The past few years have seen a stunning success of conservative education reforms across the country, rooted in the moral fact that parents are children’s primary educators. However, progressive elites in teachers unions, school boards, the Democratic Party, and the corporate media no longer share this view, leading to a variety of abuses.
Fortunately, conservative leaders have taken action, with elected conservatives in states leading the charge for substantive K-12 policy reforms. Fifteen states have adopted Parents’ Bill of Rights laws that affirm parents as the ultimate authority on their kids’ education, and lawmakers in another dozen states are considering similar proposals.
Some governors, like Florida’s Ron DeSantis, have gone even further, asserting authority over public education to remove pornographic books and “woke” indoctrination from schools. Eleven states have passed transparency reforms that grant parents access to public schools’ instructional materials, with at least four more possibly following suit in 2023.
These policies are seen as common sense by most people, as parents should have access to what their children are being taught and should be able to trust that schools respect their family’s values. Schools failing to meet these conditions are not providing education or activism, but rather something akin to child abuse.
Conservatives in Congress are now considering how they can support these efforts. They must use their authority to win real victories against the Left without seeking a federal takeover of public education. The Parents’ Bill of Rights Act, introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Julia Letlow (R-LA), and 122 co-sponsors, emphasizes the importance of transparency for parents and ties federal funds to schools’ commitment to serving students, parents, and communities.
Per the Heritage Foundation’s Kevin Roberts:
“For too long, conservatives—either out of aversion to conflict or lack of imagination—have shied away from using the authority voters give them to win real victories against the Left. This is not to say that Republicans should seek a federal takeover of public education the next time they control Congress and the White House. Rather, conservatives should identify the nexuses between institutions they control and the problems American families face—and act.”
The bill requires federally supported schools to post or distribute their curricula, make budgets and classroom materials available to parents, guarantee parents’ right to speak at school board meetings and meet with teachers, and apprise parents of disciplinary and academic issues. These are practices good schools already follow, as they understand the importance of parental involvement.
The proposal also includes improvements to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, such as prohibiting schools from acting as a student’s parent regarding technology usage and preventing school officials from making decisions about vaccines for children. It also blocks the sale of student information for commercial purposes.
Parents and schools should be partners, with parents as the senior partners. This principle should guide conservative education reformers at every level of government. For cities and counties, this means selecting curricula that reflect community goals and values. For states, it means protecting children’s innocence and privacy, parents’ authority, and everyone from bigotry, idiocy, and propaganda at school. For Congress, it means reminding Americans that when it comes to education, the government serves parents and children, not the other way around.