The Republican-led House, under House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) leadership, passed the Parents Bill of Rights Friday, sending it to the Democrat-controlled Senate, where it has an uncertain future.
House Republicans originally announced the proposed legislation, which would provide more curriculum transparency for parents, giving them greater say in their children’s education, weeks ago.
“That’s what today is all about: It’s about every parent, mom and dad, but most importantly about the students in America,” McCarthy said as he introduced the measure, described as a bill to “ensure the rights of parents are honored and protected in the Nation’s public schools.”
An announcement from McCarthy’s office describes the central tenets of the bill, giving parents the:
- Right to know what’s being taught in schools and to see reading material
- Right to be heard
- Right to see school budget and spending
- Right to protect their child’s privacy
- Right to be updated on any violent activity at school
The House ultimately passed the measure 213-208 on Friday. Five Republicans joined the Democrats, who voted against the measure:
5 House Republicans voted against their party's "Parents Bill of Rights" (HR 5), one of the GOP's top legislative priorities for this 118th Congress:
— Craig Caplan (@CraigCaplan) March 24, 2023
“This bill is not complex or complicated,” the bill’s sponsor Rep. Julia Letlow (R-LA) stated, explaining that the bill should not be “partisan or polarizing.”
“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,” she said.
“It is not an attempt to have Congress dictate their curriculum, or determine the books in the library,” the congresswoman added, explaining that the bill “aims to bring more transparency and accountability to education, allowing parents to be informed and when they have questions and concerns to lawfully bring them to their local school boards.”
McCarthy also spoke on the House floor Friday in favor of the legislation.
“We believe parents should be able to know what your children are learning, know [how] your tax dollars are being spent, and whether your child is safe in school,” he said. “And that’s exactly what the Parents Bill of Rights does.”
McCarthy laid out the central tenets of the bill, explaining, “No one is arguing that parents should dictate what is being taught, but parents should be able to see their school’s curriculum, publicly know what books are in the library, and get timely notice about any plans to eliminate gifted and talented programs.”
Parents should also be able to be respected in school board meetings and not be deemed “domestic terrorists” by President Biden’s DOJ, he continued.
“Parents should be able to control how any third party uses their children’s personal data,” he continued, adding that parents have a right to know if there is violence in schools as well.
“You have a right to get the basic information about your children’s education… the Parents Bill of Rights is an important step towards protecting children and dramatically strengthening the rights of parents,” he added.
The measure comes as some states are taking action to empower parents at the state level, with Florida standing as a prime example via the Parental Rights in Education bill signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis nearly one year ago.
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