Texas Gov. Abbott Aims to Create Parental Bill of Rights
LEWISVILLE, Texas — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott recently revealed a proposal to amend the state constitution to grant parents greater control over their children’s education and censure public educators for teaching material considered offensive.
During a campaign event last week at a charter school in Lewisville, Texas, Abbott debuted his plans to codify parents’ rights over issues like school curriculum and whether a student should be forced to repeat a grade. His plans included stripping educators of their credentials and state licensing for providing students with material deemed obscene. Abbott’s proposal would also forbid selling or sharing students’ personal data outside of the Texas public education system.
The prospect of empowering parents through an amendment to the state constitution underscores Abbott’s eagerness to cut down on governmental intrusions of parental decision-making while highlighting his hardline conservative values. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a similar bill into law, the Parents’ Bill of Rights, which centered on public education in June 2021.
“Nothing is more important to the future of Texas than ensuring that the next generation [has] the support and resources they need to succeed, and no one is more important to that development, well-being and success of our children than their parents,” Abbott said during the event. “The fact is, no government program can or should replace the role that parents play in their children’s lives.”
During that event, Abbott also railed against school districts that instituted mask mandates and virtual learning over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. The governor also noted that he had signed two bills last year banning the teaching of “critical race theory” in public schools in the state, although the concept taught in higher education was not present in the state’s K-12 curriculum, as previously reported in The Well News.
Under Abbott’s proposal, teachers would be subject to losing retirement benefits and be placed on a “do not hire” list for distributing offensive material in the classroom, although the Texas law restricting the teaching of CRT principles fails to define what constitutes an obscenity or a “controversial issue.” Despite the vagueness of the bill’s provisions, school districts in Texas have already begun conducting reviews of literature that could cause “psychological distress” at the behest of the Texas House Committee on General Investigating.
Educators in the state have already pointed out that the Texas Education Code already contains a chapter that outlines parental rights and responsibilities, rendering Abbott’s proposal redundant. Shannon Holmes, executive director of the Association of Texas Professional Educators, said the proposal “reeks of grandstanding” and would only serve to make educators in the state political pawns.
“The so-called ‘Parental Bill of Rights’ wouldn’t give Texas parents any new rights,” Holmes said in a written statement shared with The Well News. “Every ‘issue’ is already addressed in existing state law and local policies. Instead, Gov. Abbott’s pledge to ‘bolster’ parent rights would only serve to place additional governmental mandates on school districts and teachers already stretched to their limits due to staffing shortages. Wasting precious taxpayer dollars and eliminating the local control cherished by Texans for generations will do nothing to improve public schools or enhance parents’ rights.”
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