• The Council of the Great City Schools sent the following letter to the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Education and the Workforce prior to the markup of H.R. 5, the Parents Bill of Rights Act.

    March 8, 2023

    The Honorable Virginia Foxx
    Education and Workforce Committee
    U.S. House of Representatives
    Washington, D.C. 20515

    The Honorable Bobby Scott
    Ranking Member
    Education and Workforce Committee
    U.S. House of Representatives
    Washington, D.C. 20515

    Dear Chairwoman Foxx and Ranking Member Scott:

    The Council of the Great City Schools, the coalition of the nation’s largest central city school districts, writes to offer our perspective on H.R. 5, the Parents Bill of Rights Act pending before the Committee. Urban schools have long supported and encouraged family involvement in our students’ education and view parental engagement as an invaluable tool to further school improvement. Yet H.R. 5 includes excessive and redundant federal requirements that are costly, time-consuming, and unnecessary to improve student performance. The bill also contains problematic requirements, such as provisions that impede school districts’ ability to operate effective instructional programs and ones that may deter the identification of students that need mental health support. The Council does not support H.R. 5 and urges the committee to develop legislation that focuses on the instructional improvements and supports that provide our students with the best opportunity for success in school and life.

    We appreciate the bill’s goal to involve parents and families in their child’s education. Urban school districts provide an endless number of engagement opportunities and have longstanding local policies and state laws to foster this connection. Parental involvement on school-based committees is routine in urban schools, with positions designated specifically for parents and family members to review library materials and textbooks, determine budget expenditures, implement a school safety plan, and develop a school improvement plan to increase student learning. The inclusion of federal requirements in H.R. 5 that, for example, mandate a specific number of in-person teacher meetings per year, the annual disclosure of library and reading materials at each school, and detailed budget publications needlessly duplicate commonplace practices in districts that customarily have multiple parent-teacher meetings, online card catalogs, and regular public meetings for developing annual district-level and school-level budgets that are posted on the districts’ websites.

    We also do not support provisions that hinder districts’ ability to provide the instruction and support that our students need to succeed. Urban school districts have worked hard to ensure that the benefits of content-rich resources are available to our children and have invested in online tools to promote an “anywhere/anytime” approach to learning. Encouraging parental objections to the use of such technology will likely prove extremely disruptive for all students and creates avoidable strictures for school and district staff. Similarly, any restrictions on access to school psychologists and counselors to support mental health will unsettle school districts that are prioritizing the well-being of those students that need it most.

    Urban school districts are committed to their students, parents, and families and have long worked to keep them informed, inspired, and ready to partner with their local schools. Authentic parent engagement is essential to increasing student achievement and readiness for college, career, and life. The Council encourages the committee to develop legislation that will help our districts and school communities reach these goals.


    Raymond Hart

    Executive Director