Nebraska senators introduce ‘Parental Bill of Rights’

Advocates are pushing for transparency about what goes on in the classroom.
A bill that would allow parents greater freedom to control what their child learns in the classroom made waves in Lincoln today.
Published: Jan. 12, 2023 at 9:55 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Thursday, 10 Nebraska state senators introduced LB374, which aims to create a ‘Parental Bill of Rights’ when it comes to their child’s education. It’s in an effort to keep schools completely transparent about happenings inside the classroom.

That bill allows parents more power over their child’s education, potentially guiding that education to more closely align with their beliefs.

“This doesn’t seem to be about children at all, it seems to be about arousing passions along political lines possibly in adults, but very little to do with actually educating students,” says Bridget Donovan, a former educator and the former president of the Omaha Education Association.

Donovan says many topics addressed in the bill - like allowing parents to speak at school board meetings or review their child’s curriculum and personal file - are already things that exist.

“My first reaction is what is the problem that this bill is supposed to be a solution for?” she says. “It kind of looked like a solution in search of a problem to me.”

More than anything, Donovan is concerned.

One section of the bill reads:

“[Parents] have an opportunity to object to any learning material or activity on the basis that such material or activity harms the child or impairs the parents’ firmly held beliefs, values, or principles and withdraw [said] child from the class or program in which the material is used.”

“What if you feel that the role the U.S. played in the Japanese Internment Camps makes us look poorly and you don’t want your child to learn about that, so then we stop teaching history to children? Because someone disagrees with it?” she asks. “Or science. Is biology gone now because somebody doesn’t believe in science or they don’t like science?”

Donovan says education relies on a certain amount of standardization.

“Education should be exposing students to a wide variety of topics, and parents, by all means, have every right and should be teaching what their values about those topics are, but education should not be teaching values, education should be giving them the exposure to these things.”

When it comes to opting out of classes, Donovan worries this could affect federal funding that Nebraska public schools receive, or eventually lead to the loss of local control of our public schools.

She also worries the bill would require more of already-overworked educators and could deter students from entering the teaching field.

“There seems to be an attempt to erode the trust that people feel in their public schools,” Donovan believes.

The bill also touches on vaccinations, parental review of library books, more in-depth access and information on students’ curriculum, and more.