SB157 puts parental rights above all other considerations when it comes to public education.
A new bill in the Utah legislature would give parents permission to sue schools or education officials for any perceived violation of their parenting rights.
SB157 by Senator John Johnson, R-Ogden, offers parents a comprehensive legal position to “obtain legal and other assistance” to exercise their parenting rights.
The proposal therefore lists several areas in which parents would be allowed to assert their rights when it comes to their children’s education, including curricula, textbooks, teaching materials, teacher training and curricula, among other things. .
Johnson’s account is full of language to make it clear that parents are the ultimate authority when it comes to their children’s education. Parents have “primary authority and responsibility for the upbringing” of their children, and the only task of the state and local government is to “support and assist” rather than “interfere or conflict with” the parents. The legislator, school boards and public schools have the mission of “respecting” and “protecting” the interests of parents.
The bill appears to create a free legal act in which a parent can sue and seek monetary compensation if they hear any aspect of their child’s education about their parenting rights or find it questionable. This could include suing the legislator for passing a law that they believe violates their rights to the point of suing individual teachers for a classroom assignment.
One group Johnson excluded from discussions on the proposal was the Utah Education Association, the largest teachers union in the state. The first time they saw the bill was when it went public this week.
“This type of legislation is an attack on public schools and pits parents against teachers. Parents and teachers are both essential to student success. Our overworked educators need no further attacks on their profession right now. They need support. They need parents to step up and commit, not legislators to talk and encourage unnecessary controversy, “said Heidi Matthews, president of the UEA.
Johnson did not respond to a request for comment.
Johnson’s bill also appears to be fighting with the federal government over public education. The bill states that “there is no valid authority or basis for direct or indirect involvement” by the federal government in public education in Utah.
Utah received $ 384,527,300 in federal funding in 2022, which represented about 6% of Utah’s $ 6.33 billion public education budget. This does not represent an additional $ 683 million in one-off funds related to the pandemic. A fight with the federal government over regulations or conditions attached to that funding could put that money at risk, leaving lawmakers to make a difference.
The bill is currently in the Senate Rules Committee pending a commission appointment.