The Missouri Senate Education Committee passed a bill outlining parental rights with regard to the education of minors by state-funded schools on April 26 by a 5-4 vote. House Bill 1858, also known as the “Parent’s Bill of Rights,” passed the House by an 85-59 vote on April 19. Before HB 1858 goes to the Senate floor, it will go to the Senate Committee on Governmental Accountability and Fiscal Oversight.
In his opening statement on the House floor, HB 1858 sponsor Rep. Ben Baker (R-160) said, “This bill is for every parent who might have been ignored at a school board meeting, and not listened to, and purposefully relegated to sit in silence as business was done. This is about those who have concerns about the content of the classroom and classroom materials, what is being put in front of their child in the classroom.” Proponents of HB 1858 believe it will allow for more parent involvement in education and discourage indoctrination in classrooms.
Opponents of HB 1858 argue that to the bill may prevent teachers from covering important topics and vague language could cause logistical issues in schools. Representative Mike Stephens (R-128) said in response to the bill, “This language [in the bill] can wreak havoc in the classroom. Even though we want schools to be more open and we want the institutions of the public schools to be more open, we still have to have a system that is functional and that is not hamstrung by overkill and overzealous regulations.”
FutureEd has identified 80 bills in 26 states that address parental rights in the education of minors and content taught in classrooms that were pre-filed or introduced in 2022.
For the House vote on HB 1858, 144 representatives voted. There were 11 absent and one abstained. Eighty-five Republicans voted in favor of the bill. Fifteen Republicans and all 44 Democrats voted against. In the Senate Education Committee, five Republicans voted in favor, one voted against, and all three Democrats voted against.
Missouri is one of 23 Republican state government trifectas in the U.S. The Republican Party controls the office of governor and both chambers of the General Assembly. There is a 24-10 Republican majority in the Senate and a 108-49 majority in the House. The Republicans have a veto-proof supermajority in both chambers. In the event of a veto issued by Gov. Parson, the Republican majority is large enough to override the veto without any votes from members of the Democratic party.