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Indiana Statehouse


STATEHOUSE — A bill to prohibit schools from teaching that any one race is inherently inferior or superior is being debated among Indiana lawmakers.

Senate Bill 386 aims to stop educators from teaching what many lawmakers refer to as critical race theory. The bill is backed by Republican state lawmakers, but will not be voted on by the Senate Education Committee.

On Tuesday, public school advocates gathered to share their concerns about the measure with the bill’s sponsor. Many of those advocates called lawmakers who support the bill “ignorant.”

Marshawn Wolley, who is the president and chief executive officers of an Indianapolis management consulting firm, said he was thrilled the other day to listen to his son tell him everything he had learned about Augusta Savage, a Black sculptor who was active during the Harlem Renaissance. Wolley said he never learned about Savage in school.

“It didn’t denigrate anybody. It didn’t denounce anyone else. It shouldn’t have made anyone else feel bad,” he said. “He got a chance to, like white children do, see himself in history.”

It’s the kind of lesson Wolley says he thinks this Indiana legislation would prevent from happening.

Ivan Douglas Hicks currently serves as the Senior Minister of the historic First Baptist Church North Indianapolis.

“All children need to learn the truth about history and where we have come from. Everybody needs to understand the greatness of everybody’s culture,” said Hicks.

Opponents say they met with the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Jeff Raatz, a Republican from Richmond, on Monday. During that meeting, Raatz told them he plans to amend the bill, which also includes language dealing with gender identity, religion and other topics, to deal solely with race. Those in favor of it argue that they’re trying to prevent teachers from promoting far left-wing ideology in classes.

A proposed amendment to the bill would strip out most of the topics except when it comes to race and color.

Public school advocates including Keith Gambill, president of Indiana State Teachers Association, said the measure would prevent students from learning about pivotal events in America’s civil rights history, such as the march in Selma, Alabama, the Stonewall Riot or, further back in history, the role of slavery in causing the Civil War.

A Gallup poll commissioned by the Indiana Department of Education and released on Feb. 1 found 78% of parents approve of what their children are being taught, while 7% said they disapprove.

Next Thursday is the deadline for Senate bills to pass committee if they are to remain in consideration for this session.