Gov. Kemp signs ‘Parents Bill of Rights,’ other education bills

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Gov. Brian Kemp at the signing ceremony.

ACLU, other liberal groups criticize the new laws —

Complete text of ‘Parents Bill of Rights’ below —

Governor Brian P. Kemp, joined by First Lady Marty Kemp, parents and students, education leaders, members of the General Assembly, and state and local elected officials, on Thursday signed legislation that empowers students and parents when it comes to the education of their children, as well as Georgia’s hardworking teachers. The following bills were signed during a ceremony at the Forsyth County Arts and Learning Center:

• Parents’ Bill of Rights (HB 1178) — Detailed below, the legislation lists Rep. Josh Bonner of Fayette County as the lead author.

• HB 1084, which prevents divisive concepts and ideologies from invading the classroom and gives the Georgia High School Association authority to protect fairness in school sports.

• SB 226, which removes obscene materials from school libraries.

• SB 588, which ensures school board meetings are transparent.

• HB 517, which fulfills a campaign promise to double the cap on student scholarship organization donations, including the Greater Opportunities for Access to Learning (GOAL) scholarships, to provide greater educational opportunity and choice for families. This increase in the tax credit cap will allow an extra Georgia 4,000 students per year to be served.

• SB 220, which creates a Commission on Civics Education to explore ways in which we can better serve students and ensure financial literacy is taught in schools.

• HB 385, which allows retired teachers to return to the classroom fulltime in high-need areas.

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The new laws have drawn same-day opposition from ACLU-Georgia, which issued the following news release:

“The ACLU of Georgia (ACLU-GA), the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), and the Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA) are joining to support educators, students and parents in Georgia as they monitor how a new, restrictive education law signed today by Gov. Brian Kemp will impact public school lessons about race and racism.

“Educators, students, parents and caregivers are asked to contact the ACLU-GA and the SPLC to report any policy changes to curriculum that may impede their ability to teach or learn. The email is TeachTruth@splcenter.org.

“’Students deserve an honest and inclusive education, and no state or federal lawmaker should stand in the way of that,’ said Jalaya Liles Dunn, director of the SPLC’s Learning for Justice project. ‘The SPLC, alongside the ACLU of Georgia, are committed to working with educators, students, parents, caregivers and community members negatively affected by the law. TeachTruth@splcenter.org is a way to connect with them and receive valuable information to help challenge these laws.’”

“ACLU-GA, SPLC and IDRA are committed to protecting the First Amendment rights of students in Georgia’s public schools. They are also working proactively to support educators and students building more truthful, diverse, and inclusive curricula.

“’No matter where you come from or what you look like, you should have access to courses and curricula that value your culture, identity and humanity,’ says Terrence Wilson, Regional Policy and Community Engagement Director for IDRA.

“’Whether you are white, Black, Hispanic or Asian — most parents want their children to learn about history the way they learn about math — as accurately as possible,’ said Andrea Young, ACLU of Georgia Executive Director.”

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Here’s what Gov. Kemp said about his efforts at “keeping woke politics out of the classroom and off our ballfields” during the signing ceremony in Forsyth County:

“Today, we’re here at the Forsyth County Arts and Learning Center to sign legislation that puts our children ahead of partisan agendas, gets parents back in charge of their kids’ education, and expands school choice for those who need it most.

“HB 1178 – the Parents’ Bill of Rights – provides greater transparency to parents and legal guardians regarding what their student is being taught in school and protects the fundamental right of moms and dads across this state to direct the education of their child.

“Likewise, SB 588 ensures that local school board meetings are transparent, so that every parent knows how their child’s education is being discussed and decided.

“HB 1084 bans the teaching of divisive concepts while also protecting academic freedom and ensuring the Georgia High School Association has the authority to protect fairness in school sports.

“It ensures all of our state and nation’s history is taught accurately – because here in Georgia, our classrooms will not be pawns of those who want to indoctrinate our kids with their partisan political agendas.

