INDIANAPOLIS – A bill regulating school curriculum faces an uncertain future as it heads to the Indiana Senate.
House Bill 1134 passed the Indiana House on a 60-37 vote, with nine Republicans joining all House Democrats to oppose the measure.
The bill would ban the teaching of certain concepts regarding race, gender and ethnicity, including those that may make students feel discomfort or guilt. It also requires some classroom materials to be posted online.
“I don’t know where we’ll go with it,” Senate President Pro Tem Rod Bray (R-Martinsville) told reporters Thursday.
“We didn’t find a way forward on [Senate Bill] 167, and I don’t know that we will on this one, either,” Bray said. “But the issues of parental engagement are important and, I think, valuable, and if we can take a fresh look at this, we’ve got some people that are interested in trying to look at it. They’re going to do that.”
Senate Minority Leader Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis) said he hopes Republicans will join Democrats in their efforts to block the bill.
“If it never sees the light of day, that would be the most appropriate way in my opinion,” Taylor said. “We don’t need to get into a discussion during committee, especially education committee where we know we have so many different things going on with our education system.”
During debates in the House, supporters of the bill argued it ensures transparency and neutrality in schools.
Several educators in the Indiana House – from both parties – voted against the bill Wednesday night.
Many others in education have also voiced concern.
“It’s going to put an extra burden on my lesson planning at the cost of a few who may say I’ve made their child uncomfortable because I’m teaching the truth about history,” said Randy Harrison, a government teacher at Anderson High School who runs his local teachers’ union.
“I’m concerned that HB 1134 will prohibit or even excuse educators from engaging in anti-racist pedagogy or critical conversations about race,” said Erica Buchanan-Rivera, director of equity and inclusion for Washington Township Schools.
Some education groups say they support parent engagement but worry about the potential impact the bill could have on school staffing if it becomes law.
“When you’re putting parameters around teachers, that you you don’t trust them, that the schools could be sued, teachers could lose their licenses, it means that instruction is going to be stagnant,” said David Marcotte, executive director of the Indiana Urban Schools Association.