Indianapolis Urban League

Indianapolis Urban League Still Opposes HB 1134: Education Matters

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Indianapolis Urban League Still Opposes HB 1134: Education Matters with Amendments 

Everyone needs to understand that passage of HB 1134 will come at an economic price
that will be paid by our state and our citizens over time.

INDIANAPOLIS (February 16, 2022) – Today, Indianapolis Urban League President and CEO Tony Mason issued the following statement regarding HB 1134, Education Matters, now being considered by the Senate:

The Indianapolis Urban League (IUL) rises in opposition to HB 1134, now being considered by the Indiana Senate after substantial revisions and amendments. Reducing the bill’s list of divisive concepts within the proposed legislation from eight items to three does not lessen our disapproval.

Two of the anchor ideological pillars of the Indianapolis Urban League’s Five-Point Empowerment Strategy are Education and Youth Empowerment and Civil Rights and Racial Justice Empowerment. These commit the IUL to actively working to eradicate all barriers to equal participation in all aspects of our society, whether political, economic, social, educational, or cultural. IUL would be negligent in its responsibilities if it were to support any legislation which attempts to diminish or white-wash the significant role that historical and ongoing racial discrimination, bigotry, and systemic racism have had and continue to play in Indiana and in America’s evolution as an inclusive and evolving democracy.

While we salute the effort of Senator Rogers to attempt to make this bill more palatable, the fact is it remains a bad solution in search of a problem that does not exist. IUL still does not see a need for this legislation; which some lawmakers claim originated in response to complaints from concerned parents. When the Indianapolis Urban League asked members of the House Committee how many formal, official complaints had been filed against schools for teaching “divisive comments” or “Critical Race Theory”, they could not point to a single complaint filed with either the Indiana Civil Rights Commission or the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. We should all be cognizant that this legislation will require concurrence by the House which may worsen the current product.

The truth remains the same. Critical Race Theory is not being taught in grades K-12. Attacking teachers and making it possible for parents to still potentially pursue complaints and /or lawsuits in other legislation because of the discomfort of our children learning historical and documented facts about racism, discrimination and inequities will have a chilling effect on teachers and their ability to teach the truth about the lived experiences of African Americans and other People of Color, past and present, in Indiana. It will also have a chilling effect on teachers teaching unifying concepts related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. The focus on this measure at a time when educational achievement gaps that have placed the state of Indiana near the bottom nationally in educational outcomes that are widening, is beyond inexcusable.

In closing, everyone needs to understand that passage of HB 1134 will come at an economic price that will be paid by our state and our citizens over time. Our state and our school districts were already losing teachers at an alarming rate prior to this legislation; this bill will accelerate and worsen our teacher shortage and education quality. Corporations will have no choice but to reconsider their employee recruitment and hiring goals within our state resulting in less quality, good-paying jobs for Hoosiers statewide. Emerging industries or sectors like technology and biological sciences may have to reconsider their growth strategies and investments in Indiana because of the resulting educational and social climate. Our state’s tourism will be negatively impacted eventually if cultural and social groups, faith-based entities, professional associations, or sports organizations such as the NCAA have to reconsider Indiana cities as host sites for their events and organizations because many of these organizations embrace education, diversity, equity and inclusion as part of their operating principles. The economic impact of this truly short-sighted legislation will be immense. When this happens, do not blame Indiana teachers for teaching so-called “divisive concepts” – instead, blame legislators who supported this legislation and for choosing to follow a national playbook that will only undermine every effort and strategy aimed at improving Indiana’s image and positioning for economic growth over the last 50 years.

HB 1134 must not be accepted by the Indiana Legislature as our state will eventually see significant losses in our economic, social, and human relations progress built so intricately over many years.


Tony Mason President & CEO