March 22, 2023 Updated Apr 12, 2023
LET US agree on two things: Parents love their kids. Parents have a right to know what’s going on with their kids in school.
New Hampshire Republicans are fighting to ensure that parents are truly and completely informed when they ask schools about their children through the Parents’ Bill of Rights in Education. This bill, SB 272, affirms that moms and dads in the Granite State can know what’s happening with their children in the classroom. One may think this right would go without saying, but unfortunately, parents have found themselves left in the dark following the actions of several school districts around our state. It became clear from listening to concerned parents that the Legislature must protect their right to learn the truth when asking questions about their own children.
Our Parents’ Bill of Rights in Education states that “Parents have the fundamental right and responsibility to direct the upbringing, education, and care of their minor children and that in order to meaningfully and effectively exercise this right, no educational institution may withhold information about a child, the child’s health, the child’s school environment, or the child’s in-school behavior from the child’s parent or parents….”
If your child is falling behind in math or showing an aptitude for history, you should know.
If your child is going out for the football team, you should know.
If your child is getting into trouble or being disciplined, you should know.
No school should withhold information from parents about a child because the school thinks it knows that child’s interests better than the parents.
SB 272 is carefully crafted to protect children, and explicitly protects students from unlawful abuse while preserving the authority of the Division of Children, Youth and Families, and other child welfare agencies to protect children. If school personnel are concerned that disclosure of certain information may result in acts of abuse, they are required by law to report these concerns to the Department of Children Youth and Families. SB 272 strengthens our state’s mandatory reporting law so that in cases where teachers think there is a risk of immediate harm, they are required to document it as well as report it. Absent a good faith fear of harm to a child, we should not withhold information from parents on the presumption that all parents are abusive.
An objection to the Parent’s Bill of Rights is that it would require teachers to “out” gay children to their parents. This is not true. In fact, SB 272 does not require educators to report conversations with students to parents. But if a parent asks directly about the child’s gender expression in school, this bill reasserts the parent’s right “to be truthfully and completely informed” if the school is participating in that student’s social transition in school.
The other common objection to the Parent’s Bill of Rights in Education is that it “singles out” transgender students. This is also untrue. SB 272 affirms the parents’ right to be informed on all matters relating to their children in school. It contains a specific reference to gender transition because several school boards in New Hampshire have approved or are considering policies that require educators to withhold information from, or even lie to, parents about a child’s in-school gender expression or transition. It is these policies that “single out” transgender students for differential treatment. SB 272 simply restores parents’ rights to know what is happening with their children.
Our Parent’s Bill of Rights in Education is essential to ensure that good parents are provided with complete and accurate information affecting their children’s development. This bill helps parents be the best parents they can be by offering their children the kind of love, support, and access to appropriate professional care that only families can provide. SB 272 is about doing right by New Hampshire parents, doing right by New Hampshire students, and making sure parents have the information they need to raise healthy, thriving children.
Sen. Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro) is Senate president and represents District 3. Sen. Sharon Carson (R-Londonderry) is Senate majority leader and represents District 14.