Parents are a child’s first and foremost caretakers. Unfortunately, activists across the country are pushing parental exclusion policies in school districts and state legislatures. PDE Action believes that parental involvement is vital for student success. We advocate for policies that strengthen parental rights, promote classroom transparency, and encourage schools to refocus their efforts on education—not race and gender politics. Our vision for education outlines clear steps that federal policymakers can take to improve America’s education system.
PARENTAL RIGHTS IN EDUCATION
↳ COUNTERING PARENTAL EXCLUSION POLICIES: The Department of Education must release guidance detailing parental rights in education under federal law, including the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA). The department should provide instructions for parents who wish to submit complaints regarding violations of parental rights, including cases in which a district has adopted policies that say parents may not be told if and when their child decides to identify as another gender identity at school. The department should strongly encourage state education departments to publish guidance explaining additional parental rights under state law.
↳ COMMUNITY SCHOOLS: Similarly, Congress should add conditions to funding streams for community schools to ensure that parents are not kept in the dark about medical or mental health treatment provided to their children through community school funding.
↳ STUDENT DATA COLLECTION: The Department of Education should investigate data collection in schools and potential threats to student data security.
WHY IT MATTERS
- 75 percent of voters support policies that would require schools to obtain a parent’s consent before helping a student change his or her gender identity, according to a poll conducted by Parents Defending Education, our partner organization.
- 71 percent of voters support legislation that would require schools to notify parents if their child requests to change his or her gender identity at school.
- The Department of Education has allocated nearly $74 million in grants for schools to provide “wrap around supports and services,” including counseling, to children.
- Schools have repeatedly fallen victim to hackers. Further, 96 percent of websites and applications used in schools expose student data, The 74 reported.
TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY
↳ CONTRACTS: Schools that receive federal funding must publicize and report to the Department of Education all contracts and financial transactions with
- Foreign entities, including governments, businesses, and nongovernment organizations; and
- Third-party contractors hired to provide courses, training, audits, surveys, or other programming for the district, its employees, or students that focus on divisive race or gender ideology, social-emotional learning (SEL), and equity.
↳ COVID-19 EMERGENCY FUNDS: The Department of Education must assess how schools spent Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds (ESSER I, ESSER II, and American Rescue Plan ESSER). The American public deserves to know what percentage of this emergency funding schools spent on improving student achievement versus non-academic programs like surveys and SEL.
WHY IT MATTERS
- The Chinese government fostered ties with 143 American school districts, including three of the nation’s top science and technology schools. In some cases, schools have willingly shared information about school technology with the Chinese government.
- Only 30 percent of voters in key battleground states—Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina, and Nevada—said schools improved after receiving “historical levels of federal stimulus,” according to a poll reported by Ed Week in August 2023.
- Schools spent ESSER funds on SEL programs instead of efforts to improve student outcomes. For example, Fairfax County Public Schools used ESSER funds to ink a $2.4 million contract with Panorama Education, a survey provider that collects data on students’ mental health. Omaha Public Schools spent $460,000 in ESSER funds on SEL.
- States directed ESSER funds to efforts that promote divisive race ideology in schools. For example, California allocated $1.5 billion in emergency funds for staff training on topics including “implicit bias.” New York State received $9 billion in ESSER funds to reopen schools during the pandemic—and provide staff instruction on “culturally responsive sustaining instruction,” “privilege,” and “implicit bias,” Fox News reported.
↳ SEX VERSUS GENDER: The Department of Education must define “sex” in Title IX to mean “biological sex,” not “gender identity.”
WHY IT MATTERS
- Biological males maintain physical advantages over biological females even after hormone therapy, according to a 2021 study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Male puberty causes increased muscle mass and strength, bone density, and other biological characteristics that give men a physical advantage over women.
- More than twenty states have passed laws protecting women’s and girl’s sports teams.
- Women have sustained physical injuries and loss of awards and titles as a result of biological males competing in women’s sports.
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Download PDE Action’s Vision for America’s Schools here.