Parental involvement in education will likely be a major topic in a series of 2024 elections, from the White House down to the local level. Recent events at the local, state, and federal level show that the ability of parents to monitor the curriculum of their children is growing in importance.
Much of the concern revolves around a number of initiatives that many conservatives call an abuse of education. This includes the use of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in classroom settings, as well as a number of books many parents view as inappropriate for school-aged children.
The issue is both local and national. An organization called Freedom Families United released audio from a trainer of the New Mexico School Boards Association who denied parental roles in their children’s education.
The trainer, Andrew Sanchez said in part that parents “do not have a fundamental right to tell you how public school teaches their child.”
He said that recent efforts to restrain CRT and similar initiatives were akin to not teaching the Civil War. In particular, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) has been one of the nation’s most prominent advocates for parental oversight.
The role of parents in their children’s education has been a major topic at the ballot box in the last several election cycles. Perhaps the largest example of this came in 2021’s gubernatorial election when future-Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R-VA) defeated former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D-VA) in a close race.
The Virginia race hinged on several factors, with the ability for parents to have access to their children’s educational resources being one of the largest.
Such concerns about education have made it to the federal level. Several prominent Republicans, including Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), have pushed for the Parents Bill of Rights Act. The bill, which has passed the House of Representatives, calls for school districts to post the materials students will use on publicly-available websites, among other changes.
The Democrats in Washington are too extreme to believe parents should have a say in their kids' education. Every single one of them voted against the Parents Bill of Rights. pic.twitter.com/a2vk7rnRRb
— Kevin McCarthy (@SpeakerMcCarthy) March 25, 2023
The proposed bill won zero Democratic votes in the recent party-line vote. The bill was also criticized by House Minority Leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), who said that “extreme MAGA Republicans don’t want the children of America to learn about the Holocaust.”
He also said that Republicans “want to ban books, they want to bully the LGBTQ+ community, they want to bring guns into classrooms.”
Republicans pushed back on such charges, stating that the bill was meant in part to inform parents about explicit books being used in schools.