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Indiana Senate kills controversial school curriculum bill

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — An effort to restrict how Indiana teachers approach race and social justice issues came to an abrupt end Monday after the Senate did not take up the bill.

For more than a month, the measure dominated the discussion at the Statehouse. The original bill would have explicitly barred educators from teaching eight so-called “divisive concepts,” such as the idea that members of one race, religion or political ideology are inherently responsible for past injustices committed by members of that same group. It would have required school districts to have parent-led curriculum advisory committees and set up a grievance process for parents who believed their child’s school had violated any of the bill’s provisions. It passed out of the House on a party-line vote.

Senate Republicans rewrote the bill twice, narrowing the list of prohibited concepts and changing the curriculum advisory committee requirement to a prescription for how such bodies would function if a school district chose to institute them. Early Monday evening, the bill’s handler, Sen. Linda Rogers, a Republican from Granger, declined to bring it up for amendments on the Senate floor. Monday was the last day for the Senate to make floor amendments to House bills, so the bill died.

Speaking to reporters afterward, Rogers and Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray, a Republican from Martinsville, said members of their caucus could not come to an agreement.

“You had some folks that felt like it didn’t go far enough and some folks that felt like it was just difficult policy and not maybe the right policy to dictate what’s going on in schools,” Bray said, adding he personally would have voted for the bill.

Sen. Fady Qaddoura, a Democrat from Indianapolis, said the Senate had done the right thing. He said the bill sent a chilling effect to every school in Indiana.

“If we are serious about taking care of our kids, let’s work with our teachers,” he said. “Let’s work with our parents. We are all in for partnerships between parents and schools, but let’s not politicize this whole discussion.”

Bray said Republicans might add pieces of the bill to other legislation that has reached the conference committee stage. He said he was not prepared to specify which provisions might be added but Republicans would not try to graft the entire bill onto another piece of legislation, as has been floated for a bill to allow permitless concealed carry.