Understanding the Floor Vote for HR5: The Parents Bill of Rights
March 22, 2023
In just over two weeks, the H.R. 5, the Parents Bill of Rights Act (PBOR), a bill intended to give parents more control over their child’s education - was reintroduced, marked up, and passed out of the House Education and Workforce Committee. Voting by the U.S. House of Representatives begins today and is expected to pass this week. You can read AASA’s letter in opposition to the bill here.
News coverage (including press releases from Congressional members) has largely focused on several parental rights and related school requirements identified in the Education and Workforce Committee's PBOR Fact Sheet and the potential negative impacts that PBOR may have on LGBTQ children. Many people would be surprised to learn that the Parent Bill of Rights primarily amends the two major federal student privacy laws - the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA).
This isn’t to say that amendments to FERPA and PPRA aren’t necessary; they absolutely are. However, the amendments that PBOR makes seem likely to hurt students’ educational opportunities, be ineffective at addressing the student mental health crisis, and massively upend the basic functionality of schools.
We are most concerned about the provisions that are not being discussed and are likely to have wide-reaching consequences:
- Giving parents the right to object to their child using any education technology;
- Allowing parents to opt-out of their child’s data being collected, used, and shared for legitimate educational purposes; and
- Requiring parents to opt-in to surveys or assessments regarding 8 protected categories of information, and to any medical exams (unless there’s an emergency), with no provisions made for students who may need help and can’t get a signed permission slip; and.
- Requiring schools to report the gender identity of trans kids to their parents with no exceptions - even if they know the child will be abused as a result of that disclosure.
To put this in perspective, read this blog post from the Public Interest Privacy Center (PIPC), which supports the AASA Student and Child Privacy Center, with background information on current student privacy law and how PBOR may change the status quo. AASA has established policy priorities specific to student and child data and privacy. This analysis is informational, and any AASA advocacy positions or nuance are available on the AASA website.