Encouraging Parental Empowerment
Even though I strongly support local control of our schools, I think that the involvement of higher levels of government sometimes becomes necessary.
Parents nationwide are alarmed by what they’re hearing from their children and in news reports about what’s actually being taught in our schools. This has caused Congress to step in through the drafting and passage of HR 5, otherwise known as the Parents Bill of Rights Act.
HR 5 passed the U.S. House of Representatives in late March but is unlikely to pass in the U.S. Senate. That’s too bad, because I think this piece of legislation would go a long way towards empowering parents who want to be involved in their childrens’ educations.
If HR 5 eventually becomes law, school districts would have to comply with its provisions in order to continue receiving federal funds.
It would require schools to notify parents and guardians of their rights. Curriculum for each grade level would be required to be posted on a public website. Parents and guardians would be able to review that curriculum and make copies of it at no cost. They would be guaranteed the ability to address their local school board and be informed about violent activity at their child’s school.
Under HR 5, districts would be prohibited from selling student information for commercial or financial gain. They would be required to engage meaningfully with parents to develop privacy practices and procedures.
States sometimes change their challenging academic standards. They sometimes eliminate programs for gifted and talented students or other programs that enable students to receive college credits. HR 5 would require school districts to inform parents and guardians if any of those changes are made.
Parents and guardians would be able to meet with each of their childrens’ teachers at least twice every school year. They would also be able to review the district’s budget and the materials made available to students at their school libraries.
We all know that students can struggle. Far too often, those students are simply passed on to the next grade level, without being given the support they need to meet key benchmarks. HR 5 requires parental and guardian notification if their child is not grade proficient in reading or language arts at the end of the third grade.
Opponents of HR 5 question why any of this has to become law. Well, there’s been a growing disconnect between parents, guardians and community members and what goes on inside the classroom.
There should be as few barriers as possible for parents and guardians who want to actively participate in their child’s education. School districts and their board members should do everything they can to ensure it. However, this doesn’t always happen.
One of the biggest issues of my campaign for Eugene School District 4J Board Position 1 is the need to encourage parental empowerment. This should be done at every level of government, from the local school board all the way up the state capitol in Salem and, ultimately, our national capitol of Washington D.C.
I’m Dr. Michael Bratland, and I’m asking for your vote and support in this May 16 election.