Senate passes two bills belonging to GOP’s parental ‘bill of rights’

The GOP's parental "bill of rights" is a package of five bills that aims to give parents a greater say in the education of their children.

Senate Republicans held a press conference in February to announce their new "Parents' Bill of Rights." (Minnesota Senate Media/YouTube)

After a Thursday debate, the Minnesota Senate passed two bills belonging to the parental “bill of rights,” a Republican-led effort to give parents a greater voice in the education of their children.

SF 2575, written by Sen. Paul Gazelka, proposes that schools must inform parents of their right to review the content of instructional materials and “make reasonable arrangements with school personnel for alternative instruction” if they object to certain material. That bill passed in a nearly party-line vote of 37-30.

State Sen. Roger Chamberlain’s bill, on the other hand, passed with a unanimous 67-0 vote. SF 2729 proposes that school boards must not require parents to disclose their home address in order to address the board.

“I’ve had the opportunity to travel around the state and have talked to a lot of different parents that are frustrated,” Gazelka said while introducing his bill for debate. “I think with the closing of schools and distance learning, the silver lining of the whole thing is many parents got more involved in their kids’ education, and that’s a good thing.”

“But as they began to hear some of what was being taught in the classrooms, they were frustrated because they didn’t feel like they had a voice.”

Not everyone was on board, however. Sen. Jen McEwen of Duluth, a Democrat, vowed to oppose the GOP’s “bill of rights.”

“It strikes me what I have heard in meetings with teachers … There are real needs in our schools. We have districts around our state that are talking about making cuts. We have a problem with retention because teachers have had it,” she said.

“I’m a parent of two kids in our public schools right now, and frankly I find it unconscionable that these are the bills we’re considering in this chamber today, when this is the situation.”

Before a final vote on SF 2575, Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller weighed in on the importance of “accountability and transparency” in the classroom.

“This bill is about empowering parents to be partners in their children’s education, to be partners with educators, to ensure that our kids are getting the top quality education they deserve in the classroom,” he said.