WHAT'S SO WRONG ABOUT A SO-CALLED "PARENTS' BILL OF RIGHTS?"
Throughout the nation, a well-funded and highly coordinated effort to strip away the ability of educators to teach honestly is underway. Promoting legislation born from this campaign as the “teacher censorship, anti-diversity, anti-safety and sue to punish schools” act would certainly not be an effective way to gain support, but it would be the truth. Instead- like so many recent efforts to fool the public- this bill is called a “Parents’ Bill of Rights.”
Perhaps that’s why the only supporters of this legislation during hearings in both the Kansas House and Senate were ultra-conservative policy promoters from other states like Arizona. In truth, not a single Kansas parent offered testimony in support. Dozens of organizations and Kansas citizens including public school parents and students rose in opposition of the bill. So, as seems to be the way with our legislature, Kansans (both citizens and educators) are ignored while partisan special-interests are given the red-carpet treatment when it comes to education policy.
So, what’s wrong with the so-called “Parents Bill of Rights?”
1. Educators support and value communication with the parents of their students. Daily emails, online real-time student progress reports, phone calls, conferences, curriculum nights, hand-written notes in student planners, meetings with school officials, school board meetings, and parent advisory councils are just a few of the many AUTHENTIC ways that parents can engage and get involved in their child’s education. Requiring educators to post everything they teach, plan to teach, or even trainings they participate in requires educators to duplicate work rather than focus on students. It puts a digital barrier between the parent and teacher.
But, perhaps the real effort here is best understood if we listen to the words of the House K-12 Education Budget Chair, Kristy Williams. During a hearing on this subject, Williams raised concerns that parents must login and use a password to gain access to information about their child’s education. Putting aside the privacy concerns that her criticism elicits, we must ask why the current mechanisms and efforts to ensure privacy are not sufficient. Allowing the same partisan interests unfettered access to everything is simply an effort to make it easier to cherry-pick lessons and take out-of-context anything related to diversity education or anything else that ultra-conservatives object to.
2. Parents can already opt-out their children from specific lessons that they find objectionable. This bill moves leaps and bounds further towards outright censorship. It’s not enough that parents can opt-out their child, this bill seeks to ban materials for all children as it allows for the challenging and ultimate removal of any material an individual parent finds objectionable for their child. There are already mechanisms to challenge materials and policies to restrict materials when needed.
3. This bill specifically calls for the right of parents to direct their child’s education and care. If a parent doesn’t like a grade; parents can intervene and direct the education of their child. If you don’t like the playground rules, direct the education of your child under different rules. If you don’t believe in vaccines of any kind, direct the care of your child and opt-out of all vaccines. But, what about the children who are at-risk from those who are unvaccinated? What about the rights of the children and parents who want their children to be fully educated honestly and without ignoring the difficult and challenging issues our state and nation are facing?
This bill is wrong for Kansas students, educators and parents. It requires educators to shift their focus away from teaching and learning and instead focus on self-censorship, and posting anything and everything online for anyone to view, interpret and use in any way to advance a partisan agenda. Let’s not forget, there are nearly 3 million citizens in Kansas, and many of them are parents of school-aged children. Yet, not one of them testified that this bill was necessary and many testified against it. So either Kristey Williams and her ultra-conservative conspirator in the Senate, Renee Erickson, are representing out-of-state partisan special-interests or they believe that they know what’s best for all Kansans.
TAKE ACTION NOW!
Governor Kelly has long-been a champion of public education, educators and students. EMAIL Governor Kelly, thank her for supporting Kansas kids and urge her to VETO CCR for SB 58, the so-called “Parents Bill of Rights.” You can email Governor Kelly at this specially designated email address:
UPDATE on bills we're tracking
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