TOPEKA – Kansas House lawmakers have advanced a form of parental rights legislation, which would allow parents to withdraw their children from any class they deem offensive without affecting the child’s grades.
Rep. Rebecca Schmoe, a Republican from Ottawa, introduced an amended form of the bill in the House on Wednesday. Lei schmoe said she believed the legislation would benefit both teachers and parents, although education officials said the legislation would hinder teachers in classrooms.
“There’s really no language in this bill that addresses what a teacher teaches,” Schmoe said. “This bill is all about letting a parent decide what feels comfortable about their student that they feel at school from trusted adults. That’s all it is.
The bill, House Bill 2236, establishes that parents have the right to direct the education, upbringing and moral or religious formation of their children. Under the bill, parents can remove their child from any class or class without harming the student’s academic records if they object to the material being taught.
The educational materials specified in the bill would include reading materials, websites, videos and textbooks. If the material was not included in the approved district curriculum or state educational standards, or if the material contradicted a parent’s beliefs or values, parents would have cause to withdraw their children. Local school boards would be required to adopt policies and procedures for the bill if passed.
Critics of the legislation, including the Kansas State Parent Teacher Association, the State Board of Education, the Kansas Association of School Boards and the Kansas National Education Association have said the legislation is excessive.
Representative Linda Featherston, a Democrat from Overland Park, questioned the need for the bill, saying schools have already communicated well with parents and that the matter should be left to local school boards and education officials .
“We’re dealing with problems that don’t exist,” Featherston said. “And we need to focus on things that improve our state, not destroy us.”
The legislation is similar to a K-12 public education bill of parents’ rights passed by the Legislature during its last session. That bill encouraged skepticism of classroom materials and challenges to books on school library shelves and was vetoed by Governor Laura Kelly.