Dozens flock to Nebraska Capitol for Parental Bill of Rights legislative hearing

The bill grants parents more power over their child’s education and touches on everything from vaccinations to library books.
Parents on both sides of the issue made their voices heard in Lincoln today as the committee hearing was held for the "Parental Bill of Rights."
Published: Jan. 31, 2023 at 10:23 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - For hours Tuesday afternoon, the Nebraska Legislature’s Education committee heard testimony from community members from across the state on LB374 - a bill that aims for school transparency and seeks to create a ‘parental bill of rights.’

Parents, grandparents, students, educators, and more poured their hearts out for three minutes each to committee members as to why they believed the proposed bill should or shouldn’t become law.

“It is incredulous [that] a bill supporting parental rights, rights inherently granted in sovereign, even has to be written,” said bill supporter Marni Hodgens.

“This is certainly a confusing bill and would be difficult to have schools implement,” said an opponent of the bill.

The bill grants parents more power over their child’s education and touches on everything from vaccinations to library books.

“There are many aspects of the bill that concern us, but as school nurses, we are particularly concerned about removing the state vaccination regulation,” says bill opponent Wendy Rau.

“I have appalled by videos of parents having to shame school boards by reading out loud in a public forum sexually explicit books found in school libraries by parents that should be X rated,” says bill supporter Robbie Adams.

Of the dozens that appeared for the hearing, many argued that the bill’s requirements for educators to post each lesson plan and activity online will hurt teachers. It would require an online portal with every assignment, book, exam, and more.

“A frustrating element of this as a teacher is that it’s not grounded in the reality of what teaching is like, you heard them talk about well ‘all materials for classes are ready at the start of the year’ - no they’re not, we’re sometimes working week to week and sometimes day to day to adjust our lessons and modify them,” says Tim Royers, an opponent of the bill.

But others argue that the oversight is necessary, and believe that teachers often overstep their authority.

“It’s not the job of the public schools to advocate how students should view sex, gender, morality, and social issues. The role of public schools is to educate academically. teachers should teach students how to think, not what to think,” one bill supporter says.

The bill would allow parents to withdraw their children from courses they feel go against their values and beliefs.

“The passage of this bill could arguably provide each and every parent veto authority over virtually every educational program,” says Shavona Holman, representing Omaha Public Schools as opponents of the bill. “I cannot imagine the challenge that any teacher, no matter how many or few children they have in their classroom will face trying to navigate the list of objections from parents.”

“What I heard on the opposite side was blown out of proportion, what might happen but not stories of what actually happened and what has happened. I heard that on the proponent side all these parents, a lot of parents and teachers for this bill because they’ve already had negative things happen and they want better for future family and teachers,” says supporter Elizabeth Davids.

After four hours of testimony, the committee did not take action on the bill.