Jan 24, 2022 - News

Abbott unveils "Parental Bill of Rights"

Greg Abbott with his finger in the air
Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Gov. Greg Abbott unveiled the outline of a proposed “Parental Bill of Rights” that would give parents — and not schools — the right to decide if a student should repeat a grade.

Why it matters: Abbott said he wants to amend the Texas Constitution to make parents the “main decision makers in all matters” involving their children, which mirrors a national push from conservatives fueled by contentious battles over how race and sexuality are addressed in public schools.

What they’re saying: “Texas parents have every right to know what their children are being taught,” Abbott said during a campaign stop at a charter school in Lewisville.

  • A card outlining this new Bill of Rights was handed out at the campaign stop and posted to Twitter by WFAA reporter Teresa Woodard.

The other side: "We look forward to reviewing Gov. Abbott's plan. It's our hope that it doesn't include additional unfunded state mandates or administrative requirements that burden frontline educators,” the Texas Association of School Boards said in a statement to WFAA.

Context: Texas public schools have become ground zero in the national debate over everything from critical race theory to sex education. NBC News even created a podcast series about schools in Southlake. Districts have also been divided over the issue of masks in schools.

Flashback: Just this month, the superintendents of both Dallas ISD and Fort Worth ISD announced they are stepping down. In the last three months, eight North Texas superintendents have said they are resigning.

  • In November, Abbott declared a war on “pornography” in public schools, though he has not cited examples of the material he would like to ban.
  • Texas state Rep. Matt Krause, who chairs the Texas House's General Investigating Committee — and is running for attorney general — wrote a letter to the Texas Education Agency last year questioning the books offered by Texas schools. He included a 16-page list of roughly 850 book titles.
  • An analysis from The Dallas Morning News found that "of the first 100 titles listed, 97 were written by women, people of color or LGBTQ authors."

Of note: The Texas Constitution already has a chapter dedicated to parental rights and responsibilities.

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