March 29, 2023

Hayes Brown: The GOP’s ‘Parents Bill of Rights’ excludes millions of parents

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Writing for MSNBC, opinions editor Hayes Brown points out that the GOP bill secures the rights of only some parents and sets the stage for bullying of teachers.

The legislation isn’t a complete nightmare. Some parts of it make sense and could have easily been a bipartisan effort, including a requirement that parents be notified when violence occurs on school grounds and a ban on schools selling student data for commercial purposes. The bulk of it, though, was drafted as a blueprint for the harassment of teachers, administrators and school boards that has escalated over the past three years.

Those confrontations have been part of a supposedly grassroots movement from parents who believe that schools have gone too far in their liberalism. Often it turns out that whatever concerns are being expressed — Covid mitigation in classrooms, teachers pushing “critical race theory,” or pro-LGBTQ materials “grooming” students” — are getting amplified and coordinated through groups that just happen to be filled with Republican operatives. Accordingly, no matter the actual topic, the volume of their shouting has become fodder for a broader political strategy from Republicans.

Hayes points out that calls for transparency serve a particular agenda, and “are at the center of the rhetoric behind blocking trans kids in sports, banning books in school libraries and anything else that makes conservatives uncomfortable.”

It’s easy to see how the Parents Bill of Rights fits into that broader agenda. Taken together, if enacted, the bill would force schools to provide fodder for astroturf groups to then pressure those schools more effectively.

The many nuisance features of the bill are trouble enough (how much pointless paperwork can you subject your local district to). But there’s another notable feature–an omission from the law.

While the bill will not become law anytime soon, it highlights how narrowly the GOP views which parents should have their rights respected in schools. Nowhere is there anything about the right of parents of LGBTQ students to have their children’s’ pronouns respected. Nowhere is there any protection of teachers against retribution for teaching minority students the truth about their past.

Read the full piece here. 

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