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House Republicans Approve Parental School Oversight Bill

The House approved a bill on Friday geared toward parental oversight of schools, an issue that has become a mainstay of the Republican policy platform and a rallying cry ignited in recent years by COVID-19 policies that have since burgeoned beyond.

The legislation, dubbed the Parents Bill of Rights Act, would require schools to make available class curriculums, a list of books in the library and school budgets to parents, while mandating that schools notify parents of violent activity on school grounds. It would also require that teachers inform parents if they begin using different pronouns for a student or allow a child to change their “sex-based accommodations,” like bathrooms.

“Today was a win for every mother, every father, but most importantly, for every student in America,” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said after the vote, criticizing Democrats for opposing the legislation that they said was too extreme. “This is a win and a change for America.”

Cartoons on the Republican Party

The House approved the measure, which is unlikely to be considered in the Democrat-controlled Senate, 213-208 on Friday in a nearly party-line vote, with a handful of Republican detractors who joined Democrats in opposing it.

The vote came after a lengthy amendment consideration process. Among the amendments approved by lawmakers were two proposals from GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado concerning parental notification about transgender students in schools that would require schools to alert parents if a transgender student is allowed to participate in women’s sports or use a women’s restroom.

Opponents of the bill, including some Republicans, warned that it represents big government overreach that the party tends to oppose, while some Democrats also urged that the legislation puts politics over education, is an attack on teachers and would alienate LGBTQ kids.

“As an educator, I believe parent voices should be honored in schools – all educators believe this. But we know that this bill is not about that at all,” Rep. Frederica Wilson, the Florida Democrat, said. “This bill is nothing more than a talking point of the extreme MAGA agenda that will hurt children and hurt our schools.”

House Republicans made the Parents’ Bill of Rights a key part of their agenda heading into the midterm elections, as part of their “Commitment to America” ​​policy platform. The move came as the issue drew success for Republicans like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who has capitalized on an interest in parental oversight of schools amid parental frustration related to the COVID-19 pandemic to limit teaching on certain topics, like critical race theory or gender and sexuality.

Meanwhile, Democrats and the Biden administration have attempted to combat the GOP emphasis on parents’ rights by emphasizing their investment in resources for schools. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona wrote in an op-ed earlier this month that some of the administration’s opponents are “hiding behind the guise of ‘parents’ rights’ to try to defund public schools and take away critical resources in education,” which he argued would ultimately hurt students, schools and the economy.

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