A controversial school curriculum and parent transparency bill underwent more changes and passed out of a Senate committee Wednesday. The changes come after public testimony on the bill was cut off by the Senate education committee chair last week.
Republicans approved the newest changes proposed by the bill's sponsor, Sen. Linda Rogers (R-Granger).
An amendment to the bill from Rogers included a new requirement for the Indiana Department of Education to research and report the number of school advisory committees that already exist in the state, and a section for a summer study committee to look into school-based mental health services.
Rogers said the bill's latest amendment also brings back parts of the bill that were taken out ahead of its public hearing last week .
"It also adds back language from the version that came over from the House – adding that the school may not make contracts or accept grants to promote any divisive concepts," she said.
Despite the reworking of the bill in the Senate, opposition to House Bill 1134 has grown as it moves through the legislature – from teachers, Black Hoosiers and students. Hundreds of people have converged on the Statehouse in recent weeks to urge the bill's defeat.
Sen. Eddie Melton (D-Gary) offered an amendment in committee that would have required enhanced Black history be taught in high school history classes, like the state already requires for the Holocaust. The amendment failed.
"Seriously think about the message that you're sending, when we didn't pass a simple amendment to teach our children about the sins of this country," he said.
Melton's fellow Democrats on the committee, Sens. Shelli Yoder (D-Bloomington), Fady Qaddoura (D-Indianapolis) and J.D. Ford (D-Indianapolis) also offered several amendments.
Their proposals would have sent topics within the bill to a summer study committee, focused the bill solely on classroom content transparency, and included more protected groups in language prohibiting the promotion of discrimination for aspects of one's identity.
They all failed.
Most Republicans supported the bill during the final vote in committee, but Sen. Jean Leising (R-Oldenburg) said she's struggled with it.
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She said she couldn't support it because of wide-ranging opposition she's heard from constituents – including superintendents, teachers, and corporations.
"For me today, the only correct vote is a no vote," Leising said.
It passed anyway with all other Republicans on the committee voting in favor . The measure now moves to the full Senate.