Committee chaired by NC’s Viginia Foxx advances another bill in the conservative culture war agenda
WASHINGTON —- A national “Parents Bill of Rights” is headed for a full U.S. House vote after the House Committee on Education and the Workforce early Thursday approved the measure designed to empower parents to inspect books and other teaching materials in schools.
Lawmakers on the committee debated the GOP-backed bill that would federally mandate parents’ rights and new reporting requirements at the tens of thousands of public schools across the nation.
Critics argue many of the proposed rights are already ensured by local and state law — for example, a parent’s right to view a school’s budget or speak at a public school board meeting.
After a 16-hour markup — that also included debate and passage of a separate bill to regulate transgender girl athletes in schools — the panel approved the legislation in a party-line vote, 25-17.
“Parents nurture our future engineers, pilots, electricians, full time parents and, even, public-school employees. Unfortunately, their God-given right to make decisions for their children has been ignored, and at times, attacked. So, Republicans are taking a stand and advancing H.R. 5,” Committee Chair Virginia Foxx, a North Carolina Republican, said in her opening remarks.
Ranking member Bobby Scott, of Virginia, criticized the legislation, saying it “does not take any meaningful steps to increase or support parental engagement” and “would create unnecessary and burdensome reporting requirements on schools that would divert essential resources and personnel away from meeting families’ real needs without actually creating any new rights.”
H.R. 5, or the Parents Bill of Rights Act, aims to amend existing federal education laws to codify parents’ and guardians’ access to school curricula, library books and other materials, give parents advance notice prior to medical or mental health screenings, and mandate a standard number of parent-teacher meetings.
House Majority Leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana said Wednesday the bill could reach the House floor as soon as March 20, where a GOP majority is expected to pass it. The bill has garnered 106 Republican sponsors.
The bill’s forecast is less favorable in the U.S. Senate, where Democrats hold a slim majority. Read more