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‘Parents’ Right to Know’ bill sees quick passage in Alabama Senate

A new bill that would allow parents to review school curriculum content in advance saw a quick and easy passage Thursday on the Alabama Senate floor.

Dubbed the “Parents’ Right to Know” bill, the legislation was sponsored by Senate President Pro Tem Greg Reed, R-Jasper, and would also establish a mechanism for parents to file complaints regarding school material they find objectionable.

“What we’re doing with this legislation is very simple, it’s just an opportunity for transparency for school boards, superintendents and educators to be able to say ‘these are the things we’re going to do in our classroom during this particular time,’” Reed said when presenting the bill to the Senate Education Policy Committee on Wednesday.

“We’ll put that information on a website so mom and dad, guardians can be able to look at the information and know what’s going to happen.”

Members of the Senate Education Policy Committee take up Sen. Greg Reed’s bill on expanding school curriculum transparency.

The bill would also require complaints to be forwarded to the Alabama Department of Education, which on an annual basis would produce a report compiling all complaints to be delivered to the chairs of the House and Senate Education Policy Committee chairs.

“So if you’re wondering what’s going to happen in the second semester for your sixth grader that’s at the Walker County Schools, that school’s going to be able to put on their website the curriculum, reading requirements, whatever information they think is pertinent to what’s going to be studied in that class,” Reed continued.

“Then, if a person has a complaint related to some of that material, according to this legislation, they can go to the teacher to discuss that.”

When brought before the Senate Thursday morning, the bill saw similar unanimous support, with one amendment that would give teachers the ability to address parents’ complaints via email, proposed by Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, being received favorably by Reed and adopted.

A fiscal note attached to the bill states that the proposal would increase education expenditures by an undetermined amount, and that the bill, if passed, would go into effect on June 1, 2024.

The bill comes at a time when school curriculum material has garnered heightened scrutiny, particularly from conservative lawmakers and advocacy organizations such as Clean Up Alabama and Moms for Liberty. That scrutiny has proven successful in some instances, such as the Alabama Public Library Services’ recent decision to dissociate from the American Library Association, which critics alleged to be promoting inappropriate reading material to children.

“We want educators to continue being able to do their jobs well, and we want parents to be as invested in their children’s educations as possible,” Reed later said in a statement.

“A large portion of schools across Alabama already practice this policy, and implementing similar measures uniformly statewide will help build collaboration between schools and families across our state.”

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