Gov. Abbott's 'Parental Bill of Rights' gives parents primary power on children's education

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Gov. Greg Abbott unveiled a proposal which he said would give parents more power and say as to what their kids learn in school.

On Thursday, Abbott introduced his "Parental Bill of rights" during a campaign stop in Lewisville.

"Under the Bill of rights, we will amend the Texas Constitution to make clear that parents are the primary decision-makers in all matters involving their children," Abbott said.

He adds that parents have a right to know what their child is being taught in school.

Abbott said the plan would expand parents' access to school curriculum, make materials easily accessible online or other means, and reassure parents their concerns about school curriculum and policies are heard.

"Texas will give parents the option to decide if their child should repeat a course or grade level instead of leaving that decision solely to the school district," Abbott said.

He added the proposal is also aimed at protecting students from harmful and obscene content in schools.

"Texas will ensure that any educational personnel who was convicted of providing minors with obscene content will lose their educational credentials and state licensing, forfeit their retirement benefits and be placed on a 'do not hire list," he said.

Zeph Capo, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, said Abbott's proposal shows that he's not focused on developing respect between teachers, parents and the community.

"They're not focused on developing support that teachers and schools need to be successful," Capo said.

Capo said the state already has a similar Bill of Rights in place passed in 1995.

"That gave parents quite a bit of rights around curriculum issues, around school health advisory committees, to review content on human development, says Capo. " Maybe we just need to be looking at the processes. Are people actually involved first? Are we actually fixing the parental involvement issue before we get to the parental rights issue because if our parents are involved, and they're talking with their teachers and they're overviewing the materials that are going on. Then, you're opening the door to dialogue and better understanding, rather than turning the system into something that's going to be unrelatable. When you have, frankly, hundreds of thousands of different opinions about what just should not be taught in a public school classroom."

Capo also said there's an even bigger issue.

"The fact that teachers are leaving in droves, and we literally have maintenance people and others that are teaching kids right now, not certified licensed teachers. And these issues aren't helping those problems. They're actually making them worse. Let's focus on the real issues," Capo said.
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