Over the past few years, there has an alarming trend of parents being forcibly shut out of their children’s education by certain school districts.
I’ve recognized the urgency of correcting this issue.
Parents are the people primarily responsible for directing their children’s education and they have rights.
That’s why I voted in favor of H.R. 5, the Parents Bill of Rights Act, which passed the House of Representatives in a 213-208 vote. The legislation makes clear the rights of parents!
It also makes clear to schools their duty to parents and the limits to their authority when parents are making decisions for their children.
This legislation is critical for our families.
There has been a rise in divisive ideology, like critical race theory, and sexually explicit information being taught in our schools, many times without the approval of parents.
While it may take a village to give a child a well-rounded raising, it does not give the village a right to inculcate children with a world view in opposition to parental wishes.
One democratic lawmaker recently said that if parents haven’t completed their own high school education, they are unqualified to make education decisions for their children.
What an alarming, inappropriate, and classist sentiment. Parents have every right to decide if controversial information is to be taught to their children and at what age. Parents and/or legal guardians make medical decisions for their children every day without formal medical training, obviously they can make decisions on their children’s education.
Speaking of medical decisions, some schools have even gone so far as to shut parents out of decisions relating to their children’s health care and safety, ones that have life-long consequences. This is unacceptable.
Further, following the outbreak of COVID-19, school administrators made the decision to close many of our country’s schools, moving them online. These school closures dragged on and parents objected. It was to the detriment of our children.
According to the Institute of Education Sciences, roughly half of America’s students began the 2022 school year behind in at least one subject, 13% higher than the national average in a typical year prior to COVID-19.
There has also been a sharp rise in depression and anxiety in children from extended lockdowns and forced remote learning. In 2021 and 2022, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Children’s Hospital Association, declared a “national state of emergency” in response to this troubling trend.
Many parents have understandably become upset by the way certain school systems have handled these issues, voicing their concerns at school board meetings.
Even this has been met with resistance.
In October 2021, the National School Boards Association called on President Joe Biden to use federal agencies to stop “threats and acts of violence” on school officials during school board meetings. Accordingly, Biden’s Attorney General Merrick Garland instructed to the FBI to investigate. Following, the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division created a “threat tag,” equating concerned parents to domestic terrorists. Outrageous!
Congress needed to act.
H.R. 5 recognizes and restores parents’ rights through five pillars: the right to know what’s being taught in schools and to see reading material; the right to be heard; the right to see school budget and spending; the right to protect their child’s privacy; and the right to be updated on any violent activity at school.
During the consideration of H.R. 5, I voted for an amendment for a Sense of Congress that the U.S. Department of Education eventually should be eliminated.
I believe taxpayer money is mostly wasted on bureaucrats in the Department of Education. In FY 2021 alone, they spent over $2.4 Billion on “salaries and expenses.” This money should be redirected to local schools.
In eliminating the Department, we can put in place protections to ensure existing education funding is dispersed appropriately around the country, through the states, while also maintaining protections for students.
Among these protections is ensuring that Title I funding remains, which provides critical funding for economically disadvantaged students, and for programs like free lunch and reduced lunch at schools.
Additionally, we must maintain protections for our physically and mentally impaired children under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
These changes, and this bill, will create better options for students and parents.