Senate Republicans push for ‘Parents’ Bill of Rights’

Published: Feb. 14, 2022 at 7:25 PM CST
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – Minnesota Senate Republicans are pushing to give parents more rights in the classroom. Senate members proposed a “Parents’ Bill of Rights” package Monday morning.

“Every parent has the right to know what goes on with their child, in every classroom, everyday,” (R) Sen. Michelle Benson of Ham Lake said.

The legislation includes a total of five bills brought together by Sen. Benson, (R) Sen. Justin Eichorn of Grand Rapids, (R) Sen. Paul Gazelka of East Gull Lake and (R) Sen. Roger Chamberlain of Lino Lakes.

Senate File 2909, or ‘Parents’ Rights’ states that schools must not withhold information about their child’s wellbeing or education. It would also require schools to notify families regularly of activities at school.

“It is the fundamental right of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children,” Eichorn said. “We have seen the rights of parents eroded over time and replaced by heavy-handed bureaucracy. If we want to improve education in Minnesota, then we need schools that are transparent, accountable, and give parents a seat at the table. Our Parents Bill of Rights empowers moms and dads to have a voice in our children’s education.”

Two bills focus on transparency; the first is Senate File 2666 or ‘Classroom Syllabus Disclosure.’ It would require teachers to share the entire year syllabus with parents within two weeks of the start of the school year. Senate File 2575 or ‘Parental Curriculum Review,’ would require to let parents know of their right to “review instructional materials and seek alternative instruction support to suit their child’s needs.”

The next is Senate File2729 or ‘Anti-Doxxing,’ which is written by Sen. Chamberlain. In this bill, parents would not be required to share their home address to speak at a school board meeting.

Lastly, Senate File 1525 or ‘Education Savings Accounts’ would give families more flexibility to support individual needs in education and to enhance their public education or look to alternative school choices.

“As a result of the online learning that so many of our children experience and parents experienced,” (R) Sen. Carla Nelson said. “Parents had a view into the classroom that they might not have had otherwise. And I think the good side of this, is that parents want to be more involved.”

As a former Rochester teacher, Sen. Nelson sees some of these requirements a bit daunting, like the release of an entire year syllabus.

“Not knowing exactly what it is students needs, their prior knowledge, what their learning gaps are,” she said. “I can see why it sounds appealing. I would be cautious of it as well. but, at the same time, I think we should do everything we can to involved parents in their child’s education.”

Some DFL-ers aren’t as sure. Like (DFL) Rep. Tina Liebling of Rochester. She believes the plan pushes a different agenda.

“Minnesota students are facing urgent challenges including significant disruptions in learning due to the pandemic, a vast opportunity gap, inadequate mental health support, and a lack of early learning opportunities,” Rep. Liebling’s statement to KTTC read. “While our public schools are in urgent need of greater investments to overcome these difficulties, Senate Republicans are once again pushing private school vouchers, cleverly branded as ‘school choice,’ and unworkable plans to micromanage curriculum with the goal of dividing our communities for political gain. House DFLers recognize the enormous needs students, educators, and families are facing, and are focused on delivering resources to ensure students can succeed in the classroom and have the social and emotional wellbeing support they deserve.”

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