AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is joining a nationwide conservative movement to give parents more control over what happens in children's classrooms. Abbott during a campaign stop last week unveiled what he calls his "Parental Bill of Rights."
"No government program can replace the role parents play in their child’s education,” Abbott told an audience of parents at Founders Academy of Lewisville, a public charter school. “Parents will be restored to their rightful place as the pre-eminent decision-maker for their children.”
The plan would allow parents more access to course materials and curriculum, and let parents to decide whether their child must repeat a course or grade after failing. The proposed legislation would also blacklist any teacher convicted of giving minors access to "obscene" content.
This all comes as Abbott has limited how topics like racism or sexism can be taught in schools, by championing bans on so-called “critical race theory.” The governor has also called on school boards to investigate books he's called obscene, many of which deal with issues of gender or sexuality.
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The push for a “Parental Bill of Rights” isn’t only happening in Texas. Republican Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley introduced similar legislation at the federal level in November, and Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, also a Republican, ran a successful campaign largely on issues of parental control in the classroom.
But educators say such legislation is unnecessary, and potentially harmful.
“It’s just another example of the governor not speaking to educators,” said Ovidia Molina, president of the Texas State Teachers Association. “We already have a parental rights section in our code. [He’s] just creating more problems for our students. Because they are the ones impacted by everything that happens to the adults around them.”
Molina also said Abbott is just using Texas students for political gain as he campaigns for re-election.
“We are all supporting our students, and we really wish our governor would do the same,” said Molina. “And not pit us against our parents. [He] is trying to put a wedge in between parents and educators.”
The “Parental Bill of Rights” would need to be passed by the Legislature once it reconvenes in 2023.