Omaha teachers union gives statement ahead of ‘Parental Bill of Rights’ legislative hearing

LB374 goes before the unicameral on Tuesday.
An Omaha teachers union is sounding off against a so-called "Parental Bill of Rights" that goes before the legislature Tuesday.
Published: Jan. 30, 2023 at 10:14 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - On Tuesday, the Nebraska Legislature’s education committee will hear testimony as more than a dozen senators push to pass a school transparency bill that includes a ‘Parental Bill of Rights’ - LB374.

Senator Dave Murman introduced the bill earlier this month as a way to keep schools completely transparent about happenings in the classroom, and 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,” former Omaha Education Association President Bridget Donovan told 6 News earlier this month. “It seems to be about arousing passions along political lines possibly in adults, but very little to do with actually educating students.”

The bill would require schools and teachers to post all classroom learning material, lesson plans, activities, exams, books, and more online - allowing parents an in-depth inspection of daily classroom content.

Donovan argues that parents already have access and communication to the majority of classroom content and that this is an unnecessary step.

Current OEA President, Michelle Settlemeyer, tells 6 News she believes the bill should not leave committee. Her full statement reads:

“Parents already have the opportunity to ask and engage in these concerns regarding materials and content that is being taught to their children. Teachers take a lot of time to communicate what is taking place in their classrooms. If a parent or guardian has a concern, teachers and district leadership many times are more than willing to have those discussions and make the necessary accommodations or changes if needed.”

“Parents should be the primary decision maker in their child’s life regarding their religious values, physical, emotional and mental health. School districts should not play a role in that. The primary role of the educator is to provide the content necessary to meet the standards established by the state of Nebraska for an individual that is capable of critical thinking, problem-solving and being a positive addition to society in the 21st century. Parents are encouraged to work with their child’s teachers and schools to ensure that open line of communication regarding the content or any concern in the classroom.”

“By requiring teachers to post all their lessons, activities and assessments for the public scrutiny is egregious. Many of the companies that districts work with prohibit such action due to copyright and technology violations.”

“The amount of time that educators currently spend creating lessons and learning opportunities for their student is already extensive. By passing this legislation it would compound the workload of already overworked teachers, who are currently under a great deal of expectation and added stress due to the current teacher shortage crisis across the state.”

This bill should not advance out of committee, it does not promote transparency at all. If anything, it promotes that teachers are a danger to students and not to be trusted.”

Michelle Settlemeyer, President, Omaha Education Association

According to the bill, if lessons or activities don’t align with parents’ values or beliefs, they can withdraw their students from the courses.

“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,” Donovan said.

6 News reached out to Senator Murman ahead of Tuesday’s committee hearing but did not receive a response.