Missouri House representatives voted down a measure that would have added a constitutional amendment regarding parental rights. This move would have regulated the state’s public education system, restricting how teachers educate students on controversial topics like race and racial issues. It was voted down by a republican-led house, shocking many Missouri parents.
The constitutional amendment was proposed to combat divisive classroom teachings like Critical Race Theory (CRT) or Culturally Responsive Training. The main focus was to prevent educators from treating students differently based on their identity, or instilling lessons that teach students that they are responsible for their ancestor’s actions. Those in favor of this legislation hoped that it would prevent teachers from bringing their personal politics into the classroom and scare districts away from practices that use race-based philosophy to treat students differently based on their heritage. Those who opposed this measure noted that parents have the option to enroll their children in the schools of their choosing or homeschool if they find that the public system goes against their beliefs.
Republican Rep. Dough Richey discussed how the constitutional amendment would not limit conversations in the classroom, but other republicans felt that the move would lead to unnecessary regulations and too much government interference in public schools. Although the amendment did not go through, this is not the only law aimed at preventing schools from teaching politically biased information. Missouri House Bill 1858 was introduced and passed last month. This law creates a Parents’ Bill of Rights that ensures parents have the right to know what their children are being taught, that they are able to check in on children during school hours, and have a right to all of their children’s medical records and information regarding data collection.
In addition, this piece of legislation requires parental consent for all school activities, assemblies, and field trips. It opens most curricula and school board meeting information to the public, and states that parents must be notified if a teacher within the district is charged with a misdemeanor or felony crime. This work already passed the house and is expected to pass the Senate. So although the constitutional amendment regarding parental rights was not approved, the Missouri government is still working to combat the growing concerns about public school teachings.
Many personal and private matters have been discussed and carried out between students and teachers without parental knowledge or consent in recent times. From teaching kindergartners about sexuality to teaching students that America is a racist country, and even hosting drag queen shows, public schools across the nation have witnessed a backlash from families. In addition, lawmakers who suggest that parents homeschool their children — if they wish to have more control over teaching material — fail to address the fact that homeschoolers still pay taxes to operate public schools. The less support the public education system has, the more parents question the validity of such rates and consider other constitutional amendments which could defund public schooling altogether.
For now, the state of Missouri is awaiting the outcome of HB 1858. If it passes, the need for a parental rights constitutional amendment becomes moot. It all depends on how the Senate Votes and whether the Governor signs it into law.