TOPEKA (KSNT) – Kansas lawmakers heard testimony for and against a controversial education bill that has been dubbed the “Parents’ Bill of Rights”.
The House K-12 Education Committee held a hearing Wednesday for HB 2662. The bill lays out a number of rights for parents, including the right to “be informed of and inspect curriculum, instructional materials, and other materials” that are made available to their children. If passed, school districts would be required to create an online portal where parents can access all of these documents.
Mike O’Neal, an attorney at the Kansas Policy Institute, testified as a proponent of the bill. He, and others, claim that parents have the right to know what their children are being taught.
“They look upon the public schools and trust the public schools are going to do the right thing,” O’Neal said. “But as President Reagan once famously said trust but verify.”
Opponents of the bill testified that parents already have more access to their child’s education than ever before. Samantha Neill, who was Kansas Teacher of the Year in 2018, testified that this bill will drive away good teachers.
“We’re talking about arming parents,” Neill said. “There is nothing about that phrase that makes being a teacher feel welcomed and trusted.”
There is still some confusion around the bill. Committee Chair Rep. Kristey Williams (R-Augusta) clarified that materials for the previous school year would need to be online by June 30. She said she had heard concerns that teachers would be asked to have materials ready for the following school year on that date, which she said is not true.
Ranking Minority Member Rep. Valdenia Winn (D-Kansas City) asked for clarification about parts of the bill that refer to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. She asked staff what the landmark federal legislation has to do with HB 2662, but staff were not able to answer her questions.