On Feb. 16, the Senate Education Committee released a new version of HB 1134, which is drastically different from the original, with only one paragraph remaining unchanged between the two.
The new version essentially took out everything that opponents felt was problematic with the first bill and narrowed down the tenets from eight to three. Principal Brian Knight said that this new version “wouldn’t change much for us” here at SHS because the school already does many of the things that could become required by law, like having a student management center available to parents and a formal way to file complaints.
This version is “100 times better than it was,” according to Tim McRoberts, Associate Executive Director for the Indiana Association of School Principals.
But, there are no guarantees that it will stick around. After the education committee in the Senate finalizes their copy of HB 1134, it will be heard on the Senate floor on Feb. 23, which is after the end of The Journal’s production cycle. If it is approved by the Senate, then it will go back to the House, who can then choose to either approve it or file a dissent. If they file a dissent, then the bill would go to a conference committee, made up of both House and Senate members, who would try to find a compromise.
All of these possibilities show that nothing in this bill is concrete.
“We’ll just kind of have to wait and see…,” McRoberts said. “But right now it’s good news that I think educators can feel… better about.”
Though most teachers would consider this bill losing its teeth to be a good thing, some are now concerned that the amended bill won’t be enough to appease those who first wrote it. With it being so watered down, does it accomplish what they set out to do? And, if this bill isn’t passed, will these issues be left behind?
Luers and Knight both agree that if the bill passes in its weakened form or is rejected altogether, those in favor of the original version may try to split up some of its principles into other bills, making them easier to pass.
“Could something like this come up on the coattails of something else that is pretty reasonable to pass, and it gets through because it’s tied to all those other pieces?” Knight said.