As equity-minded education, civil rights, and immigration organizations, we work to ensure that our nation’s students are learning, feel safe and respected at school, and have the supports they and their families need to succeed. As such, we are deeply concerned about the Parents Bill of Rights Act (HR 5) recently introduced in the House of Representatives. This legislation, like similar bills in a growing number of states that ban books or censor curriculum and textbooks, is divisive and designed to politicize our schools rather than provide what parents really want: a great education for their children.
In addition to enabling book bans and curriculum censorship, the bill is redundant and out of sync with what parents want. Provisions in the bill that allow a parent to demand inspections of schools and school budgets are designed to disrupt teachers’ ability to teach students, and hinder school administrators’ ability to run safe and welcoming schools. The bill also inserts the federal government to help determine the frequency of parent-teacher conferences—something nearly all school districts across the country establish through locally determined policies. Moreover, recent polling indicates that the top priorities for parents are not these wedge issues; rather they want to keep their children safe from violence at schools, ensure adequate mental health supports for them, and help in their learning recovery. Federal law should—and already does—require that parents receive information on what their kids are learning, how they are achieving, and on the qualifications of their child’s teachers.
We support and encourage a broader view of the rights of parents and students: the right to have access to fully-resourced schools, prepared and qualified teachers, safe and welcoming places for students to learn, and the supports to make sure all students can thrive. The ability of the U.S. education system to provide these essential requirements should be the primary focus of Congress. We have supported bipartisan efforts over the years to help achieve these goals, including the funding of the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund to provide schools with the resources to safely reopen and to help students get back on track after the disruption and loss caused by the pandemic, and additional resources for mental health needs through the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. We urge this Congress to focus on real and meaningful efforts to truly support our students, parents, and teachers—and to stop using parents as a decoy to launch political attacks on our schools.
Center for American Progress
Education Reform Now
National Center for Learning Disabilities
The Education Trust
National Urban League