A Republican bill to expand parental voice in school activities passed, 213-208, in a vote before the full House Friday morning.
During debate that began Thursday, House Education and Workforce Committee Chair Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., said, "With this bill, we will send a strong message that parents are an integral part of their child’s education and must be respected. For too long, parents have been kept at a distance in schools and classrooms — teachers unions and education bureaucrats made significant efforts to conceal what was truly being taught in classrooms."
The Democrats were united in opposing the bill, and five Republicans also voted against the measure.
As originally introduced, the bill sought to require school districts nationwide to publicly post their curricula, provide parents with a list of library books, and give parents the right to review district budget practices, among other requirements.
During Thursday's debate in which several amendments were introduced, Foxx said the Democrats were "misrepresenting" what was in the bill and said the measures to bring parent participation aren't meant to hurt schools but to better support them.
Democrats, however, called the bill unnecessary, duplicative and said it would create unfunded mandates on schools. The legislation is "another effort to turn classrooms into a culture war" and "distracts from what our schools really need," Education and Workforce Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott, D-Va., said on the House floor Thursday.
In an emailed statement after the bill's passage, Scott said, "Let me be clear: House Democrats believe parental engagement is central to student success. Unfortunately, the Politics Over Parents Act does not take meaningful steps to increase or support parental engagement."
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said in a statement following the bill's passage, “H.R. 5 has very little to do with actually helping students or parents. Instead, it would require schools to divert their limited resources from teaching, censor education, ban books, and harm children who are just trying to be themselves and live their lives in peace."
In another post-vote statement, Brooke Rollins, president and CEO of the America First Policy Institute, said, “The parent empowerment movement sweeping the Nation is in direct response to the widespread abuse of power by the institutions entrusted with educating our children.”
It's unclear at this point the path the bill will take as there is currently no companion legislation in the Senate.