McCarthy Introduces Federal ‘Parents Bill Of Rights’

House Republicans have introduced a “Parents Bill of Rights” to fulfill a midterm election campaign promise to Americans. The bill is designed to give parents greater involvement in their children’s public school curriculum. Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) introduced the bill at a press conference on Capitol Hill, flanked by dozens of parents and young children. The legislation is the first bill personally introduced by the Speaker, reflecting the issue’s importance to the GOP agenda.

The legislation is based on five key elements that will empower parents and remove government officials from their relationship with their children:

  • The right to know what’s being taught in school,
  • The right for parents to be heard,
  • The right to see the school budget,
  • The right to protect their child’s privacy, and
  • The right to be updated on any violent activity at the school.

Republicans hope to capitalize on parents’ frustration with schools, which reached a boiling point during the pandemic when education officials imposed masking requirements, school closures and remote learning for children. The issue gained traction after Republican Glenn Youngkin unexpectedly won Virginia’s race for governor in 2021 with his slogan “Parents matter.”

The national GOP went on to embrace the popular message, with conservative political action committees funneling millions of dollars to school board races.

The new federal bill is being introduced as the House Judiciary Committee investigates the Justice Department (DOJ) and Department of Education for mistreatment of parents who have protested “woke” school board policies.

The GOP-led investigation focuses on a letter from the National School Boards Association. The investigation has identified dozens of instances of threats, harassment and acts of intimidation in multiple states nationwide.

Democrats and teachers’ unions argue the new GOP bill amounts to an overreach that will harm educators. For example, the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers union, stated: “McCarthy would rather seek 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.”

McCarthy’s proposal follows several state bills seeking to expand parental rights in schools and protecting vulnerable children. For example, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed a parental rights bill into law in 2022 that banned teachers from teaching “sexual orientation” or “gender identity” in kindergarten through third grade.