Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) reintroduced the “Parents Bill of Rights Act,” arguing that the government must stay out of children’s education.
In 2021, Sen. Josh Hawley introduced a similar bill that failed to advance in the previous Congress.
“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 in introducing the bill at an event on Capitol Hill.
He was joined by other House Republicans, including House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-NY) and Rep. Julia Letlow (R-LA).
The bill has “five pillars” upon its basis: “the right to know what’s being taught in the school”; for parents to be heard; “the right to see the school budgets”; “the right to protect your child’s privacy” and “the right to be updated on any violent activity at the school.”
EVERY parent deserves:
•The right to know what’s being taught in schools & see reading materials.
•The right to be heard.
•The right to see school budgets & spending.
•The right to protect your child’s privacy.
•The right to be updated on any violent activity at school. pic.twitter.com/3lFFkqvLeS
— Kevin McCarthy (@SpeakerMcCarthy) March 1, 2023
According to Letlow’s breakdown of the bill, school districts would need to post curriculum information, require states to provide copies of revisions to state education standards, and provide parents with a list of books and reading materials available in school libraries.
In his remarks, McCarthy mentioned that parents were attacked and defamed for attending school board meetings.
Furthermore, Stefanik emphasized that she, as a mother, is “proud to be standing up for families, but most importantly for kids across” the U.S.
On Oct. 4, 2021, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the creation of a “task force,” determining ways to end “violence” against school board members.
“Threats against public servants are not only illegal, they run counter to our nation’s core values,” Attorney General Merrick Garland wrote at the time.
The memo came days after the National School Boards Association (NSBA) sent a letter to President Joe Biden comparing parental protests to domestic terrorism.
Garland testified before the House Judiciary Committee later that month, saying that the department would not infringe on parents’ First Amendment rights and would not use anti-terrorism laws against them.
“I want to be clear, the Justice Department supports and defends the First Amendment right of parents to complain as vociferously as they wish about the education of their children, about the curriculum taught in their schools,” Garland said at the time.
Yet In May 2022, House Republicans sent a letter to Garland, citing that the FBI opened investigations into parents using the “EDUOFFICIALS” threat tag.
“We now have evidence that contrary to your testimony, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has labeled at least dozens of investigations into parents with a threat tag created by the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division to assess and track investigations related to school boards,” the letter stated.
Republicans accused Garland of lying under oath when he claimed that school parents were not threats.
In 2022, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed the “Parents Rights In Education” bill, banning teachers from teaching sensitive topics to students in grades K-3.
If passed, the “Parents Bill of Rights Act” will allow parents to dictate their children’s education, not the government.