The stunning success of conservative education reform across the country in the past few years is the result a moral fact: Parents are children’s primary educators. Until very recently, this was not disputed, let alone controversial.
The good news is, conservative leaders have answered this challenge with action, rather than just tweets and talking points. The better news is, it has been elected conservatives in the states leading and delivering substantive K-12 policy reforms.
To the Left, these are political encroachments into a space that belongs exclusively to trained, licensed, unionized Marxist activists. To everyone else, this stuff is common sense.
Failing such minimal conditions of parental trust and student well-being is not education or even activism. It’s something more like child abuse.
For too long, conservatives—either out of aversion to conflict or lack of imagination—have shied away from using the authority voters give them to win real victories against the Left. This is not to say that Republicans should seek a federal takeover of public education the next time they control Congress and the White House. Rather, conservatives should identify the nexuses between institutions they control and the problems American families face—and act.
The Parents’ Bill of Rights Act, introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Julia Letlow (R-La.) and 122 co-sponsors, puts a bright spotlight on the importance of transparency to parents. It clarifies for confused school boards and woke administrators that their federal funds are predicated on serving their students, parents, and communities—not their ideology.
The bill would require federally supported schools to post or distribute their curricula, and to make both their budgets and classroom materials available to students’ parents. It guarantees parents’ right to speak at school board meetings, meet with their children’s teachers, and be appraised of disciplinary and academic issues.
Importantly, the proposal offers needed improvements to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, including provisions that prohibit schools from acting as a student’s parent when it comes to technology usage, along with prohibitions on school officials making decisions for a child on vaccines. The proposal also blocks the sale of student information for commercial purposes. These would be welcome updates to federal law.
Parents and schools are supposed to be partners, not rivals—and in that relationship, it’s moms and dads who are the senior partners. That’s the principle that should guide conservative education reformers at every level of government.
For cities and counties, that means choosing curricula that reflect communities’ goals and values. For states, that means protecting children’s innocence and privacy, protecting parents’ authority over their kids (including via school choice), and protecting everyone from bigotry, idiocy, and propaganda at school.
Finally, for Congress, that means reminding all Americans that when it comes to education, government works for moms, dads, and kids—not the other way around.