Lawmakers to consider restrictions on teaching about race

Legislation aimed at preventing students – including high school and college students – from being exposed to certain ideas about race and American history will be discussed this week at the Statehouse.

Bills have been filed in both the House and Senate to set parameters for teaching and learning about race, sex, religion and other potentially divisive topics. One of them, Senate Bill 167, is set for a hearing Wednesday morning before the Senate Education and Career Development Committee.

Indiana Statehouse

The first thing to know about these bills is that they aren’t original or unique to Indiana. They are part of a coordinated national campaign against so-called critical race theory, with similar versions having been filed or passed in dozens of states. The language is copied from an executive order by former President Donald Trump and from “model bills” promulgated by right-wing advocacy groups.

The second thing to know is that they are, at best, a solution in search of a problem. The folks pushing them seem to think Hoosier teachers are woke activists pushing a leftist agenda centered on identity politics. They aren’t. Teachers are like everyone else: some are liberal, some are conservative – some are very conservative – and many don’t care about politics.

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Indiana dean’s book recounts clash with state superintendent

Gerardo Gonzalez’s “A Cuban Refugee’s Journey to the American Dream” is an inspiring account of the transformative power of education and hard work. It tells the deeply personal story of how Gonzalez grew from a shy, bullied child to a successful scholar and university administrator.

Gonzalez, dean emeritus of the Indiana University School of Education, left Cuba with his family at age 11 and struggled as a Spanish-speaking immigrant in a strange land. An uninspired student, he enrolled in community college on a lark, fell in love with learning and went on to a stellar career.

In the book, he is generous with praise for the family, friends and mentors. Only two figures appear as adversaries: Fidel Castro and Tony Bennett.

Bennett, the Indiana superintendent of public instruction from 2009 to 2013, clashed with Gonzalez over a proposal called REPA, Rules for Educator Preparation and Accountability. The superintendent and his allies wanted to rewrite teacher certification requirements to require more college credits in subject areas like math and let some teachers become licensed without studying education.

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