Days of the living dead

This is the season of the zombie bills, the bad bills that refuse to die. You think you’ve driven a stake through their heart, but they rise and keep coming. Or so it seems.

For example, House Bill 1134, Indiana Republicans’ response to the phony outrage over schools teaching “critical race theory,” faced overwhelming public opposition. It was supposedly dead after the Senate failed to approve it by a deadline. Then it wasn’t: Legislative leaders said they would revive parts of the bill. Then it was dead again when they couldn’t agree on how to do that. But will it stay dead?

We won’t know until the session is adjourned.

As approved by the House, HB 1134 would have banned teaching about certain “divisive concepts,” required teachers to post lesson plans online, let parents sue over supposed violations, and so on. A Senate committee removed some of the worst provisions; but the Senate Republican caucus, after an apparently contentious closed-door meeting, let the bill die.

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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.

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Opposition to HB 1134 is strong and diverse

UPDATE: Senate Republicans are offering an amendment to HB 1134, which will be discussed in the committee meeting Wednesday. Some details are here.

House Bill 1134 was supposed to divide us. It was designed to pit parents against teachers, white people against people of color, city folks against Indiana’s rural population. It looks like it may be having the opposite effect.

We’re seeing strong and unified opposition to the bill, which would restrict what teachers can say about “divisive concepts” like race and force them to post lessons online so parents can opt out.

Indiana Statehouse

Opposition is coming from teachers’ organizations across the state, with the Indiana State Teachers Association calling on members to pack the Statehouse this week to stop HB 1134.

It’s coming from individual teachers, who warn that the bill could lead to a mass exodus of educators, who simply can’t do their job well under the restrictions it would impose.

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Nazi or not, bill is still bad

Update: The House approved HB 1134 Jan. 26 by a vote of 60-37, sending it to the Senate. The previous day, the House amended the bill to remove references to higher education. Restrictions on K-12 schools and teachers remain.

The supposed denazification of Indiana House Bill 1134 didn’t make it better. It’s still an ill-advised bill that will tie the hands of teachers and prevent students from learning American history in all its complexity.

The Senate version of the bill, SB 167, ran into trouble when its lead author, Sen. Scott Baldwin, R-Noblesville, suggested teachers should be neutral when they teach about Nazi Germany. Baldwin tried to walk back the comment, but too late to avoid being mocked on late-night TV by Stephen Colbert.

That was apparently too much for Senate President Pro Tem Rod Bray, R-Martinsville, who put the kibosh on the bill. But HB 1134 is still alive. Its author, Rep. Tony Cook, R-Cicero, has said he will bring it to the House floor for second reading and amendments, possibly today.

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