Reaction to the passing of the controversial House Bill 1134 which impacts what teachers can discuss in class

Indiana House balcony, Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Casey Smith)
Indiana House balcony, Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Casey Smith)(AP)
Published: Jan. 27, 2022 at 5:14 PM EST
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA) - One House proposal approved Wednesday is now headed to the senate. It would require classroom materials to be posted online and vetted by parent review committees and restrict teaching about racism and politics. Another bill that advanced to the senate would remove educational purposes as a reason that public schools and libraries could claim legal protection for sharing “harmful material” with minors.

ABC21 spoke with the director of the school of education for Purdue University Fort Wayne, Isabel Nuñez, for reaction to the bill’s passing in the house.

She says, “I am really saddened to hear that this bill has passed the house. Mostly because I’m so concerned the teachers here in Indiana. It has been really challenging to teach during a pandemic.” She added, “Teachers teach to the standards, right? And to add to another thing that’s going to make that work more difficult makes me sad. We are dealing with a tremendous teacher shortage in the state of Indiana. We just passed three transition to teaching programs to try and help address the shortage but this, if this bill passes the Senate is going to make it much worse.”

Much of the concern stems from critical race theory which is a college-level academic framework that originated in law schools 40 years ago. This is not typically taught in K-12 schools but has still become a campaign talking point for conservative politicians and candidates.

The president of the Fort Wayne Education Association sent us the following statement:

“There was so much opposition to this bill that the phone system at the statehouse was overwhelmed, and there were over 48,000 emails in opposition to HB 1134 (which is a record high). It is interesting that, with so much opposition, this bill is still moving forward. The senate version was withdrawn after Senator Baldwin’s remarks about how teachers should remain neutral about Nazism got national (and international) attention (the Late Show with Stephen Colbert did a segment on it). Senator Baldwin’s remarks came during testimony against the senate version of this bill (a teacher was trying to explain how he couldn’t be neutral when teaching about Nazism and the Holocaust). This bill (in both the House and Senate versions) is very Orwellian and off-the-charts crazy. It would be funny if it wasn’t so scary.

RELATED STORY: Indiana lawmakers advance bill targeting K-12 curriculum

Statements on Passing of HB 1134 from State Reps. Martin Carbaugh & Dave Heine can be found below:

“We’ve heard parents loud and clear. They want to know what’s being taught in their child’s classroom and they deserve to know. This legislation, as it stands currently, empowers parents by ensuring they have more insight and input into curriculum materials, and surveys being used in schools. This bill also makes it clear that there is no place in Indiana classrooms for divisive theories to be taught,” said State Rep. Martin Carbaugh.

“This legislation gives parents more opportunities to be informed and involved with their child’s education while prohibiting divisive concepts in the classroom. Under the bill, parents would be able to access an online portal to view all curriculum and educational activities happening in their child’s school. Schools would also re-establish curricular material advisory committees, where members of the public, educators and community members, would review and make recommendations on curriculum materials. Our ultimate goal is to increase transparency, and encourage more parent and community involvement in our K-12 schools,” said State Rep. Dave Heine.

The House approved the legislation 60 to 37 and it now heads to the Senate.

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