“Another bill, SB 226, will also make sure our children are not exposed to obscene materials in our school libraries.

“And fulfilling another promise I made on the campaign trail, HB 517 will double the tax credit program for student scholarship organizations, including GOAL Scholarships, to 120 million dollars for Georgia students in financial need so they can attend the school that best fits their needs.

“SB 220 will also strengthen the quality of civic education our students receive… so that they can truly appreciate all that this country and our freedoms have to offer. It will also ensure that they learn financial literacy in our schools, like the importance of good credit and how to budget properly, so that they are better prepared for the world beyond the classroom.

“And to guarantee that we have experienced, quality educators in our classrooms, I will sign HB 385, which allows retired teachers to return to the classroom fulltime in high-need areas.

“I’d like to again thank the members who supported these great pieces of legislation. Unfortunately, there are those outside our state, and other members in the General Assembly, who chose partisan politics over common sense reforms to put our students and our parents first.

“But standing up for the God-given potential of each and every child in our schools and protecting the teaching of freedom, liberty, opportunity, and the American dream in the classroom should not be controversial.

“Making sure parents have the ultimate say in their child’s education should not be controversial.

“And as the parents of three daughters, Marty and I want every young girl in this state to have every opportunity to succeed in the sport they love.

“That should not be controversial.

“But we weren’t elected by the people of this state to shy away from doing what some may call controversial.

“Because the bills we are signing into law today are about doing what is right,” Gov. Kemp said.

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Here’s what the actual “Parents Bill of Rights” legislation says:

(a) This Code section shall be known and may be cited as the “Parents’ Bill of Rights.” (b) The General Assembly finds that it is a fundamental right of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their minor children. The General Assembly further finds that important information relating to a minor child should not be withheld, either inadvertently or purposefully, from his or her parent, including information relating to the minor child’s education.

e)(1) All parental rights are reserved to the parent of a minor child in this state without obstruction or interference from a state or local government entity, governing body, or any officer, employee, or agent thereof, including, but not limited to: (A) The right to direct the upbringing and the moral or religious training of his or her minor child;

(B) The right to review all instructional materials intended for use in the classroom of his or her minor child;

(C) The right to apply to enroll his or her minor child in a public school or, as an alternative to public education, a private school, including a religious school, a home study program, or other available options, as authorized by law and subject to applicable enrollment requirements;

(D) The right to access and review all records relating to his or her minor child, including, but not limited to, current grade reports and attendance records, unless otherwise prohibited by law;

(E) The right to access information relating to promotion and retention policies and high school graduation requirements;

(F) The right to provide written notice that photographs or video or voice recordings of his or her child are not permitted, subject to applicable public safety and security exceptions; and

(G)(i) The right to request, in writing, from the local school superintendent or school principal the information provided for in this Code section. The local school superintendent or school principal shall produce such information for inspection within a reasonable amount of time not to exceed three business days of receipt of a request. In those instances where some, but not all, information requested is available for inspection within three business days, the local school superintendent or school principal shall make available within that period such information that is available for inspection. In any instance where some or all of such information is unavailable within three business days of receipt of the request, and such information exists, the local school superintendent or school principal shall, within such time period, provide the requester with a description of such information and a timeline for when the information will be available for inspection and shall provide the information or access thereto as soon as practicable but in no case later than 30 days of receipt of the request.

(ii) If the local school superintendent or school principal denies a parent’s request for information or does not provide existing responsive information within 30 days, the parent may appeal such denial or failure to respond to the governing body. The governing body must place such appeal on the agenda for its next public meeting. If it is too late for such appeal to appear on the next meeting’s agenda, the appeal must be included on the agenda for the subsequent meeting.

(iii) A parent aggrieved by the decision of the governing body may appeal such decision to the State Board of Education as provided in subsection (b) of Code Section 20-2-1160.

