House Republicans have injected the federal government into the operation of local schools including curricula. Credit: Woodley Wonder Works


Voting 213 for and 208 against, the House on March 24, 2023, passed a Republican-sponsored bill (HR 5) that would expand the role of parents in areas of K-12 public education that traditionally have been mainly the purview of teachers, administrators and school boards. The bill would allow parents to review and formally object to textbooks, library books and course materials and require parental notification of extracurricular events such as guest speakers in classrooms. Provisions addressing students who identify as transgender would require notification to parents if a youth whose gender at birth was male is allowed to participate in athletic activities designated for females or use restrooms or changing rooms set aside for females. In addition, public school websites would be required to publish a broad range of information about their operations including listings of parental rights.

The bill would not apply to private and parochial schools or home-schooling. Federal funding under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act could be withheld from public schools that fail to grant parents the powers conferred by the bill.

Floor Debate, Pro & Con:

Supporter Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., said the bill would “affirm a parent’s right to review course curriculum, meet with the child’s teacher and be heard at school board meetings without fear of reprisal. [Democrats] are saying [the] bill is punishing teachers or seeking to push a right-wing agenda. This is false. Our education system is spiraling out of control as parents are pushed further outside the classroom. This bill will restore the role of parents….When parents are involved in their child’s education, students thrive.”

Opponent Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., said: “Don’t tell me this is a parents’ bill of rights. This is not addressing gun violence. It’s not addressing mental health. It’s not addressing childcare, pre-K and all the other things that would be part of a parents’ bill of rights. Instead, we’re spending time on a bill that sews doubts about public education and our teachers and also targets our very vulnerable trans kids….The provisions in this bill that ‘out’ trans kids are cruel and dangerous.”

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate, where it was likely to fail.


Voting 203 for and 218 against, the House on March 24, 2023, defeated a motion offered by Democrats that sought to prevent HR 5 (above) from taking effect until the comptroller general certifies it would not lead to the banning or censorship of books or diminish the quality of public K-12 education. The comptroller general heads the Government Accountability Office, a legislative branch unit that conducts auditing and investigations of federal laws and policies as requested by members of Congress.

There was no debate on the motion.

A yes vote was to adopt the Democratic motion.