INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana lawmakers have advanced a bill inspired by "critical race theory" debates. Parents who support the House bill hope senators give it a chance, even though they killed a “twin” bill earlier in the month after comments about Naziism.
"We didn't find a way forward for (Senate Bill) 167, and I don't know if we will on this one either,” said Senate President Rodrick Bray, “but the issues of parental engagement and transparency is important."
SB 167 died after the bill’s author said he wanted teachers to be neutral in class even when teaching about Naziism, which he opposed. House Bill 1134 is not identical, but both are a reaction to debates over CRT, social-emotional learning and diversity, equity, and inclusion programs in schools.
Dawn Lang of Fishers said all three of her children were enrolled in public schools. She supports the bill after noticing a decline in curriculum when her youngest started attending class. He’s a decade younger than her older children and she said with so much online, it’s hard to track what he’s getting in class.
“The ability to pull those resources and access those resources just became increasingly challenging,” she said.
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That’s why she supports a bill that would require more learning materials to be posted online.
She also thinks parents should be able to opt out of social-emotional learning exercises if they’d like. In the amended bill passed by the House, most SEL instruction will need parental consent, but lawmakers amended wording, so consent is not required in an "emergency" or if "the student is in immediate danger of experiencing abuse or neglect."
Lawmakers also specified that damages for violating the bill would be capped at $1,000.
Even with changes, teachers and the teachers' union still opposed the bill. They and communities of color worry it will limit classroom discussions on important issues, including racism.
"I don't see it as that restrictive,” Lang said.
But she does want politics out of classrooms and less of a focus on differences and cultural issues.