Parents’ Bill of Rights Legislation Clears Senate
In a significant first step to becoming law, the Missouri Senate passed Senate Bill (SB) 4 on Tuesday. The bill creates a Parents’ Bill of Rights, a transparency website, establishes accountability report cards, and advances a number of related accountability and transparency items. Among them:
[T]he new legislation, for example, would bar teaching “that individuals, by virtue of their race, ethnicity, color, or national origin, bear collective guilt and are inherently responsible for actions committed in the past by others. . . .”
The legislation also includes a number of parental rights, including being able to access curricula, the names of guest speakers at the school, and information about collection and transmission of student data.
It sets up the “Missouri Education Transparency and Accountability Portal” allowing the public to access “every school district’s curriculum, textbooks, source materials, and syllabi.”
The package also requires the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to create a class for schools to teach about patriotism.
The vote wasn’t close at 21 in favor and 12 against, with two self-described conservatives strangely voting against the bill. Both explained the basis for their votes during the floor debate for SB 4, and to put it lightly, neither senator made a compelling case for opposition.
I’ll explore the bill more in-depth later, but I’ll say here that gripes about statutory language intended to ensure districts don’t get sued for publishing copyrighted material and penalize schools for noncompliance are unfounded and ill-considered. The senators should get better outside counsel than what they received here.
Chances are good that SB 4 will be tweaked and possibly improved by the House, which will take the bill up in the weeks ahead. Chances are also good that some schools and school districts will try to work around or undermine the intent of the law after it’s been implemented, necessitating follow-up legislation to close any loopholes that emerge. But even if SB 4 were passed as is, it’d still be one of the strongest parents’ rights bills in the country. Whenever it does pass this session, it will be a good day for taxpayers and parents.