BOISE, Idaho — Members of the Idaho House Education Committee have approved a bill that says parents have both a right and an obligation to participate in their child’s education.
Rep. Janet Trujillo, R-Idaho Falls, told committee members Tuesday that state law should reinforce parental rights and said the bill doesn’t target any specific curriculum or educational practice.
“This particular legislation does not have any impact on Common Core or any particular testing,” Trujillo said. “It’s simply a way for us as legislators to emphasize that involvement of a parent in education is important.”
Several parents also testified in support of the bill, saying they wanted more control over what their child does in school and hoped the legislation would make schools recognize that parents, not administrators, have the final authority about a child’s education.
Emilee Murdoch, whose four kids attend school in the Blackfoot School District, told the committee that she wanted the power to opt her kids out of standardized testing. She asked her school district if she could keep her kids out of spring testing this year, but was rebuffed.
“Hopefully, my right would be to pull them out and educate them in the best way that I see fit as a parent,” Murdoch told the committee. “I don’t want to be constrained to what they tell me I have to do — I want to have the rights to make those decisions as a parent.”
Julie Lynde, the executive director of the Cornerstone Family Council, also testified in favor of the bill, telling lawmakers that “parental rights are under siege.”
Rep. Ilana Rubel, D-Boise, asked if the bill would give parents the ability to reject assignments on behalf of their kids.
“For instance, if a teacher said everybody has to read ‘Huckleberry Finn’ and write a book report, and the parent said no?” Rubel asked.
The bill simply affirms parents’ rights, Lynde said.
“Parents can already go in and say, ‘My child cannot read “50 Shades of Grey”’ or whatever is in the curriculum,” Lynde said.
Karen Echeverria with the Idaho School Boards Association said her organization didn’t understand the need for the bill. Echeverria says her organization encourages parents to participate in their children’s’ education.
Rep. Lance Clow, R-Twin Falls, said he worried the word “obligation” in the proposed law could in fact force parents to have their kids participate in school activities.
“I am just concerned about the history of the term ‘obligation,’” Clow said. “We have the right to free speech but no one stands on a corner and forces us to make a speech every day. We have the right to bear arms but no one forces us to bear arms … This may create some legal uncertainty, depending on its application.”
The bill now goes before the full House.