Politics & Policy

Indiana AG Releases ‘Parents Bill of Rights’ to Keep CRT Out of Schools

Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN) announces the 2018 budget blueprint during a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 18, 2017. (Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters)

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita released a “parents bill of rights” on Wednesday to serve as a “roadmap” for parents to review school curricula and keep influences like critical race theory out of schools.

“Education policy and curriculum should reflect the values of Indiana families while meeting the mandatory requirements set forth in law,” Rokita said in a statement. “The single, most effective way to ensure school accountability is for parents to engage in their children’s education. The Parents Bill of Rights empowers them to do just that.” 

“National discourse around political and social issues has created negative and polarizing effects on teachers, school administrators, students, and families,” a news release from the attorney general’s office adds. “Since January, parents and state legislators have turned to Attorney General Rokita for legal interpretations of educational rules and statutory requirements.”

The attorney general’s office said that the new “bill of rights” explains how existing law enables parents to hold their school districts accountable and will serve as a resource for parents to “engage in meaningful civic dialogue that will ultimately benefit Indiana schools, parents, and students.”

The list features six rights, including “the right and expectation to participate in the selection and approval of academic standards for the State of Indiana” and “the right and expectation to question and review the curriculum taught in your child’s school by questioning local school board and school administrators.”

The announcement comes amid a debate over how the topics of history and race should be covered in school curricula. Rokita previously led a group of attorneys general in urging President Biden to rescind an education proposal that would fund critical race theory in schools. 

Critical race theory has been touted by educators and other progressives over the last year as the nation has faced a racial reckoning brought on by the murder of George Floyd.

According to experts, critical race theory “presupposes that racism is embedded within society and institutions.”

The theory’s implementation in classrooms nationwide has drawn outcry from parents, some of whom have received emails from their children’s schools about “Decentering Whiteness at Home”or have elementary-school aged children who have been read “a book about whiteness” that suggests “color matters” and encourages them to dissect “the painful truth” about their “own family,” regarding potential racist behavior.

A parents bill of rights has also surfaced in Loudoun County, Virginia where the local school district is at the center of the larger debate over racial materials in classrooms.

Fight for Schools PAC, an anti-CRT group, proposed a more comprehensive list aimed at enhancing transparency and rebuilding trust between the school board and community. Its list calls for explicitly prohibiting certain teachings, including “capitalism is racist” and “an individual’s moral character is determined by his or her race or skin color.”

Meanwhile, the Florida State Board of Education approved a new rule banning critical race theory and the use of material from the controversial “1619 Project” in the state’s classrooms earlier this month.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said the state must have an education system that is “preferring fact over narrative.” He said that means keeping “outrageous” approaches such as “critical race theory” out of schools.

DeSantis noted that state law requires the teaching of slavery, civil rights and more and it “absolutely should be taught.” However, he argued that teachers should not go beyond the historical record and paint a portrait of a rotten nation.

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