As teachers’ unions and much of the education establishment bitterly oppose curriculum transparency bills, many lawmakers are actually stepping up to promote parents’ rights. At least 12 state legislatures are contemplating laws that put public school curricula squarely in front of parents.
Last month, the American Civil Liberties Union tweeted its opposition to parents’ rights bills and transparency clauses, suggesting the bills are “thinly veiled attempts at chilling teachers and students from learning and talking about race and gender in schools.” The tweet ignited broad controversy, only further inspiring lawmakers to act on parents’ behalf.
If transparency bills are passed into law, parents would be able to access teaching materials online – which many parents are indeed demanding in the face of controversial classroom lessons and discussions on gender and race. Articles, books, and other teaching materials would be accessible online. Parents could then opt-out their children if a topic contradicts their values.
Missouri House Bill 1995, sponsored by Rep. Doug Richey, R-Excelsior Springs, is dubbed “The Parents’ Bill of Rights.” According to Richey, the bill is about trust. Under the bill, parents would have the right to view attendance records, standardized test scores, and course content. The bill also would allow parents to file formal complaints about curricula to school supervisors. Parents also could sue schools if the bill’s provisions were violated.
Last October, as such bills were surfacing, Philadelphia Federation of Teachers President Jerry Jordan said, “The shameful truth of racism, both historically and today, must be taught. And as a society we must not just teach it, but do all we can to collectively dismantle the systems that have long failed Black and brown people.” But conservatives question the methodology and the orthodoxy of what’s being taught, and whether it’s unnecessarily divisive.
Parent choice advocates have been locking arms with the state lawmakers proposing these bills. Craig Strazzeri, chief marketing officer of PragerU, wrote in a statement to Fox News, “It’s insane that there is any opposition at all to curriculum transparency in schools. Of course parents should be able to review in detail what their children are learning in our schools. What are they hiding?”
Added the executive director of Fight For Schools, a parents’ rights group in Virginia: “The far left went from saying that there is no critical race theory or gender identity grooming in schools, to now trying to hide what is going on in schools.”
The fight for school transparency and parental involvement may rest on the fate of these bills.