House Republicans next week will pass legislation that gives parents the right to know what their kids are learning at school and the right to discuss education standards at school board meetings.
The Parents Bill of Rights Act is a response to growing anger across the country about access to information on everything from school curricula to safety and mask policies to the prevalence of gender ideology and critical race theory in the classroom.
In 2021, after a series of school board meetings in which angry parents were seen protesting various school policies, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) wrote a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland that suggested angry threats against school officials might be seen as “a form of domestic terrorism.” That prompted Garland to release a memo in late 2021 that said the FBI would meet with law enforcement leaders to address the “disturbing trend” of violent threats against school officials.
The memo drew complaints across the country from Republicans who said Garland was looking to silence parents who have legitimate complaints about how their schools are run, and evidence surfaced later that President Biden’s secretary of education pushed the NSBA to write its letter to Garland. The Parents Bill of Rights Act is the first chance congressional Republicans have had to take on this issue.
“For too long, parents were kept in the dark about what was happening in the classroom,” House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., said last week after her committee approved the bill.
“When kitchen tables became classrooms and parents spoke out about what was actually being taught, they were silenced or ignored by teachers unions and education bureaucrats; the Secretary of Education even solicited a letter to brand these parents as domestic terrorists,” Foxx continued.
“That kind of insanity ends with this bill,” she said. “Parents will finally be empowered to examine classroom curricula and protect the safety and privacy of their children without fear of being targeted by the federal government.”
The vote is likely to put Democrats in the uncomfortable position of arguing against the right of parents to have a say in school policies — a position many say is what gave Republican Glenn Youngkin the edge over his Democrat opponent in the 2021 Virginia governor’s race.
In the Education and the Workforce Committee last week, not a single Democrat voted for the bill, and every Republican voted to approve it.
But Republicans say the bill isn’t meant to be a partisan shot, and is instead aimed at giving parents the rights they deserve, something that members of both parties should support.
“Despite what you may hear from some, this is not a bill that should be partisan or polarizing,” bill sponsor Rep. Julia Letlow, R-La., told Fox News Digital. “It is not an attack on hardworking teachers, or an attempt to have Congress dictate curriculum. It is about transparency and accountability. It is a bill that provides protections to parents and ensures that a child’s education is always built on a meaningful dialog between families and educators.”
Under the bill, school districts would be required to post curriculum information publicly, give parents notice if there are plans to eliminate gifted and talented programs for kids, and give parents a list of all books available to students at the school.
The bill says schools must ensure parents have access to information about violent activity taking place at school, and budget information, including how the money comes in and how it is spent. It specifically ensures parents have a right to speak at school board meetings and says it is the sense of Congress that school districts “should welcome and encourage that engagement and consider that feedback when making decisions.”
The bill also includes language aimed at preventing schools from sharing student data with tech companies without getting permission from parents, or selling that data.
House Republicans will allow lawmakers to call up amendments to the bill next week. GOP leaders at the House Rules Committee gave members until March 16 to propose an amendment, and the bill is expected to be on the House floor next week.