House Republicans passed the Parents’ Bill of Rights Act on Friday by a narrow 213-208 in a largely party line vote.
House Republicans passed the Parents’ Bill of Rights Act on Friday by a narrow 213-208 in a largely party line vote. The bill would increase transparency in public schools and ensure more parental oversight over school curricula across the country.
- The Parents’ Bill of Rights affirms the rights of parents to address their local school board. The bill requires schools to provide parents with lists of curriculum materials, textbooks, and budgetary information.
- The bill would also give parents a voice when schools are revising their policies about student privacy and when they are updating their curriculum. Democrats have derided the legislation as the “Politics over Parents act.”
- “This bill is not complex or complicated,” said Rep. Julia Letlow (R-LA), the lead sponsor of the legislation, on the House floor on Thursday. She continued, “Nor should it be partisan or polarizing, and contrary to what you may hear from my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, it is not an attack on our hard-working teachers, who will always be the heroes in my eyes.”
- Under this legislation, schools would also be required to notify parents if incidents of violence occurred at their child’s school. Parents would also be notified if their child asks to be called by a different name or use different pronouns during the school day.
- The bill is unlikely to be brought up for a vote in the Democratic-controlled Senate, but its passage fulfills a key campaign promise of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy from the 2022 midterm elections. The GOP is ““keeping our promise, our commitment to America, that parents will have a say in their kids’ education,” said McCarthy.
- “Today was a win for every mother, every father, but most importantly, for every student in America,” said McCarthy at a press conference after the vote. “But unfortunately, the Democrats are too extreme to believe that parents should have a say in their kids’ education.”
- All House Democrats opposed the bill, along with five House Republicans. Four members of the hard-right Freedom Caucus – Reps. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Ken Buck (R-CO), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), and Matt Rosendale (R-MT) – voted against the measure, as did Rep. Mike Lawler (R-NY).
- Washington Post opinion columnist Petula Dvorak argued that Congress should pass a “Parents’ Bill of Responsibilities” instead of worrying about parents’ rights. Dvorak mocked the supporters of this “toxic bill,” writing: “How to say you’ve been totally asleep at the switch of your children’s life without saying it? Support the ‘Parents Bill of Rights Act!’”
- The New York Times characterized the bill as “part of a Republican effort to wring political advantage from a raging debate over contentious social issues.” In their own effort to “wring political advantage from a raging debate over contentions social issues,” the White House has condemned the bill because it “endangers transgender children” – but writer Annie Karni did not include similar skepticism over the White House’s rhetoric or motives as she did for the House GOP.
- CNN reported on Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s comments regarding the bill’s chances in the Senate. Schumer dismissed the legislation as a “school control bill” and said the “Orwellian to the core” legislation would “not see the light of day” in the Senate.
- National Review noted the bill addresses the effort by the National School Boards Association to sic the Biden administration on parent protesters at school boards, who were smeared by the NSBA as engaging in “domestic terrorism.” The legislations says school officials “should never seek to use law enforcement to criminalize the lawfully expressed concerns of parents about their children’s education,” and that the “First Amendment guarantees parents and other stakeholders the right to assemble and express their opinions on decisions affecting their children and communities.”
- Both parties traded accusations about “extremism” in the runup to the vote, according to Fox News. Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) claimed without evidence that “extreme MAGA Republicans” want to ban books about the Holocaust, Martin Luther King Jr., the “LGBTQ journey” and even Roberto Clemente. McCarthy in turn dismissed the Democrats as an “extreme minority party” that thinks “parents shouldn’t have a say in their kids’ education.”
- The bill’s passage comes as a new poll indicates a majority of Americans believe it is “not appropriate” for public school teachers to discuss politics in the classroom, according to Breitbart. The Selzer & Company survey found 57 percent of US adults think it’s inappropriate for teachers to bring their politics into the classroom, while only 41 percent think it’s fine.
© Dominic Moore, 2023