House Republicans pass Parents Bill of Rights legislation : NPR

Rep. Elise Stafanik, RN.Y., Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, and Rep. Julia Letlow, R-La., hosted an event to introduce the Parental Rights Act at the Capitol at the Capitol. United States on March 1.

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Rep. Elise Stafanik, RN.Y., Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, and Rep. Julia Letlow, R-La., hosted an event to introduce the Parental Rights Act at the Capitol at the Capitol. United States on March 1.

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

House Republicans passed legislation Friday to increase parents’ access to information about their children’s education, fulfilling a midterm pledge that Party lawmakers Republicans hope to be an agitator for their establishment next year.

“The Parental Rights Bill is an important step to protect children and significantly strengthen parental rights,” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said in the House of Representatives ahead of its passage. draft.

Five Republicans joined Democrats in voting against the bill. Republicans had a narrow majority in the room, but some Democratic absences helped the law pass despite some Republican defections.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said the bill has no political future in the Democratic-controlled Senate, but the legislation sends a message about the GOP’s priorities and shows a skewed skepticism towards issues. culture wars ahead of the 2024 election.

Invoices do?

The billwas introduced by Congressman Julia Letlow of Louisiana, requiring schools to notify parents that they have the right to review the school’s curriculum and budget, inspect books and other library materials, and receive information about any violent activity in the school.

The bill would also ban schools from selling student information. Elementary schools or schools with grades 5-8 will be required to obtain parental consent before changing a student’s preferred pronoun or name or allowing a student to change accommodations based on their gender, such as a changing room or bathroom.

“[This legislation] It’s not an attempt for Congress to dictate the curriculum, or define the books in the library,” Letlow said in the House of Representatives on Thursday. “Instead, this measure is intended to bring more transparency and accountability to education, allowing parents to be informed and when they have questions and concerns to bring them to their local school board. them legally.”

Schools that do not comply with the measure risk losing federal funding.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries speaks next to a stack of banned books during a news conference on March 24.

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House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries speaks next to a stack of banned books during a news conference on March 24.

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Democrats tie legislation to other efforts to limit what’s taught in schools

Democrats vehemently opposed the bill, calling it “a political act rather than a parental act.” They argue that it seeks to codify existing parental rights and politicize the classroom.

“Rather than really investing in empowering parents, ensuring that parents have the opportunity to participate and be involved in their children’s education, radical MAGA Republicans want to strangle the system.” their right-wing ideology down the throats of students, teachers and parents across America,” House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries told reporters Friday.

During the floor debate on the bill this week, House Democrats argued that the bill put LGBTQ students at risk.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, DN.Y., said: “This Republican bill is asking the government to force LGBT people to leave before they are ready.

Although Republican lawmakers have repeatedly claimed the law does not ban books, Democrats say the bill could provide a legal basis for banning and censoring books in schools.

During the 2021-22 school year, more than 1,600 banned booksfollow a report by PEN America, an organization that advocates for free speech.

Political rifts over parental rights and what is taught in the classroom have also been on display at the state level. Republican Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida, who is seen by many as a viable 2024 presidential candidate, Sign the controversial bill “Parents’ rights in education” last year, which critics called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The DeSantis administration is now working to expand that policy by banning gender identity and sexual orientation instruction to all grade levels.

Last year, at least a dozen states consider measures that reflects Florida law.

“Democrats are now trying to capitalize on the extremes that we’re seeing in some parts of the country, strong extracurricular efforts in Florida, such as images of libraries taping up yellow tape. books,” said Jeffrey Henig, an activist. Professor of political science and education at Teachers College, Columbia University.

“That’s because there are still a lot of Americans, including Americans in purple states or swing regions, who value the notion that education should expand their children’s minds and understandings, the view that we have a complicated history in America and children as citizens ultimately need to understand that complicated history.”

Education as a matter of culture war

The issue of parental involvement in education has been produced as a culture war problem for years and has been sped up by the coronavirus pandemic, where schools are closed and wearing face masks is forcing parents to stay energized.

As schools reopen, conservatives are increasingly concerned about the curriculum in schools, particularly on topics of race, gender and sexual orientation.

Important Race Theoryan academic method taught in college and graduate school for examining how race and racism work in U.S. institutions; brought to the fore in speeches. politics when House Republicans argued that the theory was being taught to K-12 students.

the problem is encapsulated in the Virginia governor race 2021where Glenn Youngkin of the Republican party proclaimed parental rights.

Nonpartisan election analyst Dave Wasserman’s Cook’s political report.

“It was a powerful message as we came out of the pandemic and it helped Youngkin win that race,” he told NPR. “His parent’s rights campaign became a solution to voter frustration with schools and logistics during the pandemic. And now that we’re out of COVID, these problems are.
like a partisan culture war that separates Democrats and Republicans.”

Wasserman said the bill is a sign that Republicans see parental rights as a winning issue in 2024, but warned that “the grand jury has dropped out” on how independent voters and Voters in swing counties view this type of legislation.

“Republicans believe that attacking Democrats as a party beholden to teacher unions and siding with parents on many culture war topics – possibly transgender athletes , or what Republicans would say ‘wake up the spread’ as well as libraries and curricula – they believe that will resonate,” he said. “However, we haven’t really seen this issue take center stage in the recent presidential campaign, so it will take time to see if independent voters support the Republican message. draw or whether this fails.”

Henig, of Columbia University, says part of the political appeal of the parental rights message is that it can be adapted to a local audience.

“So when Republicans talk about parental choice with voters in moderate, suburban communities, they can focus on the kinds of COVID issues that create empathy among the voters.” parents have to deal with their children at home or the unpredictable schoolwork or the complexity of online learning.” he say. “Then when they talk to voters in the red states, or MAGA polling districts, they can dial in to end the issues of culture wars – the theory of anti-racism. , teaching about sex to young children, issues related to the treatment of transgender athletes.”

While that can work at the county level, the strategy becomes more complicated at the presidential level. The nature of the Republican primaries means that candidates who are likely to be more pro-rights than some moderate Republicans or wavering voters may feel comfortable in November. .

“In general elections, much of the strategy depends on segments of the audience in a handful of purple states,” he said. “That’s where Republicans for national office want to potentially reserve the possibility of reverting to a less controversial version of parental rights,” he said.


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