Gov. Greg Abbott promised parents in Texas a way for them to have more control over their children’s education and said he would pass a “Parental Bill of rights” in the Texas Constitution.
“We must recognize that no one is more critical to the development and to the success of our children than their parents,” he said.
But what does that mean?
Although Abbott’s plan doesn’t provide concrete details, he broadly argues that many parents in Texas have watched their roles in the classroom diminish. Here is the breakdown.
- Expand parents’ access to curriculum
Abbott said if parents have a concern about curriculum or policies, they must be given access to the material available in schools.
In November 2021, Abbott wrote a letter to the Texas Association of School Boards’ executive director saying parents had the right to “shield their children from obscene content in schools” and that “pornographic or obscene material” shouldn’t be provided to students. Educators who provide such material will lose their credentials, forfeit their retirement benefits and be placed on a “do not hire” list. Material includes content related to the LGBT+ community and critical race theory.
- Parents decide what grade level or course children can stay in
Texas parents can opt for their child to repeat a class or grade instead of being promoted to the next grade level. Under the proposal, parents would retain this ability for their children from Pre-K-12th grade.
- Expand school choice
The plan will give parents the choice to send their children to any public, charter or private school with state funding following the student. There is no clarity on whether private schools would lose organizational autonomy if they accept taxpayer dollars.
- Protect student data
Texas would prohibit the selling or sharing of students’ personal data outside of the state public education system. School districts may collect data on students to assist them in making informed policy decision, increase accountability and determine school funding.
- Require schools to notify parents of their rights
The state would require schools to post the Texas Parental Bill of Rights online so parents have access. School districts would be required to provide parents with resources and options for charter, magnet and other public schools.
The Bill of Rights will come to pass if the legislature decides to change the Texas constitution. The legislature doesn’t meet this year, so Abbott must call for a special session or wait until midterm elections are over.