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Senate leader says school curriculum bill’s chances ‘don’t look good’

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Legislative leaders on Thursday indicated there’s too much disagreement between the two chambers on what to do with a stalled school curriculum bill.

House Speaker Todd Huston, a Republican from Fishers, told reporters members of his caucus are unlikely to accept any version of the bill that doesn’t include most or all of the language his chamber originally passed. Shortly afterward, his Senate counterpart, President Pro Tem Rodric Bray, a Republican from Martinsville, said under those circumstances, “the bill’s chances don’t look good.”

House Bill 1134 would prohibit educators from teaching certain social justice concepts and would add regulations concerning school mental health resources. The bill’s sponsors have said they want to ensure students are taught a factual version of American history devoid of any political agenda. The measure has drawn strong opposition from education groups and many parents.

The bill died in the Senate on Monday after Senate Republicans could not come to an agreement on the bill’s language. Bray told reporters at the time lawmakers would look for other bills in conference committees that could carry elements of House Bill 1134. On Thursday morning, a group of education advocates gathered at the Statehouse to urge lawmakers not to do this. Carolina Castoreno, an enrolled member of two Apache tribes whose sons are Black and Indigenous, said her sons became more engaged with their school work when teachers began discussing important figures in Black and Native American history and the present-day implications of past injustices.

“I think that many of the people who were able to speak were very specific about the harm that each individual piece of the bill could cause,” she said. “So, it makes it seem as if even those pleas, that information was just falling on deaf ears.”

Huston and Bray both said Thursday they hope to wrap up the session by the end of next week, so time is short for any bill still in conference. Lawmakers must adjourn no later than March 14.