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Indiana state senator to offer 'truth in education' bill


INDIANAPOLIS — A key state senator said Tuesday he won't introduce a bill to allow creationism theories in schools but said he'll propose a "truth in education" bill meant to give students more latitude to challenge their teachers about theories they don't agree with.

Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, said the legislation will be broad and isn't meant only to focus on creationism.

"Students can actually question things and have teachers then do what they can to find research and sources if what they're teaching is true," Kruse said.

Tennessee and at least two other states have already passed a similar law, Kruse said.

Kruse talked about the bill after a news conference in which he pledged to push legislation to fix what he calls a middle-skills gap in Indiana's workforce.

Members of the Indiana Skills2Compete Coalition — a broad group of business, labor and community leaders — joined Kruse for that announcement, which is meant to address problems in the labor market. The group said middle-skill jobs — those that typically require some training or postsecondary education but not a bachelor's degree — make up the largest portion of positions in Indiana's labor market. But the group said too few Hoosiers possess the skills to fill the positions.

The coalition has released a platform it thinks will help train Hoosiers to fill the demands of these jobs and Kruse said he would make three of the recommendations priorities for his committee during the upcoming session.

Kruse will propose allowing part-time students greater access to financial aid and efforts to standardize credential measurements across schools and state agencies. The group also wants to make Indiana's Individual Development Accounts — which are part of a program to help families move out of poverty — more flexible so the money can be used to purchase vehicles.

Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Portage, said it's important for Hoosiers to be able to start working toward a degree or return to college to gain the skills they need for the jobs now available in Indiana.

"People going to college are no longer strictly (recent) high school grads," she said. "We have to take care of a different demographic group that is going back to school or starting school."

The Indiana Skills2Compete Coalition has no connection to Kruse's "truth in education" proposal. He was asked about the issue after the news conference.

Kruse said his proposal is meant to require educators to back up their claims with research if students question the teachings. The proposal would allow schools to figure out the details for implementation.

In Tennessee, lawmakers approved so-called "academic freedom" legislation that encourages critical thinking about scientific theories.

The discussion in Indiana comes one year after Kruse pushed legislation to allow districts to incorporate creationism into their curriculums. The Senate passed the bill — after adding provisions that required schools to add teachings from other religions as well — but House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, killed it, saying the proposal likely ran afoul of the U.S. Constitution.

© 2012 Evansville Courier & Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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