Another viewpoint: GOP favors conservative culture over education

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(Anderson) Herald Bulletin

Sixty-six education-related bills were filed at the statehouse for the ongoing short session.

While some are basically worthy attempts to adapt public schools to changing fiscal, technological and social environments, too many are clearly motivated by the politics of the Republican Party, which holds supermajorities in both legislative chambers.

GOP legislators seem keen on stripping local control from school administrators and teachers in order to entrench conservative culture in Indiana’s schools.

Senate Bill 128, the “human sexuality bill,” would leave it to school boards, instead of professional educators, to decide what “learning materials for instruction on human sexuality” can be used in the classroom.

While Senate Bill 1 would do some good by establishing additional remediation requirements for students who have not passed the state’s IREAD-3 test, it would do more harm via the ham-handed mandate to retain such students in third grade.

As almost any elementary school educator will tell you, dozens of factors should be taken into account when determining whether to hold a student back a grade level. Reading ability should be considered, but not in a vacuum.

Two education culture bills represent the GOP majority’s continuing quest to ignore the principle of church-state separation.

House Bill 1137 would require “a principal to allow a student to attend religious instruction conducted by certain entities following the principal’s receipt of written notice from the student’s parent.”

Senate Bill 50 would allow public schools to hire priests, pastors and other religious leaders as school chaplains to “provide secular support to a student or an employee of the school.”

Perhaps the most brazen education culture measure advancing in the legislature is Senate Bill 202, which is designed, ostensibly, to protect freedom of speech for conservative students attending public universities in Indiana.

The machinations of the bill — basing evaluations of professors on complaints against expressions of liberal thought — would stifle campus political discussion and drive intellectuals away from Indiana.

But that’s where the GOP-dominated General Assembly stands in 2024 — more interested in promoting conservative culture than in advancing the quality of education.