Although Indiana’s 2022 legislative session only lasted two months, lawmakers managed to fill the calendar with education legislation.
Some of the most controversial bills that would have imposed restrictions on teachers and libraries have been stalled and died. But another bill banning transgender girls from participating in women’s sports is headed to Governor Eric Holcomb’s office, who has indicated his support.
Holcomb has seven days to sign or veto a bill after receiving it, after which it becomes law without his signature.
Other education bills that have been passed impose more measured changes to teaching and learning, such as allowing schools to license and hire teachers.
Here are some of the education bills passed by the state legislature this year.
Trans Girls in Youth Sports: Bill 1041 prohibits transgender girls from participating in K-12 girls’ sports. The law project passed both rooms of the legislature without amendments despite significant public testimony against him. Among opponents, the ACLU promised to take legal action if the bill becomes law. Similar bills in other states are already facing challenges in court.
FAFSA for high school students: An attempt to require all Indiana seniors to complete an application for federal student aid, known as the FAFSA, has been watered down significantly. Instead of requiring all high school students to complete the FAFSA, Senate Bill 82 now only requires schools send information on the form to families.
School Board Public Comment: Two bills, HB 1130 and SB 83, require school boards to provide an oral public comment period. In a summer of contentious meetings, at least one neighborhood suspended practice. The new law requires local councils to allow public comment before making a final decision on an issue.
Funding adjustments: SB 2 allows schools to receive full public funding for students who were in quarantine during the 2021-22 school year counting window. The bill extends the window and allows the Department of Education to retroactively adjust funds.
Freedom of expression on campus: A bill to enshrine First Amendment free speech protections for college campuses in state law passed through the legislature this year. Despite unanimous support from lawmakers, some critics questioned why such a move was necessary if these protections were already guaranteed under federal law.
No school AF grades: The state will once again give public schools a “null” or no-letter grade for the current school year as the Indiana Department of Education develops a new grading dashboard. The state has not issued schools with meaningful AF ratings since 2018 due to the move to a new state assessment and the pandemic.
Auxiliary teacher permit: HB 1251 allows school corporations to license full-time or part-time assistant teachers who have at least four years of experience in a school subject and who pass a background check. These teachers do not need to have a degree in education. The omnibus bill will also allow vehicles other than yellow school buses to transport students between home and school – a change sought by charter schools – and orders the State Board of Education to streamline Indiana’s academic standards.
Here are some of the bills that passed a chamber but then failed:
Prohibition of “divisive concepts”: The most debated issue of the session, a bill to regulate classroom lessons about race and racism died after Senate Republicans refused to put it to a vote. GOP lawmakers haven’t added any of the bill’s provisions to other laws, but advocates on both sides expect them to reappear next year.
Protections “harmful material”: A bill to remove legal protections for K-12 schools and public libraries from a law that prohibits the distribution of material harmful to children almost revived in the last hours of the session. But the Senate rejected these provisions. Proponents said they wanted to eliminate books depicting sexual encounters that could be considered pornographic, but opponents feared the bill would ban a wide range of books, including those about sex education or LGBTQ relationships.
Revenue sharing: HB 1072 would have required all school corporations to share referendum money with charter schools that enroll students who live within that corporation’s boundaries, a controversial provision that has already been raised. Indianapolis Public Schools has volunteered to share some tax revenue with its charter schools. The bill passed the House, but the Senate Appropriations Committee refused to give him an audience.
Special Education Conflicts: HB 1107 would have prohibited schools from requiring parents to sign a nondisclosure agreement in order to resolve legal disputes related to their students’ special education services. But the bill suffered a unanimous defeat in the Senate, which advocates described as embarrassing.
Chalkbeat is a nonprofit news site covering educational changes in public schools.