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Indiana legislators debate controversial education bill

Indiana legislators debate controversial education bill
Indiana legislators debate controversial education bill(iga.in.gov)
Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 7:54 PM EST
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Senate Bill 167 and House Bill 1134 propose several changes to Indiana’s education system.

One part of the proposed bills, as it is currently written, would require teachers to post a full year of lesson plans online before the school year.

Mark Lichtenberg, the UniServ director with the Indiana State Teacher’s Association, says this is problematic.

“The burden on a veteran teacher of 25 years who has a wealth of experience and materials is already great,” Lichtenberg said. “I can’t imagine being a new teacher coming into my first year and having to have a full year’s worth of materials uploaded before I start my first day.”

Lichtenberg says this particular issue may be amended.

Legislators want lesson plans posted in advance so parents have time for their students to potentially opt-out of certain course material.

Lichtenberg says there are other proposals in the bill that raise concern for teachers.

“The bill says that everything needs to be presented from a neutral perspective, and last week when the senate bill was being heard, the author of the bill indicated that something even as appalling as Nazism would have to be presented from a neutral position,” Lichtenberg said. “The teacher could not say Nazism is a bad thing.”

In a Senate hearing last Wednesday, Senator Scott Baldwin, one of three authors of the Senate bill, responded to a Fishers, Ind. teacher when asked about staying impartial on Nazism.

“I’m not discrediting as a person Nazism, Marxism, fascism — I’m not discrediting any of those ‘isms’ out there,” Baldwin said. “I have no problem with the education system providing instruction on the existence of those ‘isms.’ I believe we’ve gone too far when we take a position on those ‘isms’.”

Baldwin went on to say that while he doesn’t personally believe in the teachings of those ‘isms’ he does think it’s up to each student to formulate their own opinions, and this bill will help them do that.

“I’m not sure it’s bright for us to determine how that child should think, and that’s where I’m trying to provide the guardrails,” Baldwin said.

Lichtenberg works with teachers from seven local school districts.

“Every school employee group, whether it be an administrator or teacher-based employee group, they’re all against this bill,” Lichtenberg said.

The two bills detail other provisions, that if approved, would require school districts to create community groups for feedback on the curriculum.

Senators pulled their bill Wednesday to allow time for amendments to be made before a vote.

The House bill passed its committee by an 8-5 vote.

14 News reached out to the two other authors of the Senate bill, Senator Jeff Raatz and Senator Travis Holdman, for comment, but have not heard back.

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