In a week in which we have seen a former president and a leading candidate for the GOP nomination for the presidency in 2024 arrested and charged, I could write a column talking about President Donald Trump.
The question we must ask ourselves as Republicans is, irrespective of what is going on with President Trump and whether there are future ramifications about arresting presidents, whether we should only be talking about Trump’s legal issues or whether we focus on talking about the needs of the voters.
That is why for me, the recent passing of the Parents Bill of Rights by this Republican-controlled Congress is important. When the Republicans launched their Commitment to America, supporting our children and securing their future was a key promise and priority.
The Parents Bill of Rights focuses on five priorities.
1. Right to know what is being taught in schools and to see reading material.
2. Right to be heard.
3. Right to see school budget and spending.
4. Right to protect their child’s privacy.
5. Right to be updated on any violent activity at school.
The above five points should not be controversial. Repeatedly we can see examples of political meddling in schools while we can see examples from Sweden and the U.K. of where removing politicians from the equation helps educational attainment.
In Sweden, evidence from sciencedirect.com shows three key points from keeping schools open in COVID.
• No COVID-19-related learning loss in reading in Swedish primary school students.
• The proportion of students with weak reading skills did not increase during the pandemic.
• Students from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds were not especially affected.
A study from the New England Journal of Medicine showed that in Sweden:
• From March through June 2020, a total of 15 children with COVID-19 (including those with MIS-C) were admitted to an intensive care unit (schools closed for the summer June 10).
• Fewer than 10 preschool teachers and 20 school teachers in Sweden received intensive care for COVID-19 up until June 30, 2020.
Despite Sweden’s having kept schools and preschools open, the study found a low incidence of severe COVID-19 among school children and children of preschool age during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.
Contrast this with the approach of Democratic-held part of our nation who worked to keep schools shut for months on end. We saw the Department of Justice label parents who had the right to speak at school board meetings “domestic terrorists.”
The L.A. Times, hardly a Republican cheerleader, said in February that there are over 150,000 children expected to be in classrooms in California unaccounted for. That is 150,000 children without hope for the future, and that should concern everyone. The L.A. Times also reported that nearly half of all school children in Los Angeles were chronically absent last year and this rose for students with disabilities to 55%.
We can see in Virginia that when Republicans campaigned on supporting parents, parents responded and said that they wanted to be consulted in their children’s education. This is the same sentiment from 8 in 10 parents polled nationally who want to have influence over what is taught in K-12 classrooms.
There should be nothing controversial about this. As Speaker Kevin McCarthy said on the House floor ahead of the passage of the bill, “The Parents Bill of Rights is an important step towards protecting children and dramatically strengthening the rights of parents,”
The point of this bill is not to have Congress dictate the curriculum or to determine what books are in the library. The aim is to provide more transparency and accountability to education, allowing parents to be informed, and when they have questions and concerns to lawfully bring them to their local school boards.
Democrats will talk about banning of books. Well I have to point out that down the road in Burbank, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men,” Theodore Taylor’s “The Cay” and Mildred D. Taylor’s “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry” all were banned in 2020.
There is nothing progressive in stopping our children understanding that we have a complicated history in the U.S. and children when they become citizens need to understand that history.
Far from being the radicals in education, it is the Republicans who are committed to a common-sense approach, listening to parents and putting our children first. The Democrat Senate should pass our Parents Bill of Rights Bill, and I challenge local Democrats to support it.
Neil Fitzgerald is an international nonprofit leader having served in the U.S., U.K. and globally for various nonprofit and charity boards. Neil served as a conservative council member in the U.K. and as a campaign manager. “Right Here, Right Now” appears Saturdays and rotates among local Republicans.