by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Republicans are growing increasingly confident they’ll retake the House in 2022—and they’re positioning themselves to make parents’ rights in education a national priority.
Rep. Julia Letlow’s (R., La.) Parents’ Bill of Rights was the focus of a Tuesday roundtable discussion among Republican members of the House Education and Labor Committee. The bill, which would pressure schools to be more transparent about curricula and spending, has garnered support in their party. A House GOP aide told the Washington Free Beacon that “most members” of the Republican Study Committee “seemed very supportive of the bill.” With 107 cosponsors and support from the largest Republican caucus, the bill could become an integral part of House Republicans’ platform after the midterms.
In November 2021, Virginia governor Glenn Youngkin (R.) successfully campaigned on restoring parental rights in K-12 education. His election, and a wave of conservative victories in school board races across the nation last summer, emboldened House Republicans to take education issues to the federal level. Democrats hold only a 10-seat majority in the House. And with 28 Democrats retiring and at least 22 Democrat-held seats up for grabs, the odds of Republicans reclaiming the lower chamber—and bringing their parents’ rights bill to the floor—seem likely.
The Republican bill would require state departments of education to publish changes to “academic standards.” Likewise, the bill would force districts to publicize curriculum standards as well as budget and expenditures. The legislation also promotes parents’ First Amendment rights to free speech and assembly, which became an issue last fall after the Justice Department announced the FBI would investigate the acts of some rowdy parents at school board meetings as “domestic terrorism.”