Wisconsin Governor Rejects Parental Bill Of Rights

In a historic move, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers vetoed numerous education bills, including the Wisconsin parental rights.

By Erika Hanson | Published

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Wisconsin parental rights

Republicans are up in arms with the Democratic Governor of Wisconsin. On Friday, April 15th, Gov. Toney Evers vetoed a plethora of Republican-sponsored bills that passed through the House and Senate chambers. In his history-making move that culminates in 126 vetoed bills this two-year session, many of his latest rejects were aimed at Wisconsin’s education. With numerous bills, one major push, known as the Wisconsin parental rights bill, was on the list of dismissals. 

Assembly Bill 963 was chock full of text with one goal in mind: giving parents in the state of Wisconsin more parental rights. It would have given parents quick access to all learning materials, and the right to be made aware by school officials of any change in gender identity and pronouns while at school. It also would have given parents the right to opt their child out of instructions they don’t deem suitable, and would also give parents the final say in determining the religion of the student. 

Wisconsin parental rights

The Wisconsin parental rights legislation also touched based on certain rights that are already a status quo inside schools, like the right to opt-out of sexual education classes. Another item line section gave parents the right to “engage” with locally elected school board members. This line is quite ambiguous as well, as school board meetings in Wisconsin are dubbed “open sessions” with public attendance welcomed. 

When Gov. Evers sent his decision back to the legislators, he added a message for his conclusion to veto the Wisconsin parental rights bill in its entirety. “Parents are the first and best teachers our kids have,” furthermore, he said the bill was aimed at “dividing our schools.” the former state superintendent of schools said. Evers even made note of the back and forth zingers from both political sides, suggesting his focus is on the children, not the politics. “Politicians on both sides of the aisle have to stop using our kids as political pawns. I am vetoing this bill in its entirety because I object to sowing division in our schools, which only hurts our kids and learning in our classrooms.”

The Wisconsin parental rights bill wasn’t the only education legislation Evers vetoed during the Friday session. He also vetoed a bill that sought to dissolve the Milwaukee Public School District in favor of smaller ones. When making this decision, Evers said his veto was strictly made in regard to the fact that the piece of legislation failed to prove that the breakdown would benefit students. Another vetoed bill looked to expand the state’s taxpayer-funded private school voucher program. Aimed at making the program more accessible to families, it sought to remove income limit caps. Lastly, the governor vetoed a bill that would ban any teachings about system racism in schools.

While vetoing a plethora of Republican-backed bills, the Democratic governor isn’t making any new allies from the other side in the culminating months leading to elections. The state’s former lieutenant governor, Rebecca Kleefisch, will be running against Evers next fall and was quick to respond to the governor’s veto of Wisconsin parental rights on social media. Accusing the governor of siding with education officials over parents, Kleefisch said, “As long as he’s governor, he will never stop putting the education establishment ahead of kids and their parents.”

It is unclear as of now whether or not the Democratic governors’ veto of the Wisconsin parental rights bill will hurt or aid his run for re-election. With constituent makeup very mixed, the state was long considered blue before turning red in 2016. Legislators will still get a chance to override the veto, but given the legislation had no Democratic support in chamber votes, it is likely dead in the water for now.