(The Center Square) – A North Carolina think tank is proposing a Parents’ Bill of Rights to give parents more authority in their children’s education.
The proposal, released this week by the independent, nonprofit John Locke Foundation, is intended as a framework for legislation to codify parental rights in state statute, following similar efforts in several states sparked by simmering frustrations that came to a boil during the pandemic.
Across the country, parents have complained to public school boards over numerous issues in recent years, including controversial sex education lessons, sexualized school books, critical race theory in the curriculum, and political indoctrination in the classroom.
The coronavirus pandemic ignited even more tensions as parents revolted over public school closures, mask mandates and virtual board meetings that limited public input.
In North Carolina, a poll of likely voters conducted in January found 66.2% believe K-12 education in the Tar Heel State is on the “wrong track.”
“Many parents feel increasingly powerless over what their children are being exposed to in the classroom,” said Terry Stoops, director of the Center for Effective Education at the John Locke Foundation. “These feelings have been exacerbated by an increasingly radicalized curriculum and pandemic-era policies. Parents must be empowered to make educational decisions for their children, and should be able to expect full transparency from schools, teachers and administrative staff.”
To that end, the John Locke Foundation developed a bill of rights that ensures every parent has the right to: Direct their child’s physical, mental, and emotional health; direct how and where their child is educated; transparency with teachers and schools; a safe and nurturing classroom environment for their child; be actively engaged in their child’s education; and resources and accountability of school districts, administrators, and teachers.
“Parents are frustrated by what they see and don’t see going on in the classroom,” said Bob Luebke, senior fellow at the Center for Effective Education. “They are tired of being marginalized. Parents are standing up and reminding everyone of their right to control their child’s education and their commitment to working alongside teachers and administrators to give their children the best possible education.”
The proposal follows similar efforts introduced in numerous states last year, including Pennsylvania, Virginia, Arizona, Missouri, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Ohio, Minnesota, Wisconsin and others.
In states such as Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, Democrat governors have vetoed measures approved by Republican-controlled legislatures, while in states where Republicans control both branches of government, the measures have become law.
Governors who vetoed transparency and parental rights bills have cited costs to schools to comply and alleged nefarious motivations behind the legislation.
Opposition to the efforts to codify parental rights has primarily come from Democrats and teachers unions, which overwhelmingly support Democrats over Republicans.
The issue gained the national spotlight last year, when Glenn Youngkin highlighted parents’ frustrations with public schools to successfully win Virginia’s gubernatorial election.
More recently, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill last month to prohibit teachers from discussing sexual orientation or gender identity with students until at least fourth grade, despite opposition from LGBTQ activists. Florida’s bill — which was called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by opponents — also provided parents numerous other protections over their children’s education.
“Parents’ rights have been increasingly under assault around the nation, but in Florida we stand up for the rights of parents and the fundamental role they play in the education of their children,” DeSantis said. “Parents have every right to be informed about services offered to their child at school, and should be protected from schools using classroom instruction to sexualize their kids as young as 5 years old.”