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Indiana Senate passes bill requiring ethnic studies

Scott Elliott

A bill passed by the Indiana Senate today would require that high school students study ethnic history in social studies, but lawmakers said it shouldn’t put extra pressure on teachers.

“This is already required by the standards that we provide for our teachers,” said author Sen. Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis.

The law is needed, Taylor said while presenting the bill last month, because academic standards don’t always go far enough to ensure children understand the local history of minority communities and their achievements rather than just a general overview. Senate Bill 495 would make it more likely that students learn about about the achievements and history of minority groups in their own communities, Taylor said.

He gave the example of Madame C. J. Walker, a black entrepreneur who is recognized as the first American woman to become a self-made millionaire. She built her business’ headquarters in Indianapolis, and the city’s students should have a chance to learn about her, he said.

The bill passed 43-7, and will move to the House sometime next month.

The senate also passed two other education bills today:

STEM dual-credit associate degree pilot program, Senate Bill 259. The bill would create a pilot program of 10 high schools, to be chosen by the Indiana Department of Education, to allow students to take classes toward an associate’s degree in science, technology, engineering or math by the time they graduate high school. The bill passed the senate 50-0.

Bilingual recognition, Senate Bill 267. The bill would give bilingual high school students a special certificate and note on their transcripts that they are proficient in a second language. Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, said local employers with international companies could consider such skills valuable to their businesses. The bill passed 50-0.

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