As education and civil rights organizations working to ensure that our students are learning, feel safe and respected at school, and have the supports they and their families need to succeed, we are deeply concerned about the Parents Bill of Rights Act that recently moved out of the Education and Workforce Committee.
This legislation, like similar bills around the country banning books or censoring curriculum and textbooks, is divisive and designed to politicize our schools rather than provide what parents really want – a great education for their children.
In addition to enabling book bans and curriculum censorship, the bill is redundant and out of sync with what parents desire. Provisions in the bill allowing a parent to demand inspections of schools and veto school budget decisions are designed to disrupt teachers’ ability to teach students, and hinder school administrators’ ability to run safe and welcoming schools. The bill would also require the federal government to mandate the number of times teachers and parents can meet – something nearly all districts across the country establish through locally-determined policies.
Moreover, recent polling indicates that these are not top priorities for parents; parents want policies that keep their children safe from violence at schools and ensure adequate mental health supports for them. Federal law should – and already does – require that parents receive information on what their kids are learning, how they are achieving, and on the qualifications of their child’s teachers.
We are supportive of a broader view of the rights of parents and students: the right to have access to fully-resourced schools, prepared and qualified teachers, safe and respectful places for students to learn, and the supports to make sure all students can thrive. The ability of our nation’s education system to provide these essential requirements should be the primary focus of Congress. We have supported bipartisan efforts over the years to help achieve these goals, including the funding of the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund to provide schools with the resources to safely reopen and to help students get back on track after the disruption and loss caused by the pandemic, and more resources for mental health needs through the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.
We urge this Congress to focus on efforts to support our students, parents, and teachers, and to stop using parents as a decoy to launch political attacks on our schools.
Center for American Progress
Education Reform Now
National Center for Learning Disabilities
The Education Trust