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Indiana House committee changes, approves controversial school curriculum bill

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Jeanie Lindsay
/
IPB News
Lawmakers also removed lesson plans from the list of materials schools would be required to post online under the bill, as the committee made changes to HB 1134.

Listen to the radio version of this story as it aired on Indiana Public Broadcasting Stations.

A controversial school curriculum and parent transparency bill advanced in the Indiana House Wednesday.

House Bill 1134 increases parents' authority over school content and would limit how teachers talk about things like race, religion and politics in their classrooms. 

The House Education Committee made minor changes before voting on it – like adding a line to ensure that teachers can talk about "ideals and values that conflict with the Constitution of the United States."

Or, as bill author Rep. Tony Cook (R-Cicero) said: "Clarifies that schools can and should teach that Nazism is bad."

That particular change comes after Sen. Scott Baldwin (R-Noblesville) made national headlines for his comments during a nearly eight hour hearing on a similar bill, urging neutrality from teachers as they talk about things like Marxism and Nazism. He has since walked back those remarks.

READ MORE: Indiana bill to limit conversations on race, politics in schools receives mixed opposition

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But opponents to the legislation have laid out several other concerns with the bill's timing and focus, as well as the requirements it lays out for teachers and schools to follow.

The House committee's changes to HB 1134 address some of those concerns. 

A committee amendment removed language that would prohibit teachers from including instruction on eight specific concepts, leaving the bill to only prohibit the promotion of those concepts. The bill now also specifies more about the role of parents on the curriculum advisory committees it seeks to create, and sets parameters on the amount of time students or parents have to file official complaints if teachers violate the legislation if it becomes law.

The bill now also includes language so it applies to Muncie Community Schools – which is overseen by Ball State University – and adds to the state's definition of "good citizenship instruction," among other changes. 

All of the Democrats on the committee – as well as Republican Rep. Ed Clere (R-New Albany) – voted against the bill. But it now goes to the full House for consideration, after the other eight Republicans on the committee voted yes. 

A Senate committee planned to vote on its version of the bill Wednesday afternoon, but it was removed from the agenda to provide lawmakers more time to consider the bill.

Contact reporter Jeanie at jlindsa@iu.edu or follow her on Twitter at @jeanjeanielindz.

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