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Attorney general recommends Indiana schools keep Black Lives Matter material out of classrooms

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Rokita

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita speaks after being sworn in Jan. 11 during an inaugural ceremony at the Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis. 

Attorney General Todd Rokita seems to be taking another shot at achieving national notoriety by mixing the hot-button issues of race and education.

Earlier this week, the Hoosier Republican issued an official opinion declaring Black Lives Matter (BLM) to be a "political organization," contrary to a July 2020 memo by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel under Republican President Donald Trump that concluded BLM primarily was engaged in issue advocacy and not focused on electing candidates to office.

The distinction matters because Rokita claims Indiana schools are forbidden from displaying posters, signs and similar items associated with political organizations, and teachers cannot use materials or curriculum provided by political organizations in their lessons — unless schools permit all political organizations to supply materials and lessons to their students.

As a result, Rokita said school districts have the authority to bar "BLM materials, lessons or indoctrinations" from their classrooms, hallways, and facilities generally. And Rokita is, in fact, encouraging school district leaders to "ensure classrooms remain politically neutral," as he's confident many already are.

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"The Indiana Office of the Attorney General understands most Indiana teachers are educators because they maintain a passion for teaching children and do not wish to use classroom time as an indoctrination tool to push their political, religious, or other social views on the youth in their care," Rokita said.

Rokita so far has not established a school poster police and did not specify what may happen if teachers and school districts ignore his official opinion, which has no force of law but may be taken into consideration by an Indiana court if an on-point legal issue arises.

He also did not target his official opinion to Hoosier parents as he did in July when Rokita spontaneously issued a 16-page "Parents Bill of Rights" that purports to detail the legal rights of Indiana parents to participate in their child's education.

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Rokita alleged in that document that critical race theory (CRT) is "consistently being backdoored into Indiana classrooms, contrary to state and federal law," and he urged Hoosier parents to confront school board members whenever they believe "Marxist ideologies" that seek to "abolish individual rights and redistribute wealth" are being taught in schools.

In both cases, Rokita issued his race and education pronouncements initially to national conservative media outlets before sharing them with Indiana news publications. Rokita also subsequently touted his Parents Bill of Rights on multiple conservative television networks.

He followed a similar pattern in August when Rokita launched an "investigation" into possible Chinese Communist infiltration of Valparaiso University that resulted in Valpo shutting its Confucius Institute cultural exchange and Chinese language programs.

In addition, Rokita claims to still be investigating whether nine, mostly black, civil rights leaders conspired with Facebook head Mark Zuckerberg during a November 2019 dinner to censor conservative viewpoints online ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

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