'A sigh of relief': Teachers react to controversial house bill dying in Senate – The Times of Northwest Indiana

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House Bill 1134 died in the Senate this week, after it was not called down during second readings. 
Lauren Bridgeman, a teacher at Lake Central School Corp., said House Bill 1134 dying was a “sigh of relief.”
House Bill 1134 was a bill in the Indiana legislature that would have limited what teachers can say in schools. The bill would have required schools to post educational activities and curricular materials on their school’s website. 
The house version of the bill also listed a series of “divisive concepts” that would be banned in Indiana classrooms, and it created regulations in the discussion of issues involving sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, national origin and political affiliation.
School corporations would also have been required to request, in writing, the provision or administration of mental, social-emotional or psychological services to their children before providing those services. A significantly weakened version of the bill was proposed in the Indiana Senate.
Todd Shafer, a teacher for Culver Community School Corp., said he was initially overjoyed. He was thankful that all the effort from people who went down to the statehouse worked. Approximately 200 people signed up to testify regarding the Senate version of the bill when it was heard, including educators and parents. 
Emily Maurek, a teacher in the Lake Central School Corp., said she feels like she still has to have her guard up, aspects of 1134 could be added into other bills during the conference committee. 
However, Senate President Rodric Bray said the future of 1134 doesn’t look good. House speaker Todd Houston said House Republicans wanted what they had and were unwilling to accept anything less. 
Kristin McMurtrey, the chairwoman of the Northwest Indiana Coalition for Public Education and a licensed English teacher, said while she is thankful the bill did not pass, she is hesitant to be completely relieved. 
Even if aspects of 1134 are not added this session, McMurtrey said this bill or something similar could come back next session.
Maurek said she feels like when she interacts with legislators, there is good conversation where they are civil, but when it comes to vote, they vote against local education. She said it is part of a national movement against education and a culture of fear. 
She said Indiana is not a friendly place to be an educator. Shafer said he feels like there is some sort of animosity from the legislature toward the education profession and he does not know why it exists. 
Bridgeman said the legislators are claiming these issues come from their constituents. She asked where those constituents are, because the majority she knows are in support of public education. 
Travis Scherer, a teacher at Tri-County High School, said education in general is viewed as adversarial and it doesn’t have to be. 
Bob DeRuntz, a teacher at Chesterton High School, said he appreciated that Senators, both Democratic and Republican, took a stand against HB 1134’s overreach. 
“Rather than making efforts to restrict our teachers we should be making every effort to increase respect for the profession and support teachers to help attract good people into the noble profession,” DeRuntz said in an email. 
Eric Gappa, math teacher at North Judson-San Pierre Schools, said people he knows are feeling better about being in education and are not as inclined to leave the profession or retire early. 
Bridgeman said she knew more than five teachers who were planning to leave had the bill passed. 
She said she is thankful that, at least for another year, children can learn factual information in schools. 
State Sen. Michael Griffin, D-Highland
1st Senate District
Represents: Hammond (south side), Munster, Highland, Griffith, Dyer, Schererville
Experience: Former Highland clerk-treasurer; university instructor
Committees: Insurance and Financial Institutions; Local Government
State Sen. Lonnie Randolph, D-East Chicago
2nd Senate District
Represents: Hammond, Whiting, East Chicago, Gary (west side), Griffith, Hobart, Merrillville
Experience: State senator since 2008, previously served 1994-98; attorney
Committees: Commerce and Technology; Insurance and Financial Institutions (ranking member); Judiciary (ranking member); Rules and Legislative Procedure; Tax and Fiscal Policy; Utilities (ranking member)
State Sen. Eddie Melton, D-Gary
3rd Senate District
Represents: Gary, Lake Station, New Chicago, Hobart, Merrillville, Crown Point
Experience: State senator since 2016; community relations manager
Committees: Appropriations (ranking member); Education and Career Development; Health and Provider Services; Joint Rules; Rules and Legislative Procedure
State Sen. Rodney Pol Jr., D-Chesterton
4th Senate District
Represents: Ogden Dunes, Portage, Chesterton, South Haven, Burns Harbor, Beverly Shores, Michigan City, Westville
