Vanessa Hall: Exercise your Rights, Parents!
Writing at 4 Public Education, Vanessa Hall breaks down the Parental Rights bill passed by the House GOP. Yes, it plays to the culture wars and redundantly codifies rights parents already have. But there’s more to it.
This bill involves unfunded mandates and high administrative burden for public schools that would pull even more funding directly from student education. The Education Department has criticized the bill, stating that:
“[I]t’s not rooted in the reality that parents are living in….[this bill is part of a] “political agenda, [where] Republican officials are focused more on playing politics than helping our parents, kids and schools.”
Additionally, the bill clearly puts LGBTQIA students at risk, includes components of the highly unpopular Youngkin’s model policies, a revision of a previous model policy, that would if passed require informing parents of any name or pronoun change requested by a student, thereby outing a student before they may be ready, despite overwhelming evidence that respecting pronouns makes student safety a priority. Also, this bill breaks the privacy rules of other students. Specifically it requires schools to inform all parents if a student who is trans or nonbinary attends the school and/or is participating in athletics. Thus, it tramples on the core civil rights of students and their families.
Add to this the unfunded mandates to screen and publicize everything the school does.
In any education setting, there are multiple stakeholders, including students, parents, and educators. The idea that a bill has been presented to support the rights of one group over all the others is concerning, particularly when one considers that parents are not the ones being educated, nor are they the ones doing the educating. A bill for one group over all others is both unequal and inappropriate. Based on the concept that students are also stakeholders in their own education, Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici introduced a Bill of Rights for Students and Parents that serves:
“[A]s a blueprint for public education rooted in evidence-based practices that support teaching, learning, and family engagement….[in] direct contrast to recent proposals that are unproductive, burdensome, and pit parents against educators.”
If one looks at the extensive requirements imposed on school systems, it is clear that this bill intends to regulate public schools out of existence under the guise of “parent’s rights” while giving private schools a complete pass at being accountable or transparent to their parents and guardians. The administrative costs alone would suck funds directly from supporting student success, while the bill itself violates the rights of parents and students across the country.