- Indiana House Speaker Todd Huston resigned from his job as a College Board executive this week after coming under fire for supporting a bill that would restrict certain topics, including race-related ones, from being taught in the state's K-12 schools.
- The Republican representative, who was the College Board's senior vice president of state and district partnerships, cited his desire to focus more on his legislative position.
- Critics said the College Board should have been more forceful in denouncing the conflict of interest they perceived with Huston as well as the anti-critical race theory legislation.
A firestorm emerged late last month when Santiago Mayer, founder and executive director of civic engagement group Voters of Tomorrow, tweeted about Huston's dual roles and called for the College Board to fire Huston over his support for House Bill 1134.
The #FireToddHuston campaign began to spread on Twitter, culminating in left-aligned journalist Judd Legum publishing a story Monday detailing how Huston helped shepherd the bill through the legislative process.
Huston's final day at the College Board was Monday, according to an emailed statement from his spokesperson, Erin Wittern, who said the decision was not related to any legislative efforts.
"I've contemplated how I could best balance the tremendous level of responsibility required in my substantial role at the College Board and as a public servant," Huston said in a statement. "Ultimately, I decided to leave the College Board family."
College Board spokesperson Jerome White said in an email that the organization is grateful for Huston's "nine successful years at the College Board."
"Over that time, Todd has cultivated a superb team of leaders, who are now well prepared to lead our work with state and district partners," White said.
Huston was elected to the Indiana House of Representatives in 2012, the same year he began working at the College Board, where he earned more than $460,000 a year, according to its latest tax filing.
Considered a rising star in the state party, Huston was named speaker in 2020 after his predecessor groomed him for the position. College Board CEO David Coleman donated at least once to Huston, with a $10,000 contribution in 2012.
Last month, Huston voted in favor of HB 1134, which has been widely panned by educators and civil rights groups. The bill would block schools and teachers from promoting certain concepts, including that individuals should feel guilty on account of their "sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, national origin, or political affiliation." It also would permit educators to be stripped of their teaching license if they breached the bill's requirements. And it would give parents new oversight over curricula.
The legislation is working its way through the Indiana Senate and matches the national conservative animus against critical race theory, a decades-old academic concept that in part says racism is systemic. Anti-critical race theory rhetoric has been used to bolster Republican lawmakers' campaigns. Political observers attributed the recent victory of Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, a Republican, partially to his stances on education and critical race theory.
Meanwhile, the College Board, best known for administering the SAT and Advanced Placement tests, has hemorrhaged revenue during the pandemic. That's in part because the coronavirus' spread shut down many sites where students typically take the SAT. The testing provider recently announced the exam will go digital in the U.S. in 2024, but this did not quell criticism that its cornerstone product is inequitable. The College Board contends the test helps low-income students showcase their academic abilities.
Broad contingents of colleges are no longer requiring, at least temporarily, SAT or ACT scores for admissions.
However, in Indiana, high school juniors are required to take the SAT under state legislation passed in 2018. Huston did not vote on that bill at any stage in the legislative process.