The U.S. House passed the Parents Bill of Rights Act Friday, with most House Republicans voting in favor of the bill that would require school districts to give parents access to their children’s curricula and reading lists to inform parents of any violence occurring on campus, and to notify parents if their child is sharing a bathroom or locker room with a student of the opposite biological sex.
The measure passed by a vote of 213-208, with five Republicans voting no. Representatives Mike Lawler (R-NY-17); Andy Biggs (R-AZ-05); Matt Gaetz (R-FL-01); Ken Buck (R-CO-04); and Matt Rosendale (R-MT-02) all voted against the legislation.
The @HouseGOP just passed the Parents’ Bill of Rights!
Parents should 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.
— GOP (@GOP) March 24, 2023
Promise made! Promise kept!@SpeakerMcCarthy: “Today was a win for every mother, every father, but most importantly, for every student in America. You have a Parents’ Bill of Rights now, but unfortunately the Democrats are too extreme to believe that parents should have a say." pic.twitter.com/N8NhaHgp6W
— GOP (@GOP) March 24, 2023
Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA-20) proudly announced the passage of the bill by House Republicans, observing Democrats thought each parents’ “right” named in the measure was “too extreme.”
But three Republicans who voted against it explained their “no” votes.
In Biggs’ podcast titled “What’s the Biggs Idea,” the Arizona congressman called the Parents Bill of Rights a “political statement bill.”
Biggs’ guest, The Blaze’s Daniel Horowitz, agreed with the congressman that Republicans should expend more effort on defunding programs that promote woke education, CRT, and LGBTQ agendas at the federal level, while red states work to figure out how to extricate themselves from the federal department of education.
“What they should be doing is defunding and statutorily barring all of the federal transgender programs, extirpating any mention of that licentious, disgusting grooming agenda,” Horowitz urged.
“First of all, there’s nothing in the Constitution that permits the federal government to weigh in on education issues,” Biggs observed, adding that, with the Parents Bill of Rights Act, Republicans are actually adding “legitimacy to keeping the Department of Education.”
“When you have a bill like this that first of all, it didn’t do anything, but, basically, you’re operating within this warped system, and the warped system is the Department of Education itself,” he stressed, noting that such legislation “actually makes leaving the path more difficult.”
“In my opinion, we need to leave the path,” Biggs asserted. “That’s why I’ve sponsored and others have co-sponsored bills to get us out of the Department of Education.”
In an op-ed at The Washington Times Thursday, Buck explained similar reasons for his opposition to the Parents Bill of Rights.
Read my full op-ed in the @WashTimes here: https://t.co/t8RcxJVjXi
— Rep. Ken Buck (@RepKenBuck) March 23, 2023
Parents, he wrote, have been taking action against Critical Race Theory (CRT), forced gender ideology, and sexually-charged books in school libraries at the local level.
“Congressional Republicans have a response for these parents: ‘Let’s allow the federal government to take it from here,’” the Colorado congressman stated and continued:
Republicans, newly in charge of the House of Representatives, have decided to weigh in with what they call a Parents Bill of Rights, which will get a vote on the floor on Friday. The bill includes many worthy initiatives for parents to pursue, including setting bathroom gender policies and allowing parents more access to their children’s curriculum.
The measure has a fatal flaw, however. While seemingly reinforcing parents’ rights, it undermines the critical principle for conservatives: federalism, the bedrock of our liberty.
The federal government has limited powers, according to the Constitution, Buck said, and education is not one of them.
“My fellow Republicans in the House, confusing themselves with a national school board, believe the federal government should step in to protect parents,” he wrote, and then noted some “implications,” most of which emphasize that those things a GOP-led House can mandate in federal education law can easily be taken away or modified in a future Democrat-led House.
“While parents are fighting locally for more control in their children’s education, Republicans in the House are fighting for more control in Washington,” Buck explained. “The proposed legislation, if enacted, would take local control and parents’ discretion out of so many aspects of education — and, more alarmingly, pave the way for Democrats to use these new federal powers over education to advance a woke agenda.”
“More authority for parents in their children’s education is essential and should be the goal of every parent, every conservative and every local government,” the Colorado representative asserted. “But expanding the federal government’s authority to usurp local control of education is the wrong way to achieve our goals.”
Gaetz expressed the same perspective when he posted why he voted against the Parents Bill of Rights Act on Twitter.
From Wokeness to funding to bathrooms to Critical Race Theory, the federal government SHOULD NOT be involved in education.
I don't want to strengthen the federal Department of Education. I want to abolish it.
I don't want Congress more involved in decisions that are best made…
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) March 24, 2023
“From Wokeness to funding to bathrooms to Critical Race Theory, the federal government SHOULD NOT be involved in education,” the Florida congressman tweeted Friday. “I don’t want to strengthen the federal Department of Education. I want to abolish it. I don’t want Congress more involved in decisions that are best made in local school districts. I want the Congress less involved. Therefore, I voted against today’s Republican bill to establish a federal ‘Parents Bill of Rights.’”
The bill is considered unlikely to pass in the Democrat-controlled Senate.
Not all parental rights groups are on board with the Parents Bill of Rights Act either.
Sheri Few, founder and president of United States Parents Involved in Education (USPIE), wrote last week at American Thinker the legislation “sounds promising, but its premise is dangerous.”
Few asserted that despite good intentions from leaders like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), “any parental rights legislation is flawed at its inception, suggesting that parents’ rights are determined by government rather than the fundamental, inalienable rights of parents afforded by their Creator.”
— USPIE (@StopFedEd) March 21, 2023
Explaining further, she observed:
If parental rights laws are passed, the point of debate becomes the content and context of that law, not the fundamental right. We could end up arguing whether or not a school counselor has the right to assist children in accessing medical “treatment” like gender transitioning drugs and surgeries, based on some loophole in the new law. Fundamental, inalienable rights do not have loopholes.
USPIE’s goal, Few noted, is “to close the U.S. Department of Education and end all federal education mandates.”
“This is the mission because we understand that nefarious pedagogies originate and are pushed onto states by federal agencies incentivized with federal dollars,” she said.
“Federal parental rights legislation creates more federal education mandates,” Few observed. “This is a step in the wrong direction if our goal is to restore parental and local control of education.”
– – –
Susan Berry, PhD, is national education editor at The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Andy Biggs” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0. Photo “Matt Gaetz” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0. Photo “Ken Buck” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0. Background Photo “Classroom” by Wokandapix.