Myth vs. Fact: Kansas’ Parents’ Bill of Rights (SB 496)

March 17, 2022

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Parents have the responsibility to ensure their children’s wellbeing — and they do not lose their rights or responsibilities when they enroll their children in public school. Kansas parents have the right to be aware of and involved in crucial decisions regarding their children. The Kansas Parents’ Bill of Rights (SB 496) would protect a parent’s right to:

  • Review their child’s academic and health records

  • Review curriculum and instructional materials used to teach their child

  • Engage their local school board with questions and public comment at school board meetings

  • Make the best healthcare and medical decisions for their child

  • Protect their child from discrimination by prohibiting students from being required to adopt or adhere to ideas that violate the Civil Rights Act of 1964

SB 496 puts parents back at the helm of their kids’ education by simply providing much-needed transparency in public schools and giving parents the tools to decide what is best for their own children. The truth is that moms and dads—not teachers and school administrators—know their children best.

While the corporate media and Left-wing advocacy groups have spread misinformation surrounding this bill, SB 496 is a common-sense measure. A December 2021 poll of registered voters in Kansas who are parents and grandparents of school aged children found 88 percent believe a parent should have the primary say in their child’s education. This view crossed geographic and ideological lines – even 73 percent of self-professed liberals believe parents should have the ultimate say.

Here are the facts:

Myth 1: SB 496 is unnecessary and duplicates existing district policies and state laws.

In Kansas, there have been instances where school boards have restricted parents' ability to voice concerns at local school board meetings. The ballot box should not be parents’ only opportunity to engage their school board and hold elected officials accountable. The bill makes clear Kansas parents have the right to raise their concerns and engage their local school board in both public and private settings.

December 2021 polling found 57 percent of Kansas parents were very or somewhat concerned about what their students were being taught. Transparency is a key step to building trust, and SB 496 would increase visibility for a parent into their child’s education. The bill makes explicit that a Kansas parent should have easy access to information involving their child, whether it be to their curriculum, academic records, or health records.

These policies would help create better and more open communication between parents and school districts.

Myth 2: SB 496 would drive away good teachers.

Polling shows that teachers want more involved parents. In a poll of teachers, conducted by EdWeek Research Center in November 2021, a clear majority of teachers polled agreed that parents should be somewhat to very involved in selecting curriculum and materials in their districts. However, only 31 percent said parents were involved. A majority were also in favor of allowing parents to opt their children out of classes, curricula, or units of which they disapprove.

Ensuring parents have access to course materials and student records equips parents to take an active role in their child's education. This is a win for teachers, and most importantly, a win for students.

Myth 3: SB 496 would prohibit critical thinking and discussion of slavery or other difficult topics about history.

This bill reaffirms the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and makes clear that teachers and students, “shall not be compelled to affirm, believe, profess or adhere to any idea that violates the civil rights act of 1964.”

As former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice stated, “We teach the good and we teach the bad of history. But what we don’t do is make 7- and 10-year-olds feel that they are somehow bad people because of the color of their skin. We've been through that, and we don't need to do that again for anyone." Those are the values this bill defends.

Myth 4: SB 496 would increase the risk for preventable disease.

The bill protects a parent’s right to make healthcare and medical decisions for their child. There have been cases in states like Wisconsin where school districts have encouraged students to identify as the opposite sex at school and instructed teachers to deceive parents. In Kansas, one district was discovered to have handed out a worksheet in class asking students who they are attracted to and how they identify.

Gender dysphoria is a serious mental health issue, and parents should decide the treatment for their child’s mental health, not schools. This bill ensures a parent is not excluded from important life-altering decisions which affect their child’s entire well-being.