AB963 Parental Bill of Rights

In March, AB 963 known as the “Parental Bill of Rights” passed our state Republican led legislature. One of its Senate co-sponsors, Senator Stephen Nass, praised the bill saying many public-school teachers and administrators are making children “endure their efforts at political indoctrination.”

Along with this unfair claim and others, he says our educators are carrying out an agenda “to change the country by convincing children to hate America, its culture, traditions and constitutional form of government.”

This characterization of our educators contradicts the truth. The vast majority of adults heading to work at our public schools each day care deeply about our children and country. Teachers create lesson plans to nurture the intellectual growth of over 20 children in their classrooms. Social workers, principals and teachers help students recognize and change behaviors hurtful to themselves and others, aiding their development into emotionally healthy adults.  Coaches and teachers lead team activities that reinforce our democratic values of working together, respecting one another and valuing the strengths and contributions each person brings to a group effort.

Implicitly undermining confidence in our educators, this bill gives parents the right to sue school districts or employees if they believe any of the bill’s fifteen broadly defined rights have been violated.  Costly drawn-out legal challenges would result in hardships, financial and otherwise, to school district employees and school district members.  Taxpayers would assume the burden of these legal efforts.

Should this bill ever be written into law, it is very likely that the already declining pool of educators in Wisconsin would be further drained. Several studies have shown Wisconsin ranks in the bottom half of the best states to teach in based on salaries and other markers. We cannot afford to have this ranking drop even further by questioning educators’ capacity to work cooperatively and fairly with parents.

Educators in our public-school districts are our neighbors, friends, and fellow citizens. Most of them work tirelessly each day to share the important task of helping prepare our beloved children for their futures and the future of our world leading democracy.