Kansas Senate and House pass controversial ‘Parents’ Bill of Rights’

The bill, SB2662, would require teachers to transparentize their entire curriculum for parental inspection

The+Parents+Bill+of+Rights%2C+which+guarantees+parents+full+transparency+to+their+childs+curriculum%2C+was+vetoed+by+Gov.+Laura+Kelly+Friday%2C+April+15+along+with+several+other+pieces+of+legislation.

By Chloe Miller

The “Parents Bill of Rights,” which guarantees parents full transparency to their child’s curriculum, was vetoed by Gov. Laura Kelly Friday, April 15 along with several other pieces of legislation.

Gabby Delpleash and Emma Clement

This story was published in print Thursday, April 14 before Gov. Laura Kelly vetoed the ‘Parents Bill of Rights’ Friday, April 15.

Kansas lawmakers recently passed a bill that would establish a parents’ bill of rights for students in elementary and secondary schools. The bill, professionally known as the ‘Parents of Bill of Rights,’ would require teachers to make public the entirety of their class curriculum via a transparency portal by June 30 of the upcoming school year. The measure now heads to Gov. Laura Kelly’s desk.

Kansas Representative Kristey Williams requested to introduce the bill to the House floor Feb. 9 with the K-12 Education Committee acting as the bill’s sponsor. According to state Rep. Jo Ella Hoye, members of the Goldwater Institute, a “libertarian think tank” whose stated mission is “to defend and strengthen the freedom guaranteed to all Americans in the constitutions of the United States and all fifty states,” were among the only individuals in favor of the bill. Williams did not respond to the JagWire’s request for an interview. Since the bill’s initial enforcement in Florida public schools starting in Nov. 2021, 10 other states have since passed the Parents’ Bill of Rights. 

English teacher Victoria Byrd believes the bill’s parameters over-simplifies what it means to be a teacher.

I think the worst part of all of it is the fact that as a teacher, I don’t teach the same thing every year and you shouldn’t teach the exact same thing the exact same way,” Byrd said. “This bill removes the ability for a teacher to base their instruction on individual student needs.”

 The Kansas Legislature website states the transparency bill’s main objective is to promote parental involvement in their child’s education putting the responsibility of the child’s upbringing, education and care in their parents’ hands. The bill further touches on prohibiting teachings that may align with personal beliefs such as “racially essentialist doctrines” and banning any books that discuss race or critical race theory.

Though school board president Danielle Heikes fully supports parental involvement in children’s education, she believes the district is already providing curriculum transparency via school management softwares Canvas and Skyward making the bill’s objectives ineffectual.

“I am 100% in support of parental involvement, partnership, oversight and engagement in their children’s education. The learning and education for students should be a partnership between home and school,” Heikes said. “However, I think that what’s being laid out in the bill today is already accounted for.”

State Rep. Jo Ella Hoye, who voted against the bill, concurs with Heikes stating that parental involvement is already established through previously set district-wide policies but holds a stronger opposition toward the bill’s supplemental criteria.

I am very opposed to the bill. It will be a huge burden on teachers for a lot of information that I don’t even think parents are interested in,” Hoye said. “As a parent of a fourth grader, I have great communication with my son’s teacher and I’m able to get a lot of information from being involved with the PTA and other newsletters and things that our school sends out. The thought of adding on that much more to read, it just doesn’t seem realistic that parents are going to spend hours and hours reading training materials and things that don’t even relate to the classroom.”

Social studies teacher Jeff Wieland speaks from a similar perspective in saying that the bill may make teachers default to conventional and uncreative lesson plans, which will only hurt students’ education.

“[Teachers will begin to] realize that every time we look for a new resource, that there’s going to be this extra step that we have to do,” Wieland said. “I think you might see teachers move to more of what we call a canned curriculum, where it’s all done for you, and it’s really straightforward, and take the art out of the teaching. I think [this style of teaching] would definitely have a negative effect on students and a negative effect on instruction.”

The bill’s passage could also put additional stresses on the district administration. According to the district superintendent Dr. Frank Harwood, the proposed transparency portal could require specific skills to manage.

“If the district tried to take some of the burden away from teachers that means that we would probably have to hire people to [manage the portal] specifically,” Harwood said. “Teachers would still have to send it to somebody who would then be posting in a transparency portal, which would still take time and effort and would decrease resources that can be used in the classroom.”

Considering the new pressures a transparency portal would ultimately put on teachers, Byrd urges state legislators to consider who the bill will hurt most.

“Sit in my classroom, shadow me for a day or shadow any teacher and you will see how what so many portray to be a negative environment is actually an inclusive one,” Byrd said. “I just want [our state representatives] to see what we, as teachers, do and know that my goal is not to indoctrinate kids. I want to teach kids and I want to make sure that I’m doing my best to do that.”

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