Experience: State senator since 2021; attorney
Committees: Corrections and Criminal Law (ranking member); Environmental Affairs; Local Government; Pensions and Labor; Public Policy
State Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso
5th Senate District
Represents: Valparaiso, Hebron, Kouts, Jasper County
Experience: State senator since 2007; attorney
Committees: Appropriations; Ethics; Health and Provider Services (chairman); Rules and Legislative Procedure; Tax and Fiscal Policy
State Sen. Rick Niemeyer, R-Lowell
6th Senate District
Represents: St. John, Cedar Lake, Crown Point, Winfield, Lowell, Newton County
Experience: State senator since 2014, state representative 2012-14; small business owner
Committees: Environmental Affairs; Local Government; Tax and Fiscal Policy
State Sen. Mike Bohacek, R-Michiana Shores
8th Senate District
Represents: LaPorte County
Experience: State senator since 2016; consultant
Committees: Corrections and Criminal Law; Insurance and Financial Institutions; Judiciary; Local Government
State Rep. Carolyn Jackson, D-Hammond
1st House District
Represents: Hammond, Whiting
Experience: State representative since 2018; retired Cook County, Ill., probation officer
Committees: Environmental Affairs; Family, Children and Human Affairs; Natural Resources
State Rep. Earl Harris Jr., D-East Chicago
2nd House District
Represents: East Chicago, Gary (west side)
Experience: State representative since 2016; small business owner
Committees: Government and Regulatory Reform; Roads and Transportation; Ways and Means
State Rep. Ragen Hatcher, D-Gary
3rd House District
Represents: Gary (downtown and east side), Lake Station, New Chicago, Hobart
Experience: State representative since 2018; attorney
Committees: Commerce, Small Business and Economic Development; Courts and Criminal Code (ranking member); Government and Regulatory Reform
State Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso
4th House District
Represents: Valparaiso
Experience: State representative since 2006; aviation safety consultant
Committees: Elections and Apportionment; Roads and Transportation; Utilities, Energy and Telecommunications (chairman)
State Rep. Pat Boy, D-Michigan City
9th House District
Represents: Michigan City, Chesterton, Beverly Shores, Long Beach, Westville
Experience: State representative since 2018; retired small business owner
Committees: Environmental Affairs; Natural Resources (ranking member)
State Rep. Chuck Moseley, D-Portage
10th House District
Represents: Portage, Chesterton, Ogden Dunes, Burns Harbor, South Haven
Experience: State representative since 2008; financial solutions associate
Committees: Employment, Labor and Pensions; Roads and Transportation (ranking member); Veterans Affairs and Public Safety
State Rep. Mike Aylesworth, R-Hebron
11th House District
Represents: St. John, Cedar Lake, Lowell, Schneider, Hebron, Kouts
Experience: State representative since 2014; farmer, former state environmental regulator
Committees: Agriculture and Rural Development (vice chairman); Courts and Criminal Code; Environmental Affairs
State Rep. Mike Andrade, D-Munster
12th House District
Represents: Munster, Hammond (south side), Highland, Griffith
Experience: State representative since 2020; small businessman
Committees: Commerce, Small Business and Economic Development; Employment, Labor and Pensions; Veterans Affairs and Public Safety
State Rep. Vernon Smith, D-Gary
14th House District
Represents: Gary (south side), Merrillville
Experience: State representative since 1990; education professor at Indiana University Northwest
Committees: Education (ranking member); Judiciary; Local Government
State Rep. Hal Slager, R-Schererville
15th House District
Represents: Dyer, Schererville, St. John, Griffith
Experience: State representative 2012-18, reelected 2020; small business owner
Committees: Environmental Affairs; Ways and Means
State Rep. Douglas Gutwein, R-Francesville
16th House District
Represents: Newton, Jasper counties
Experience: State representative since 2008; small business owner
Committees: Agriculture and Rural Development; Environmental Affairs (vice chairman); Veterans Affairs and Public Safety
State Rep. Julie Olthoff, R-Crown Point
19th House District
Represents: Crown Point, Merrillville, Winfield, Lakes of the Four Seasons, Hobart
Experience: State representative 2014-2018, reelected 2020; small business owner
Committees: Family, Children and Human Affairs; Public Health (vice chairwoman); Veterans Affairs and Public Safety
State Rep. Jim Pressel, R-Rolling Prairie
20th House District
Represents: LaPorte County
Experience: State representative since 2016; small business owner
Committees: Commerce, Small Business and Economic Development; Roads and Transportation (chairman)

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House Bill 1134 died in the Senate this week, after it was not called down during second readings. 
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