Session could have been worse for education

The 2022 session of the Indiana General Assembly produced plenty of bad news, but at least there’s this: When it comes to education, it could have been worse. Much worse.

Republican legislators failed in their all-out effort to ban the teaching of what they misleadingly call “critical race theory” in schools. They also fell short in their efforts to politicize school board elections, encourage book-banning, and make public schools share funding with charter schools.

Indiana Statehouse
Indiana Statehouse

Their one truly harmful action regarding schools was the approval of House Bill 1041, which prohibits transgender girls from playing girls’ sports. This cruel legislation was designed for one purpose only: to toss a bone to the GOP’s right wing. Maybe – hopefully — Gov. Eric Holcomb will veto it.

Other than that, Republicans wasted people’s time and energy with lots of sound and fury about education, but it ultimately signified almost nothing.

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Virginia means more CRT debate

Last week’s Virginia gubernatorial election pretty much guarantees that some Indiana Republicans will spend the 2022 legislative session posturing on so-called critical race theory and related issues.

They probably would have anyway. Hoosier legislators reportedly have been drafting bills to regulate what schools teach about race and promote transparency about K-12 curriculum, an echo of the “parents’ bill of rights” that state Attorney General Todd Rokita released in June.

Then came Virginia, where Republican Glenn Youngkin won the governor’s race after vowing to ban critical race theory and tapping into frustrations over COVID-related school closings and other topics. Republicans are pointing to that election, in a state that Joe Biden won by 10 points, to argue the party should lean into the culture war to win back the suburbs and win elections.

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