Parents’ Bill of Rights Heads to Senate Vote, But Obstacles Remain
Yesterday I testified before the Senate Education Committee on House Bill (HB) 1858, a parents’ bill of rights that we’ve written about in the past. The bill addresses a number of education and parents’ rights issues, but in my view the biggest reform is the implementation of the mandatory posting of school curricula and instructional materials online. In a twist, the committee voted the bill through to the full Senate immediately after it received testimony. The speed of the committee’s action was somewhat surprising—a committee vote usually doesn’t happen until days or even weeks after testimony—but the committee’s action was by no means unprecedented.
Because HB 1858 was not amended in committee, the bill could technically be sent to the governor if the Senate passed it as is, since the bill’s language is currently identical to what the House passed. Given comments made by some senators at the hearing, however, it sounds like a handful of changes will be forthcoming, and those changes will then need to be approved by or negotiated with the House. The hearing also reaffirmed that a final vote in the Senate could be close, with one of the six committee Republicans voting against the bill.
On the heels of the Missouri Senate purportedly voting through “one of the most progressive budgets” it’s ever passed, the prospect of the parents’ bill of rights being gutted on the Senate floor or even failing is a more real possibility to me than at any time this legislative session. To be clear, I’m still generally optimistic about the current text, or something close to it, becoming law this year, but I hope the Senate leadership is prepared to use its political capital to get this important legislation across the finish line. Stay tuned.