(WASHINGTON, D.C.) — In response to a Republican bill to boost parents’ rights in the classroom, Democrats are out with a proposal they say will advance an “inclusive, aspirational, and affirmative vision for public education.”
The Bill of Rights for Students and Parents, unveiled by Oregon Rep. Suzanne Bonamici on Friday, calls for well-rounded education “rooted in evidence-based practices” to support teachers, students and families.
“It serves as a direct contrast to recent proposals that are unproductive, burdensome, and pit parents against educators,” her office said in a news release. According to a spokesperson for Bonamici, who is the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education, she has been working on the legislation for more than a month.
The opposing bills signify the growing debate over the role of parents in schools, with education becoming a politically-charged issue after the coronavirus pandemic upended classrooms and increased scrutiny of school leadership.
A summary of the Democrats’ bill said it prioritizes “authentic” collaboration between parents and educators, protecting students’ civil rights and providing children with “historically accurate” instruction to prepare them to participate in representative democracy.
It has the backing of dozens of advocacy groups like the NAACP, the National Parents Union and the National Parent Teacher Association, plus 27 Democratic co-sponsors.
Bonamici’s bill was released after the Education and the Workforce Committee held a grueling 16-hour markup on the Republican version earlier this week, which included 45 amendments.
The Republican bill would require parents to be provided with a list of books and reading materials available in the school library, and that they be notified of violent activity occurring on school grounds or at school-sponsored events. It also would mandate parental consent before medical exams, including those for mental health or substance use disorder, take place at school.
Schools would also be required to publicly post their curriculum and district budgets, and notify parents of revisions to state education standards.
House Republican leaders said they expect their measure to pass later this year. It already has support from more than 70 members.
After rolling out the legislation at an event on Capitol Hill on March 1, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy told ABC News he “couldn’t imagine someone would oppose a Parents Bill of Rights.”
“Parent gets to guarantee[d] to know what their children are being taught, parent gets to know what their money is being spent on. … More importantly, the parents get to know if there is any activity on campus that could harm their child or not,” he said.
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