As we approach the 2022 midterm elections and all eyes are on the battle between Republicans and Democrats over control of Congress, there are major down ballot races, from the legislature to the school board, that can significantly impact you and your family. One of the latest battles to erupt in the last two years have pitted organized teachers unions against parents who simply wish to express their rights over what their children are taught in tax-payer funded public schools. And the battlegrounds are expanding. To date, a record 84 bills have been filed in 26 states that seek to codify parents’ rights in public education, according to an analysis by Future Ed, a independent think-tank housed at Georgetown University. So what are some highlights from the recent state level victories in education? Let’s take a look.
Of the 84 bills mentioned above, six have been enacted, two in Arizona, two in Florida and one each in Georgia and Louisiana. One bill in Kansas has cleared the legislature and awaits the governor’s signature. Many of the bills establish a ‘parents’ bill of rights’ while others expand or amend existing law. Some of the bills provide greater transparency to parents on what’s in their kids’ school curriculum, teaching materials, and libraries, while some seek to regulate school board meetings and procedures.
In Arizona, the state legislature passed two laws earlier this year. H.B. 2161, helped clarify the state’s existing parental rights law and its applicability to schools and transparency for educational records, while H.B.2439 established a school library review and policy that put parent’s in the driver’s seat, not elected education bureaucrats who on the whole tend to be liberal Democrats. This year, the legislature also established a state Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) that gives all students in the state up to $6,500 to be spent on private school tuition, tutoring, textbooks, curriculum materials, online courses, and other services, at their parents’ discretion, earning the label of being America’s “gold standard” for education choice by the Heritage Foundation. But that hasn’t stopped the Arizona Education Association and the newly formed Save Our Schools Arizona advocacy group, which are trying to stop the ESA’s from taking effect. Heritage’s new Education Freedom Report Card ranks Arizona as second in the nation for education freedom.
Some unions have reached new lows, such as in Ohio, where the teachers union in the state’s largest school district went on strike last month right before school was set to resume, purposely keeping children out of the classroom.
In addition to parents’ victories in state legislatures, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin issued executive order number two “reaffirming the rights of parents in the upbringing, education, and care of their children.” Youngkin, who became the state’s first Republican governor in over a decade largely due to his pro-parents rights in education stance, says in his order that “Under Virginia law, parents, not the government, have the fundamental right to make decisions concerning the care of their children.”
Then there’s Florida, which earned the Heritage Foundation’s #1 ranking for education freedom in their new analysis. This year, Florida passed a much ballyhooed “Parent’s Rights in Education” bill, which was falsely labeled by the White House, Hollywood, and the rest of the radical left and their mainstream media proxies as the “Don’t Say Gay” law, which went into effect on July 1st. The bill prohibits gender identity discussion and sexual education for K-3, and age appropriate materials for higher grades. That seems common sense enough but the far-left and their “useful idiots” unsurprisingly feel threatened about having their radical gender propaganda removed from the Kindergarten class room. The Florida Education Association, along with other leftist groups, are challenging the law in the courts, because who doesn’t want their kindergartener talking about gender theory and sexual content in between their ABCs? The state teachers union is even opposing the state’s new voluntary “Excellence in Civics” teacher training program, which promotes greater civic literacy and earns the teachers a $3,000 bonus. “We will make sure that parents can send their kids to school to get an education, not an indoctrination,” Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) said to applause when signing the bill into law earlier this summer.
While the left has launched a culture war using America’s children as subjects, parents are starting to push back and win some important battles. Some of those battlegrounds will find themselves on your ballot this November. That’s why it’s so important to read up on what your candidates from state representative to Governor are saying and what initiatives might appear on your ballot this fall. When it comes to our children, parents have the right to know what’s going on and what’s being taught. Let’s proceed confidently and look forward to plenty more victories this November and in the months ahead.
Bob Carlstrom is President of AMAC Action
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