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Kansas City-area legislator Doug Richey is working through the "Parents Bill of Rights."

Missouri House begins debate on parents’ bill of rights

The Missouri Legislature wasted little time in tackling the numerous education bills that have been filed in the new session. The House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee on Tuesday began discussion on parents’ oversight of curriculum, banning the teaching of certain subjects and creating a process to recall school board members.

House Bill 1995, sponsored by Rep. Doug Richey, R-Excelsior Springs, would establish “The Parents’ Bill of Rights for Student Well-Being” and codify a variety of parental rights — some already standard practice and enshrined in state law — over their children’s education.

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“It is not to blow apart public education,” he said. “It is not to disparage public education. It is about trust.”

The bill stipulates that parents have a right to review information related to their child’s education, such as attendance, standardized test results and curriculum. It also would direct the state education department to create a form by which parents could ask to be notified two weeks in advance whenever a “divisive or controversial topic that may conflict with a parent’s belief that all persons, regardless of race, ethnicity, color, national origin, or ancestry, should be treated equally” will be taught.

The bill also would establish a process by which parents could file formal complaints to school board policies and request access to information through a district superintendent. Additionally, the state education department must establish a portal, with school districts required to publicly post curriculum and materials taught and speakers and guests used for professional development activities.

House Bill 1474, sponsored by Rep. Nick Schroer, R-O’Fallon, similarly would codify parents’ rights to receiving information about what their child is taught and also ban the teaching of critical race theory.

Schroer’s bill defines critical race theory as curriculum that identifies groups or institutions “as inherently, immutably or systemically sexist, racist, biased, privileged or oppressed,” among other definitions and specifically points to projects such as “The 1619 Project” or curriculum from sources such as We Stories, a St. Louis-based nonprofit that aims to help families have conversations about race and racism.

“What we can do, and I think what schools should be doing, is teaching all history and nothing but, not fairytale versions, not politically skewed versions of history,” he said.

–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice