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Gov. Holcomb signals support for watered-down school curriculum bill

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A Senate panel on Wednesday approved new school curriculum restrictions as Gov. Eric Holcomb signaled he might sign the bill.

Senate Republicans have rewritten the bill twice since it arrived from the House last month.

In its current form, the measure lists three concepts that educators may not teach in the classroom, rather than the eight the original bill stipulated.

Teachers would not be able to teach that members of any race, ethnicity, religion or political ideology are inherently superior or inferior, that they should receive preferential treatment or that they are responsible for past injustices committed by members of their group. The bill also spells out a procedure for parents to file grievances and take part in curriculum review committees but does not require such committees.

Educators have called the bill an “attack on their profession” and Senate Democrats echoed those concerns on Wednesday.

Sen. Fady Qaddoura, D-Indianapolis, says the bill addresses a problem that doesn’t exist and is written for the benefit of a handful of people with political aspirations. Qaddoura, who was born and raised in Palestine, said the measure is based on the assumption that people already are treated equally in Indiana.

“The unfortunate reality is that we have people in our society, in Indiana, including myself, who went through personal experiences, and hundreds of thousands of people, who are not treated equally,” Qaddoura said.

Ahead of Wednesday’s hearing. Gov. Eric Holcomb signaled he might sign the bill if it reaches his desk.

“Anything that encourages parental engagement in the education of their students and our state’s future is a good thing,” Holcomb said. “However, I will be watching every word, every day until we run through the tape.”

The full Senate still has to vote on the bill, something that has to happen by the end of session on Tuesday. If it passes, House Republicans already say they plan to send the bill to a conference committee to work out the chambers’ differences.