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Georgia Senate passes Parents’ Bill of Rights
Classroom

Legislation guaranteeing parents' input into their children’s education cleared the Republican-controlled Georgia Senate on Tuesday.

The bill, which passed 33-21 along party lines and now moves to the state House of Representatives, is part of an education agenda being pushed by GOP Gov. Brian Kemp that includes measures prohibiting the teaching of certain “divisive concepts” in Georgia schools and banning transgendered students born male from competing in girls’ sports.

The Parents’ Bill of Rights would give parents the right to review curriculum and other instructional material during the first two weeks of every nine-week grading period in public schools.

Principals or superintendents who receive a request for information from a parent would have three working days to provide it.

If the principal or superintendent is unable to share the information within that timeframe, they would have to provide the parent a written description of the material and a timeline for its delivery, not to exceed 30 days. Parents not satisfied with a local school’s decision on a request could appeal to the school district and, beyond that, to the state.

Parents also would be able to opt-out of sex education instruction for their children and could prohibit photos or videos of their children unless necessary for public safety.


“At the end of the day, parents know what’s best for a child before the government,” said Sen. Jason Anavitarte, R-Dallas.

Senate Democrats argued the legislation is unnecessary because parents already can play a role in their children’s education if they choose to.

“Parents are invited to back-to-school nights and parent-teacher conferences,” said Sen. Elena Parent, D-Atlanta. “They can attend school board meetings and many do. They can elect school board members.”

The bill would create an adversarial relationship between parents and teachers when they should be working together, Parent said.

“This bill creates a process for investigation and appeals …  document production efforts that contribute to an atmosphere of censorship and overburdening of teachers,” she said.

Parent predicted the bill would worsen an already troublesome shortage of teachers in Georgia.

Supporters countered that a Parents’ Bill of Rights has become necessary in Georgia because in-home instruction during the coronavirus pandemic has shown parents what their children are learning that, in some cases, conflicts with their values.

“Our parents have learned more of what their children are being taught than ever before,” said Sen. Marty Harbin, R-Tyrone. “That’s what’s caused some of these concerns.”

“How can you sit here and fight against the rights of parents?” Sen. Matt Brass, R-Newnan, asked the bill’s opponents from the Senate well. “We are simply returning control back to the parents that they have lost.”

This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.