Even if National Parents Bill of Rights fails, should K12 leaders worry?

To many K12 leaders, the phrase "Parents Bill of Rights" has become synonymous with a loss of control over what is taught in their classrooms.

To many K12 leaders, the phrase “Parents Bill of Rights” has become synonymous with a loss of control over what is taught in their classrooms and how students are supported. And while many of these new laws and pieces of legislation are having the biggest impacts in red states, U.S. House Republicans have just proposed a national Parents Bill of Rights.

Rep. Julia Letlow,
Rep. Julia Letlow

So, should superintendents and their teams actually fear a loss of decision-making power? Well, there’s a difference in tone between the sponsor’s conciliatory description of the bill and the more antagonistic language used by the House committee that will be the first to review the proposal.

“As a mom of two and a former educator, I believe for a child to succeed, they need families and schools to work together as partners throughout the learning process,” Rep. Julia Letlow, a Louisiana Republican and the bill’s sponsor, said in a statement. Tetlow is also a former college administrator.

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Here’s how the House Committee on Education and the Workforce describes the need for the bill: “Parents have a God-given right to make decisions for their children. Unfortunately, many school districts have been ignoring the wishes of parents while special interest groups try to criminalize free speech.”

NEA President Becky Pringle accused House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Republicans of trying “to stoke racial and social division and distract us from what will really help our students thrive: an inspiring, inclusive and age-appropriate curriculum that prepares each and every one of them for their future.”

“Parents and voters agree that elected leaders should be focused on getting students the individualized support they need, keeping guns out of schools, and addressing educator shortages,” Pringle said in a statement. “But sadly, McCarthy would rather empower politicians who want to ban books and drive passionate educators out of the profession,

What the national Parents Bill of Rights proposes

The National Parents Bill of Rights, which has more than 70 co-sponsors, is not likely to survive the Democrat-controlled Senate or, even if it does, get President Joe Biden’s signature. However, it could be a sign of things to come should Republicans win the White House or retake control of Congress. A parents’ bill of rights proposed by Sen. Josh Hawley, a Republican, failed in 2021.

In detailing her bill’s five main goals, Letlow says parents have the right to:

  1. Know what their children are being taught
  2. Be heard
  3. See the school budget and spending
  4. Protect their child’s privacy
  5. Keep their children safe

Many district and building leaders would like already guarantee that parents enjoy all these rights. School budgets are, of course, public documents, and districts follow state and federal laws around student privacy. And all stakeholders have long had the right to express their concerns at public school meetings though some parents had not exercised those rights before the political turmoil of the pandemic.

Parents Bill of RightsRepublicans have long advocated for local control of school districts and pushed to eliminate the U.S. Department of Education. But H.R. 6056, as the Parents Bill of Rights is officially known, would codify a range of requirements on districts when it comes to publicizing curricula, meeting with parents, and other activities.

Again, many K12 leaders would likely maintain that many of these steps are already being taken in their districts, such as posting curriculum information publicly, disclosing district and school budgets with all revenues and expenditures, allowing parents to speak at school board meetings, and respecting families rights to free speech in having a say in their children’s education. 

The bill would also bar schools from sharing student data with tech companies and the use of that data for commercial purposes. Potentially new mandates in the bill pertain to library books, student surveys and on-campus violence, including:

  • Parents must be given timely notice of any plan to eliminate gifted and talented programs.
  • Schools must provide parents with a list of books and reading materials available in the school library.
  • Parents must consent before any medical exam takes place at school, including mental health or substance use disorder screenings, before students are surveyed.
  • Schools must notify parents of violent activity occurring on school grounds or at school-sponsored events while still protecting the privacy of the students involved in the incident.


Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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