Is Indiana really ready to allow public schools and private schools to drop the mandates to display the United States flag and to study the constitutions of Indiana and the United States?
I hope not!
Those mandates could be dropped, however, under House Bill 1398 to be heard in the House Education Committee tomorrow morning, January 23rd, at 8:30am in the House Chamber.
The bill is called “Coalition of school corporations”. It would allow a group of school corporations to band together with private schools to apply to the State Board of Education to become a “Coalition of Continuous Improvement School Districts” and provides that “certain statues or rules may be suspended for a coalition member.”
On page 4 of the bill, it says: “(a) Notwithstanding any other law, the operation of the following is suspended for a coalition school: (1) IC 20-30, concerning curriculum.”
IC 20-30 is the body of laws that prescribe the Indiana curriculum, including all of the mandatory curriculum bills related to teaching citizenship, patriotism and knowledge about the institutions of our democracy. One sentence would waive the requirement to teach students about our constitutional heritage!
Other laws and rules concerning curricular materials, teacher licenses and performance based accreditation would also be waived.
I will be the first to say that there is much that I don’t understand about this bill. How it will help Indiana is not clear. Perhaps there are some redeeming qualities that will be explained in the hearing, but allowing any student to attend public schools without the obligation to teach them to be good citizens in our democracy is simply wrong.
Teaching Citizenship to All Students
From the start in Indiana, one of the primary purposes of public schools in Indiana was to teach every student about their responsibilities and freedoms under our Constitution. The General Assembly has specified what this means in a number of mandatory curriculum laws in Indiana Code 20-30.
When the first funding of private school vouchers was proposed in 2011, Senator Steele became concerned about whether private schools getting public funds could use those public funds for unpatriotic purposes. His concern led to the Steele Amendment which was adopted into the voucher law and remains there today requiring private schools accepting vouchers to observe the same mandatory citizenship and patriotism laws that all public schools are required to follow.
House Bill 1398 should not waive the laws to teach citizenship to our students!
What Can You Do?
Republican Representatives Behning, Cook, Burton, Clere, DeVon, Jordan, Lucas, Thompson and Wesco
Democratic Representatives V. Smith, DeLaney, Errington and Klinker.
Their emails are:
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Obviously this is short notice. Anything you can do on this in the next few days will be helpful to maintaining citizenship instruction as a pillar of public schools.
Thank you for actively supporting public education in Indiana!