INDIANAPOLIS (WANE) – A Fort Wayne Community Schools (FWCS) teacher testified on the Indiana house bill that could alter teacher curriculum.
House Bill 1134 is sparking conversation and gaining national attention. If this bill passes it would restrict what public school teachers could teach. Supporters believe the bill is not strong enough to allow transparency for parents to know what their children are being taught in the classroom. Opponents believe the bill would prohibit certain historical facts.
“We have seen the kind of damage that can happen when people are allowed to remove history from being taught,” said FWCS teacher Michael Henry during his testimony at the statehouse.
If passed, the bill could prevent educators from teaching certain concepts related to race, gender and ethnicity. Parents who disagree with what’s on the curriculum can opt their child out of those activities and lessons.
“To opt a child out of that curriculum is in itself indoctrination. That is being done and politicized by the parents. That’s not the school politicizing it,” Henry said.
Henry is one of many educators opposed to the bill and protesting against it. The loud cries from teachers across the state fell on the ears of former educator, parent and State Senator Linda Rogers (R- Granger) who proposed an amendment to address teachers’ concerns.
“Collaboration, not combat,” is what Sen. Rogers said is needed to provide the best education to students in the Hoosier state. After listening to educators, she proposed amendment 20.
“We want to ensure that we’re not setting policy that will make it difficult for your local community,” Rogers said.
The amendment was proposed Tuesday and approved during Wednesday’s Senate Education and Career Development Committee.
Key provisions in Rogers’ amendment are as follows:
- It removes the requirement for educators to post a list of learning materials and instead provides transparency by ensuring parents have access to their school’s learning management system and allowing parents to review any other learning materials used in their child’s classroom upon request.
- It does not require school districts to have curriculum advisory committees, but creates a pathway for parents to request a school board to adopt one.
- It removes the current proscriptive complaint process in HB 1134 and requires school districts to adopt their own procedures for handling complaints about curriculum.
- It removes language about lawsuits for violations of the bill, and instead allows parents to appeal to the Indiana Department of Education to take administrative action for a violation if they remain unsatisfied after following the school’s grievance process.
- It removes the sections about “material harmful to minors” and “sexually explicit materials,” since much of the same language is included in Senate Bill 17.
- It removes language requiring schools to be impartial in teaching about historical events.
- It streamlines the list of “divisive concepts” that schools may not teach to three specific concepts that stereotype people based on sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color and national origin. With the amendment, schools could not teach that:
- One group is inherently superior or inferior to another;
- One group should be treated adversely or preferentially; and
- Individuals, by virtue of their traits, are inherently responsible for the past actions of others who share their traits.
- It explicitly states nothing in the chapter shall be construed to exclude the teaching or discussion of factual history or historical injustices committed against any sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color or national origin.
- It shortens the window of time that schools must wait for parental response before beginning ongoing, nonemergency mental health services for a student. Under the amendment, parents would have seven days to opt their child out of the services if the parents are contacted electronically. In all instances, parents would receive two separate notices giving them the chance to opt their child out of services if the parents disagree with the school’s decision, and the parents would continue to have the ability to end services after they have started.
- It adds language stipulating parental notice requirements do not apply to daily interactions between school staff and students.
- It specifies parental notice isn’t needed to provide services in a crisis situation when a student is in immediate danger of harming themselves or others, or when a student is immediate danger of abuse or neglect.
Testimony on the bill will continue Thursday.