved form, HB 1134 still feeds divisiveness and the politicization of our public schools,” ISTA president Keith Gambill said in a statement.

Also, any changes made by the Senate would have to be approved by the House to become law. House sponsors of the bill may double down on keeping the original provisions, and they will be under pressure from their right-wing base to do so.

If we’re lucky, the House and Senate will deadlock, and the bill will die for this year. But we can’t count on that.

1 thought on “Senate amendment helps – but not enough

  1. Pingback: ‘People who hold $460,000 jobs don’t give them up’ | School Matters

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