(2) Unless such rights have been waived or terminated as provided by law, parents have inalienable rights that are more comprehensive than those listed in paragraph (1) of this subsection. This Code section does not prescribe all rights of parents. Unless otherwise required by law, the rights of a parent of a minor child shall not be limited or denied.

(f) Each governing body shall, in consultation with parents, teachers, and administrators, develop and adopt a policy or regulation to promote parental involvement in the public schools. Such policy or regulation shall be posted on each governing body’s public website, and a copy of such policy or regulation shall be available for review on site upon request by a parent. Such policy or regulation shall include: (1) Procedures for a parent to review records relating to his or her minor child;

(2)(A) Procedures for a parent to learn about his or her minor child’s courses of study, including, but not limited to, parental access to instructional materials intended for use in the classroom. Instructional materials intended for use in his or her minor child’s classroom shall be made available for parental review during the review period. If such instructional materials are not made available by a school or local school system for review online, then they shall be made available for review on site upon a parent’s request made during the review period.

(B) Procedures for a parent to object to instructional materials intended for use in his or her minor child’s classroom or recommended by his or her minor child’s teacher; (3) Procedures for a parent to withdraw his or her minor child from the school’s prescribed course of study in sex education if the parent provides a written objection to his or her minor child’s participation. Such procedures must provide for a parent to be notified in advance of such course content so that he or she may withdraw his or her minor child from the course; and

(4) Procedures for a parent to provide written notice that photographs or video or voice recordings of his or her child are not permitted, subject to applicable public safety and security exceptions.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Why not identify these educational bills accurately? They are snowflake laws. Republicans are aghast that students will learn historical truths and apply them to our current culture. Just like the Big Lie that the last presidential election was stolen, these conservatives want to rewrite history to espouse their own narrative.

    I believe that parents have every right to educate their children any way they wish as long as they are paying for a private education. However, I am a tax payer, and any child enrolled in public school should learn objective truth, be exposed to myriad ideas, read controversial books, and recognize that the world is complicated. As a tax payer, I have just as many rights to guide curriculum decisions as any parent. I have a vested interest in seeing the next generation educated honestly and broadly. Foolish parents who shield their children from unwelcome truth injure my society, and I should not be taxed to promote such stupidity.

      • For starters, it is essential to know of our country’s original sins in the treatment of the indigenous population and the African slaves. If this causes little Sally or Tommy some discomfort, good. It certainly causes a great deal of discomfort for me. And banning great American literature instead of explaining it within the culture that it was written is the surest method to ensure ignorance of American history and prevent grappling with how we became who we are.

        We have an enormous problem with immigration now, but we are also a nation of immigrants. Students need to understand the rich history of immigration as well as the problems with open borders. Like everything else in real life, it’s complicated.

        A political party that constantly repeats falsehoods about an election loss can hardly be expected to value truth in academic subject matter.

        The United States is a great nation, not because we have always been right, but because we have always had corrective voices to rescue us from our errors. Rewriting history to shield us from guilt and discomfort makes us modern Russia or Iran and prevents us from righting our ship.

          • Have you read the bill? Do you even know what’s in it? It sounds like you don’t know and you’re grasping at straws. You don’t sound any different than the people who were against FL’s “Don’t Say G*y” bill just because of that moniker that someone put on it. They didn’t even know what they were standing up against. So I’m asking you – what’s in this particular bill that is so repulsive to you? Because it sounds like you’re just a blind follower – whatever you’re told to be for/against, you are, simply because someone told you that you should be.

    • I tend to agree with Stranger in that this “Parents Bill of Rights,” for all its well-groomed intentions, gives more support to the vocal minority attempting to dictate and/or change the narrative in educational learning. Its modern-day purpose, much like the mission of the United Daughters of the Confederacy in the early 20th century, set and control the narrative within the classroom and ignore the overriding wishes of the American taxpayer.

  2. This is antithetical to the GA laws that require students to go to school – you’d have to take it to court but basically state law is in disagreement with itself, and if you wanted to let your kid sit at home and play Xbox all day as education that’s your choice.