OOf all the commitments in the new House Republican manifesto, Commitment to America, the endorsement of a Bill of Rights for parents is perhaps the most effective.
As my colleague Kaylee McGhee White noted here Friday, and as Republican Glenn Youngkin demonstrated in his disgruntled win for Virginia’s governorship in 2021, parental rights and related education issues are now at the top of voter concerns. And the electorate far prefers the Republican approach to the Democratic one.
Amidst a plethora of examples of school boards or administrations either utterly refusing to be transparent about reading and book materials, or making access to such information prohibitively expensive or time consuming, point one of the Parents Bill of Rights is essential – namely, the “right to know what is taught in schools and to see reading materials.” Parents, not the state, have primary authority in the education of their children, and the organs of the state, including the public schools, serve the Parents rather than dominating them.
The second point in the PBOR is simple and clear: the “right to be heard”. With a Justice Department horrifyingly and abusively labeling parents “domestic terrorists” simply for speaking up at a school board meeting, that right comes from the First Amendment right to petition the government. School officials who deny this right face severe penalties.
Related to the first point is the “right to see school budgets and expenses”. This is basic representative democracy 101: public school budgets are part of the public purse, dependent on taxpayers’ money, and taxpayers have the authority to see how their money is spent. period, end of the question.
Point four is the “right of parents to protect their child’s privacy”. And the fifth and final is the “right to be informed about violent activity at school”. The latter came to the fore when school officials in Loudoun County, Virginia, lied by denying a sexual assault of a girl by a crossdresser boy in a girls’ restroom.
Overall, the Commitment to America states, “From the classroom to school board meetings, parents demand full accountability of those responsible for their children’s education. They are the torchbearers to their children’s education and a force to be reckoned with.”
And rightly so. Except in well-defined cases of parental abuse, a government attempting to come between parents and their children, or to hide from parents what government employees are doing to their children, is hideously tyrannical. House Republicans would do well to oppose such tyranny by whatever legislative means they can constitutionally muster.