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Many parents say proposed parental rights bills have nothing to do with parental rights

Posted Date: 02/17/2022

Many parents say proposed parental rights bills have nothing to do with parental rights

Many Kansas parents are opposing so-called parental rights legislation because they say teachers are already doing an excellent job of communicating with them and these proposed bills are thinly veiled political punches against public schools. 

On Wednesday, hearings on two bills — SB 496 and HB 2662 — brought an avalanche of opposition from parents and teachers and lit up social media. 

Tori Gleason, a parent from Goodland, tweeted “I have access to everything my kids are learning. At USD352 in Goodland, I check Schoology on my phone daily because transparency already exists. I have access to every assignment before and after it's turned in. Between PowerSchool & Schoology there's 100% access & communication.” 

Another parent tweeted, “Umm, between Canvas and ParentVUE and Remindme I get more emails and messages from my kid’s teachers then I can manage. I can see assignments, tests, quizzes, plans and syllabi. I can call, email, even text. Lack of transparency? Not even.” 

This sentiment was repeated numerous times — Parents have more access to what is going on in their children’s classrooms than ever before.  

Supporters of these bills, however, say schools need to listen to parents more. They have complained about teachers using books that are not age appropriate and of teaching about history based on the existence of systemic racism. They also have criticized social and emotional learning and diversity training. 

“In short, if schools truly want what is best for students and have nothing to hide with what is being taught and how it is being taught, there should be unanimous support for curriculum and professional development transparency for institutions using taxpayer funding,” said Elizabeth Patton, Kansas State Director for Americans for Prosperity.   

But many parents and teachers say schools are already doing this. They say these proposed bills go much further and amount to harassment of public schools that will drive many great teachers to leave the profession because they feel devalued and distrusted. Ultimately, they say, this will hurt Kansas students. 

Under HB 2662, teachers must post on the internet a long list of materials above what they already post. 

Opponents of the bill say this will require time and money taken away from instruction and it is unclear if every single instructional activity must either be planned or documented at the start of the year and continually updated.  

Teachers said this amount of detailed posting would remove their ability to respond to different student needs or adjust to changing classroom situations.   

 “Could legislators predict every conversation they would have for an upcoming session or the wording of every bill presented, without the flexibility of being able to change? This is what this bill is asking all teachers in Kansas to do,” said Curt Kornhaus, a teacher at McPherson High School. 

 As it is, many parents say they are well-informed about what is going on in the classroom, whether it’s the traditional open houses and parent-teacher conferences or online parental portals and social media.  

Nikki McDonald tweeted, “My kids attend @OVSHuffRAPTORS  and all curriculum is easy to access on Schoology, which is our online platform. Yep even have my own login. Can see everything. 8th & 9th grades. NBD.” 

Another parent tweeted: “My son’s teacher calls us every week- every students’ parents every week!- to talk about how student is doing, telling us about specific assignments, asks for questions.” 

Two more bills — SB 363 and SB 393 — would require schools to post more information and possibly anything presented or even spoken to students in any school setting. Hearings on those bills are scheduled for today (Thur. Feb. 17) before the Senate Education Committee. 

KASB urges all concerned Kansans to contact their legislators about the impact these bills would have on their schools. 

Here is a link to KASB testimony on HB 2662, SB 496 and SB 363 and SB 393

Here is a link to all testimony on HB 2662 and SB 496