Senate Republicans propose parental ‘bill of rights’

One of the bills would require teachers to share copies of their syllabi with parents.

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

Republicans in the Minnesota Senate have announced their intention to propose a “bill of rights” that allows parents a greater say in the education of their children.

Four Senate Republicans — Justin Eichorn, Michelle Benson, Paul Gazelka, and Roger Chamberlain — held a press conference Monday on five bills that make up the “Parents’ Bill of Rights.”

According to a one-page summary of the “bill of rights,” the five pieces of proposed legislation would accomplish the following objectives:

  • Prohibit school districts from withholding information about a child’s “well-being or education” and require parental notification about any school activities (SF 2909).
  • Require teachers to share an electronic copy of their class syllabi with parents and inform them of any “significant changes” to a syllabus (SF 2666).
  • Require schools to inform parents of their “right to review instructional materials” and “seek alternative instruction support to suit their child’s needs” (SF 2575).
  • Prohibit school boards from requiring parents to disclose their home address before addressing the board (SF 2729).
  • Allow greater financial flexibility in a child’s specific educational needs (tutoring, tuition, etc.) through an education savings account program (SF 1525).

A press release states that the goal is to “get kids back on the right track by increasing school transparency, disclosure, and accountability to parents” in the wake of two full years of canceled classes, online learning, or in-person learning with burdensome COVID protocols.

On the classroom transparency bill, SF 2666, Sen. Michelle Benson said “parents have a right to know what their kids are being taught.”

“It is imperative our schools have a well-planned and transparent curriculum. This legislation affirms what many educators are already doing and allows parents to have the information necessary to help decide what education option is best for their child,” she added.

The other GOP senators participating in the press conference echoed the necessity of more parental involvement in education as well. Minnesota Republicans held a press conference in late January saying that “getting back to basics” in education was one of their top legislative priorities.

Education has become a contentious, divisive issue among Democrats and Republicans nationwide. In general, Republicans accuse Democrats of supporting curricula saturated with critical race theory (CRT) and censoring or ignoring parents who object, while Democrats accuse Republicans of using the term “parental rights” as a facade for “white supremacy.”