Indiana parents are outraged at the rampant indoctrination in their children’s K-12 classrooms, but instead of listening to their voters’ concerns, the Republican-controlled state government is buckling at the knees to appease teachers unions.
In a classic bait and switch, GOP senators in the Hoosier state passed an amendment last week that gutted a bill intended to prevent teachers from promoting critical race theory and other radical ideologies in Indiana classrooms and replaced it with broad language and policy statements that hardly give parents any footing to take action.
There are plenty of examples of the Indiana Department of Education, school systems, teachers, and other staff abusing their influence to push racist, political, and inappropriate materials on students. That’s why many Hoosiers were thrilled when Republicans introduced HB1134, which was designed to offer more transparency and autonomy to concerned parents.
The House version of HB1134 contained weighty provisions that afforded parents fighting racist curriculum and legal standing to pursue a right to private action against schools that did not teach impartially. While parents still wouldn’t be privy to all lesson plans that might contain CRT and other problematic curricula, a provision parents in the state sought, they would have access to other class materials online.
The House bill also would have prohibited schools from exposing students to sexually explicit materials, stopped schools from forcing students and staff to support political statements they disagree with, allowed parents to join curriculum committees for oversight, and stopped schools from spending taxpayer money on radical learning materials. Those provisions, however, are no longer in the bill after Indiana Republicans nuked them.
All Bark, No Bite
Republican Sen. Linda Rogers, who proposed the amendment, claimed the gutted bill would still “rein” in teachers who have “crossed the line,” but the new version completely lacks the teeth required to enforce any such action. Even her statement introducing the changes acknowledges most of them were made to give ground back to anti-parent public school lobbies.
The Senate amended version of HB1134 not only strips parents’ ability to pursue action against schools that teach racism but also severely limits parents’ involvement in inspecting potentially problematic curricula.
“The only thing a parent can do in this bill now is file a complaint with the school or the Indiana Department of Education, which they can already do and many parents have done,” Micah Clark, executive director of the American Family Association of Indiana, told The Federalist. “They’ve gone to school boards, they have complained about this, but they’ve gotten nowhere.”
The new version of the bill also modifies the state’s requirements for one-on-one counseling by allowing school employees, some of who could be unlicensed officials, to advise students on “mental, social-emotional, or psychological health issues” without parental permission as long as the issue is not classified as “ongoing or recurring.” The parameters for this kind of counseling are broad and undefined, leaving the door open for radical gender transition encouragement to be given without any parent knowledge. Any counseling that the school deems ongoing could continue if parents don’t respond to a request for consent within seven days.
“When you do have a kid with a problem, you need to bring the parents in, and you need to talk openly with them and find out what the problem is,” Paige Miller, a parent, retired Hamilton County schoolteacher, and the Hamilton County Chapter of Moms for Liberty, told The Federalist. “…But they don’t need to be pushed out when the kids aren’t part of their education, which is what we’re seeing.”
Only one Republican committee member, Sen. Dennis Kruse, voted against adopting the amendment while his GOP colleagues and even Democrats who repeatedly claimed CRT isn’t taught in schools voted for the reportedly anti-CRT amendment.
Teachers Unions Are The Culprit
Republicans in the state Senate voted to water down the anti-CRT legislation and remove most of the safeguards desired by parents vying for educational transparency in Indiana after months of pressure from teachers unions and other special interests seeking to keep their grip on public education. Indiana House Speaker Todd Huston recently resigned from a job with College Board, which is known for saturating its curricula and tests with racialized and other identity politics, after accusations of conflicts of interest with HB 1134. College Board paid him $460,000 a year.
The decision came shortly after a Senate hearing flooded by Indiana State Teachers Association activists who lobbied against HB 1134 and urged lawmakers to give up on allowing parents more authority over their child’s learning.
At least 200 people signaled their intent to offer comments either for or against the bill but only a handful of them actually testified. Tim Hart, a former educator and now father who is frustrated with the radical indoctrination happening in his kids’ schools, tried to testify in favor of the original bill but left the Wednesday hearing feeling silenced and betrayed.
“We should have been able to get this passed with some actual teeth to give parents a tool other than having to wait two years for the next school board election to pop up before they can protect their child from being taught that they are racist because of the color of their skin,” he told The Federalist.
Instead, GOP legislators pandered to win over the approval of public school employees who remain unimpressed and have urged legislators to vote against the final bill which they claim “feeds divisiveness and the politicization of our public schools.”
Parents Feel Betrayed
What started as a strong push to back up the national pro-parent push to retake education is wrapping up as yet another flimsy effort by spineless Republicans to appeal to the wrong crowd and compromise on the things that matter to their voters most.
“I think [the bill is] really just a policy statement for schools that don’t want to teach CRT and they can point to this and say look, it’s in the law. We shouldn’t do this,” Clark said. “But the flip side is any school that bought into all this wokeism that wants to push it, this isn’t going to stop them. So I think the problem for the Republicans, particularly in the Senate, is they’re going to pass this and they’re gonna claim they did something. It’s an election year. And come this fall parents are gonna be furious when they realize it didn’t do anything.”
Whether legislators decide to pass the gutted HB 1134, restore some of the discarded elements, or spike it all together, parents lose, the public school lobby wins, and legislators will face consequences at the polls.
“This is absolutely is impacting my opinion on my state representative, who I’ll be voting for or who I’ll be voting against in the future,” Hart said. “I will absolutely be holding them accountable for having absolutely no spine and what should be a very clear-cut opportunity to stop anyone from teaching racist ideology in the classroom of any kind.”