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House Committee passes controversial bill calling for transparency in education

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WTHI)- The Indiana House Committee on education passed a controversial bill that asks for more transparency when it comes to a student's education.

Under House Bill 1134, educators would have to share lesson plans and curriculum guides with a committee comprised of other teachers, parents, and community members. Along with that, school systems would be required to give parents the ability to opt-in or opt-out their students to different lessons.

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Supporters of the bill believe it gives parents more control over their child's education. But, teacher and state representative Tonya Pfaff feels a law is not necessary to make this happen.

"If you have a problem with a teacher," she said. "You have a problem with the curriculum, if you have a problem with a book in the library, there is already a process in place for you to put your complaint in."

Others are concerned this bill could prevent other conversations in the classroom. The bill list topics such as gender, sexuality, race and political affiliation as issues that should not be a part of the curriculum. While these are often difficult conversations to have, state representative Dr. Vernon Smith believes it's something students and other individuals need to hear.

"People need to feel guilty in order to change," he said. "They need to feel discomfort in order to change."

Many teachers testified these requirements also put extra stress on school systems that are already struggling with burnout and short staffing. One opposer of the bill said there were other ways to encourage parent involvement in their child's education.

"Many of our teachers are very much wanting their parents to be involved in the classroom, " Rachel Hathaway, executive director of Teach Plus Indiana, said. "And often find it to be a struggle to get parents involved in their classroom. So, our hope is that as we work to be more transparent that we are thoughtful of the owness it's putting on teachers."

The bill now passes onto the full House for hearing.

Multimedia Journalist/Producer

Caitlin is a multimedia journalist/producer for WTHI-TV. Have a story tip or idea? Contact her! Email: Caitlin.Hunt@wthitv.com.

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