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Let me get straight to the point: It is crucial now more than ever to safeguard the voices of parents within the classroom.
Like many parents in southern Indiana, and across the nation, I find myself increasingly concerned when sending our children off to school.
Things have changed over the years, especially when it comes to a parent’s advocacy for their children’s education.
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Recently, it feels like the communication between home and school, where our children spend most of their day, has become strained or even severed.
Throughout the pandemic, this issue has become painfully apparent as our living rooms turned into classrooms. Parents quickly realized the reality of their children’s daily experiences.
Many parents expressed surprise and disappointment after discovering more about their children’s education. When these concerns were raised in school board meetings, they were often met with silence or dismissal.
As I emphasized on the House of Representatives floor, sending a child to public school does not strip parents of their rights. During my time in child services, I witnessed firsthand how the process worked when caring for children in foster care.
Foster parents cannot make decisions about a child’s appearance without permission from the biological parents. So why shouldn’t the same rules apply to the well-being of our students in the classroom?
Fortunately, here in southern Indiana, most school districts go above and beyond in communicating and empowering parents in their children’s education. Sadly, this is not the case across the entire country.
For example, a father in Virginia had to learn about his daughter’s assault in a high school bathroom from her, not the school.
Just last month, a New Jersey judge blocked multiple school districts from notifying parents about a child’s gender identity change.
Stories like these should not become the new normal.
That’s why House Republicans took action and pushed for legislation that resulted in H.R. 5, the “Parent’s Bill of Rights.” We heard the pleas of parents nationwide and couldn’t stand idly by as parental rights erode in our public schools. I am proud to have been an original champion of H.R. 5 and supported its swift passage in the House.
This bill reaffirms the longstanding relationship between parents and teachers in America, emphasizing that parents have the right to make informed decisions about their children’s education.
During the House Education and Workforce Committee’s consideration of the bill, we extensively highlighted the five basic principles of the “Parents Bill of Rights,” which ensure parents have the right to know what their children are being taught, be heard, see the school budget, protect their children’s privacy, and keep their children safe.
Furthermore, I added an amendment during the committee process that requires parents to be notified when their child is not reading at a grade-level proficiency by the end of third grade. This is a critical transition period for children, and informed parents can make a significant difference in improving child literacy rates.
In the past, we didn’t need this kind of legislative action. Unfortunately, it has become necessary due to the failure of school districts across the country to uphold these basic principles. The American education system is letting us down.
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This debate has inspired my colleagues and me to continue taking steps to strengthen our schools and empower parents. For me, this includes efforts to expand choices for parents. I will always be a strong advocate for school choice and education savings accounts, which place parents in control.
Parents know what is best for their children. As members of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce have said, it’s time to apply our most fundamental principle—freedom—to our most fundamental system—education.
This bill reaffirmed the fundamental relationship that had long existed between parents and teachers in America – that parents have the right to make informed decisions about their children’s education.
Now, as a member of the committee, I have a seat at the table for parents within the committee room. It is crucial that we protect and restore parents’ original role in their children’s education because, in most cases, no one can be a better advocate for their children than parents themselves. Along with my House Republican colleagues, I will not stop until we achieve this mission.
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Thankfully, we fought for and passed a bill that places parents, not bureaucrats, in charge of their children’s education by ensuring access to information, but our fight doesn’t end there. We will continue seeking partnerships with our Senate colleagues and exploring other opportunities to restore educational excellence in every school across America.
I will continue standing up for my fellow parents because parental rights extend beyond the classroom door.
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