Minnesota lawmakers vote on Parental Bill of Rights education bills

The Minnesota State Senate March passed three education bills promoted by Republican state senators as part of what is described as the Parental Bill of Rights. The bills aim to increase parental access to instructional materials in public schools and prevent what is characterized as harassment of parents who testify at school board meetings. 

One of the bills, sponsored by state Sen. Paul Gazelka (R) of East Gull Lake, passed the Senate by a 37-30 vote on March 3. The bill would require school districts to have procedures that would allow parents to review all instructional materials “without cost and immediately on request.” The bill also includes a provision that would add a notice requirement to a law that already stipulates schools to make what they deem reasonable arrangements for alternative teachings when parents object to curriculum content. 

Democratic state senators, including Melissa Wiklund, argue the bill would put financial pressure on school districts by causing a surge in expensive data requests. They suggest the bill should focus instead on expanding school resources.

Republican gubernatorial candidate and state Sen. Michelle Benson of Ham Lake authored a separate bill that would require teachers to make class syllabi accessible electronically to students and parents within the first two weeks of instruction. Benson’s bill advanced through the Minnesota Senate on March 10 by a 36-31 vote. 

The third bill aims to bar school districts from requiring parents testifying at board meetings to disclose their addresses in an effort to protect testifiers from potential harassment and threats. The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Roger Chamberlain (R), passed the Senate by a 67-0 vote on March 3.

Most of the bills featured in the Parental Bill of Rights are not expected to make it through the Democratic-controlled Minnesota House of Representatives, according to the Duluth News Tribune