STATEWIDE–Teachers and activists went to the Indiana Statehouse Wednesday to tell Hoosier lawmakers that a bill to prohibit teaching critical race theory in classrooms could cause setbacks in the progress of students of color.
If approved, the bill would prohibit educators from teaching critical race theory and certain concepts commonly associated with critical race theory, such as members of one group being inherently responsible for the status of another group. It also would require teachers to post all instructional material online and direct every school corporation to put together a curriculum advisory committee that would include parents and teachers.
David Greene is a Pastor at Purpose of Life Ministries in Indianapolis. He spoke at a news conference Wednesday with other education consultants, members of NAACP Indianapolis, and the Indiana State Teachers Association.
“Black and brown students are woefully behind academically. One of the top recommendations for addressing this issue was to address the number of minority teachers. This bill and similar bills would lead to a decrease in minority teachers,” said Greene.
Dr. Gwendolyn Kelley, an education consultant and former educator with Indianapolis Public Schools and Anderson University, said the limits set forth in the bill not only would limit teachers’ ability to incorporate the experiences of previously marginalized communities but also restrict their handling of racial, ethnic or political tensions that come up between students.
“One day after a story was read about an African American hero, a Hispanic child told a black child that he was glad he wasn’t black. He would rather be Hispanic than black. I could see how this bill would stifle a teacher or anyone working with children from addressing that and trying to get children to work together without being prejudice,” said Kelley.
Representative Tony Cook (R-Cicero) is the author of the bill.
“I was a U.S. history teacher. I taught them the facts. Facts are different than theory and that’s where I’m going with this. Teach the facts. The facts will talk to students. Students will make, form, and fashion their own opinions about those. What we’re trying to caution against is bringing in my own feelings and imposing or promoting those to students,” said Cook at a recent hearing about the bill.
Cook says teaching history is fine, but he says teaching that some people are fundamentally evil because of our history is not.
Some parents say certain teachers are making their white children feel like they are directly responsible for injustices against minorities, which is why they want to see teachers post their lesson plans online so they can view them beforehand.
A similar bill did not make it out of the Senate last week. This bill, HB 1134, is still being reviewed.
LISTEN: Partial audio from Wednesday news conference
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