Republicans Release ‘Parent Bill Of Rights’ To Back Efforts At Public School Oversight

Republicans Release ‘Parent Bill Of Rights’ To Back Efforts At Public School Oversight

A new bill House Republican leadership is describing as a “parents’ bill of rights” would write into federal education law transparency requirements for curriculum and spending, two annual parent-teacher meetings, and that parents sign consent forms before schools mine their childrens’ private data and administer health procedures.

The proposal unveiled at Wednesday’s Republican Study Committee lunch and released first to The Federalist would also forbid public schools from selling student data. The bill would also forbid third parties that schools contract with from selling that data. It does not prohibit federal agencies from amassing extensive student data profiles that follow them for life, a project long underway.

“This is about empowering parents — giving them the backup they need that when they want to go up against a school board, they’ve got members of Congress behind them,” said Michele Exner, communications director for House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, in a phone interview Wednesday morning.

On Tuesday, Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley released a similar bill that also reinforces laws requiring public disclosure of school spending and curriculum. In addition, Hawley’s bill would ban public schools from requiring parents to sign nondisclosure agreements to see what materials their children encounter in government-run schools, which some districts have done recently. Hawley’s bill would also affirm parents’ right to visit their children in school during school hours, another basic parent right that government-run schools have forced parents to get lawyers to exercise.

Parents and taxpayers already have the legal right to view their children’s curriculum materials, make their voice heard to public officials, and know school spending details, but many parents don’t know their legal rights, a House Republican aide noted via phone. That allows schools to create an atmosphere of distrust and secrecy. Once parents find out what their schools are doing, they often raise their voices about their findings. These bills aim to assist parents in exercising such oversight over their children and public institutions.

The message from Republicans, which Hawley reiterated in a Fox News appearance on Wednesday, is that Democrats don’t believe parents deserve to control their kids’ schools, but Republicans do. Exner said Republican leadership is working to build consensus among Republican members so if voters grant them majorities in 2022 and beyond, they can follow through on promises to reinforce parents’ rights through bills like this as well as expanding school choice.

“With the momentum that we’re seeing from the Virginia election, going from plus 10 Biden to plus two on the conservative side for Youngkin, that was clearly a race that was won on education,” Exner noted. “Parents felt powerless for the past two years of their education … with no power to affect it. It’s not going away. People are not forgetting. They’re pissed, and they know it was Democrats who started this. I think we have incredible momentum here, and we’re not going to stop.”

A large portion of the racial hatred industry animating parent complaints to local school boards is undertaken by federally subsidized institutions such as public school districts, corporate contractors, and universities. Neither of these bills would ban federal funds from institutions that teach children to dislike each other and believe in racial hierarchies based on people’s ancestry and skin color.

House Republican staff said helping parents find out what is going on in their schools will help them find and combat both critical race theory and any other divisive and evil ideology.

Update: A press release Wednesday afternoon names the bill’s initial cosponsors as Republican Reps. Kevin McCarthy, California; Virginia Foxx, North Carolina; Julia Letlow, Louisiana; Burgess Owens, Utah; and Jim Banks, Indiana. These sponsors released a statement that reads, in part: “America’s parents should never be made to feel powerless – they should be empowered and protected when it comes to having an influence in their own children’s education. We are proud that we have an opportunity to stand with families and demonstrate through our policies and actions that the Republican Party is the Party of Parents and Education.”

Joy Pullmann is executive editor of The Federalist, a happy wife, and the mother of six children. Her brand-new e-book is "The Advent Planbook." Check out her recommended classic Christmas picture books, "The Read-Aloud Advent Calendar," and her bestselling ebook, "Classic Books for Young Children." Sign up here to get early access to her next full-length book, "How To Control The Internet So It Doesn’t Control You." A Hillsdale College honors graduate, @JoyPullmann is also the author of "The Education Invasion: How Common Core Fights Parents for Control of American Kids," from Encounter Books.
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