(The Center Square) – Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita issued an expanded Parents Bill of Rights last week, calling Critical Race Theory “deeply flawed” and “destructive” and saying it’s not aligned with any Indiana educational standards and schools should not be using it.
“Indiana standards should reflect a holistic approach that is balanced and representative of all viewpoints and consistent with the curriculum approved by the IGA [Indiana General Assembly],” the document reads. “Traditional U.S. history and civics curriculum should not be diluted with controversial and radical teachings of CRT in a K-12 classroom. Standards reflecting various civic and moral instruction must be crafted in ways that reflect equality, inclusivity, and diversity, while not maligning parents, students and educators.”
The document notes the controversy around CRT and includes the question of whether it is actually being taught or used as a framework for teaching in classrooms in Indiana.
“Some school administrators have denied teaching CRT and Marxist ideologies by name,” the document reads. “Yet, parents with children in these same schools have provided examples that prove otherwise.”
The document goes on to list several examples related by parents, including a social studies lesson on the Civil War that singled out white students as oppressors, and the inclusion on class reading lists of books written by CRT advocates like Ibram X. Kendi, author of Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America.
Throughout the document, which also touches on social-emotional Learning and the difference between equality and equity, Rokita refers to state standards, and also outlines several ways parents can take action.
Parents can contact legislators to ask that laws be passed to ban or approve specific curricula.
“Several states have proposed and passed legislation designed to limit these controversial theories from classroom instruction,” it says. “Parents have the right to petition the IGA to pass similar legislation to address these ideologies’ polarizing effect on education instruction.”
On social-emotional learning, the expanded Parents Bill of Rights notes state law gives the Indiana Department of Education the authority to develop a plan social-emotional learning, and notes Indiana’s social-emotional Learning competencies focus on five things: self-awareness, social awareness, self-management, relationship skills and responsible decision-making, and also sensory integration and the mindset.
Schools do not have to implement any of these, Rokita said, and there is no law that mandates SEL in Indiana classrooms.
However, the document says, three of the seven SEL competencies were wrapped into the Indiana Employability Standards, which are mandatory.
“If parents don’t want the Employability Standards under Indiana Code 20-30-5-14 to include SEL, they have the right to petition the IGA to petition the IGA to prohibit IDOE from adopting SEL practices as a means of meeting these standards,” the document says.
In addition to CRT and SEL, the expanded document also details how parents can file a civil rights complaint with the state or with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights if they feel their rights were violated by a school district “creating a racially hostile environment” or excluding a student from activities based on their race, religion, sex or other categories.
It also has a whole section on parent medical rights. On the issue of COVID-19, it says a school or school district is permitted to give a student’s private medical information, without prior consent, “to appropriate officials at a public health department who need the information to protect the health or safety of the student (or another individual).”
But schools cannot test a student for COVID-19 without the parent’s consent, Rokita said, and cannot be vaccinated without a parent’s permission.
The full 53-page Parents Bill of Rights can be read on the website of the Attorney General.