Sen Koenig's Parent's Rights Bill Isn't What You Think

Sen Koenig's Parent's Rights Bill Isn't What You Think


the problem with "parent's rights" Acts

I know the masses love the idea of "parent's rights."  But I don't like it.

 When you define something in statute, you then have to abide by it.  If the definition isn't written correctly - you've got big problems and unintended consequences down the road.

In regard to parent's rights, the truth is that parents ALREADY possess the rights.  ALL of them.  Trying to enumerate or define them is inviting trouble because undoubtedly - even if they are trying to do a good thing - the legislature will likely mess it up.  They will miss something, include something they shouldn't or use language they shouldn't- and we'll be worse off instead of better.  

For that reason alone, I don't like most of the Parent's Rights legislation we're seeing right now.  I do understand parents need transparency from their schools, but it needs to be written correctly.  

Personally, I like Senator Eigel's "Empowering Missouri Parents Act."  In his bill, he begins by saying, "Missouri school districts shall NOT..."    I know it's a slight change in the language but it makes a huge difference.  Senator Eigel puts the school in their place vs trying to give parents everything they are due.   Senator Eigel's bill, SB 318, has not been referred to committee at this time.

Here's one clue Senator Eigel's bill is better.  Eigel's is 2 pages.  Koenig's is 33.  

Senator Koenig's Parent's Rights Act has already been through committee and it was perfected on the senate floor this past week.  That means the senate can no longer make any changes to it.  They'll vote on the perfected bill the first part of the week.

koenig's bill is protecting schools not kids

we aren't guaranteed access to proprietary materials

Did you know that publishers of curriculum, even third party contractors that come into schools to teach various topics - including sex ed & mental health -  often have agreements with schools that the materials will not be sharable with parents and sometimes even board members and admin?

For example, Missouri's MAP test is proprietary.  No administrators, teachers, or parents ever see the exact test that students take.  In fact, they are told many times not to even look over students' shoulders.  Seeing the test is off limits.

This isn't transparency.  I don't know about you, but I don't like it.  When the kids had books, we could all see the pages when the kid brought them home or when we went to school at conference time.  Now that most curriculum is online - we have no access and we don't have a clue what the kids are actually learning.

Senator Koenig's SB 4 does not guarantee parents will be able to see curriculum if it is proprietary.    Copyrights and proprietary materials are mentioned a few other times in the bill in addition to this one on page 8.

This is taken from an email between a school board member and third party contracted to provide education to students, but unwilling to share curriculum materials because of the copyright.  This is a problem. 

penalties for schools is $25K

In the case of copyrighted, proprietary materials schools can be fined $25,000 per incident if they are found in violation.  This disincentivizes schools to be transparent and allows for the excuse of copyright infringement for nearly any materials request.  In most cases, a parent wouldn't know whether or not materials were proprietary, copyrighted or not.  This is found on page 14.

allows CRT

This part is a little bit tricky, because if you don't read all the way through you'd think everything is A-OK.  But no.  Essentially, he says that, "You can't do all this CRT stuff" but then he turns around in the next section and says, "This shall not be seen as prohibiting...all the things that might be CRT."    

So CRT is not prohibited IF...
  • You are exercising your 1st Amendment right to free speech
  • You go to the CRT filled teacher training because you choose to
  • You provide access to CRT filled sources for the purpose of individual research
  • You discuss or assign CRT filled assignments as long as you make it clear this is not the school's belief or position
  • You discuss it in the context of history
  • Concepts are related to the history of racial groups
  • Concepts are related to current events
Here's a quote from page 30:
"This section shall also not be construed to prohibit teachers or students from discussing public policy issues, current events, or ideas that individuals might find unwelcome, disagreeable, or offensive."  - pg 30 line 74-77

I'm sorry, Senator, but we'd be better off if you just delete this entire section.  Let's not try to define CRT in detail and then try to give back the same list.  You've basically just codified CRT!  

We would TRULY be better off without ANY of this.

incentivizes homeless/immigrant students

Senator Koenig also decided to pull the school funding formula into this Parent's Rights bill. 

  • He increased the rate schools are paid on each child who receives a free or reduced priced lunch 
  • He added money for every homeless student.
Why?   I believe there are a couple of possibilities.

Several of our schools have already had large influxes of immigrants over the last couple of years and unless our current Presidential administration changes something about our immigration policy, we are likely to have many more.

These students put a big toll on our public schools.  They often times have no experience with English, they are living in hard situations and it costs our schools, teachers and our students a lot.  

They are a burden to our already struggling system.

It could also be that Senator Koenig wanted to incentivize schools for opting in to his open enrollment program and accepting students who qualify for free & reduced lunches or are homeless.

His open enrollment bill, SB 5, is about ready to be perfected on the senate floor and we can probably expect it will pass in the House quickly as well. 

I could be wrong,  But it's possible.

Call To Action

1.   Call  & email your Senator and let them know what your concerns are with this bill.  Ask for a no vote.  Senator Eigel has a better option!  Nothing at all is better than this.  Legislator Lookup Tool

2.  Copy the link to this post & send it to a conservative friend!