Pennsylvania lawmaker introduces legislation to establish ‘Parent Involvement’ programs in schools

Burns said his legislation would 'encourage' parents to partner in their children's education

A Pennsylvania lawmaker introduced legislation Monday to give parents more power to get involved in their child’s education.

Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria, proposed legislation HB 2851, which would change the state’s Public School Code to require districts to establish "Parent Involvement" programs, policies, and committees. 

The legislation directs districts to create programs that would help find resources for parents to supplement classroom instruction, and "create a pathway to open communication between parents, teachers, and school boards regarding curriculum, academic goals, and support programs," according to the press release.

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School districts are offering incentives and pay raises to get more teachers into the classroom before August.   

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The bill has been sent to the state House Education Committee for consideration.

"We all know that students who have parents actively involved in their education have better test scores, grades, and academic achievement," Burns said in a statement. 

"What I am proposing is a system that would encourage that involvement and ensure that parents are partners in their child’s education."

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American Federation For Children Senior Fellow Corey DeAngelis told Fox News Digital that "school choice is the only way to truly secure parental rights in education" and "Pennsylvania lawmakers should pass a bill to fund students directly and empower all families to choose the education providers that best meet their needs and align with their values."

DeAngelis also criticized Burns for voting against the Lifeline Scholarship Program in Pennsylvania, which DeAngelis said would "truly empower parents with school choice." 

"That bill to fund students instead of systems passed the Pennsylvania House 104 to 98 with only one Democrat in favor, and is now in the state Senate. It appears these representatives against education freedom are attempting to signal support for parental rights – since opposing it is politically disastrous – without doing much of anything to actually empower parents. But parents aren’t going to fall for it. Families want real options," DeAngelis added.

Parents Defending Education founder Nicole Neily reacted to the proposal, telling Fox News Digital that "It doesn’t matter what the letter next to a parent’s name is - children do better in school when their families are involved in their lives, period. It’s common sense to involve families in education, and the fact that this has become a partisan issue over the past 18 months is appalling. This issue transcends both political and racial lines - and bureaucrats who choose to demonize parents do so at their peril."

Pennsylvania parents recently spoke out against the state Department of Education's new gender identity page, which suggests teachers should not make assumptions about students' pronouns, listing "ne, ve, ze/zie and xe" as suggested alternatives students can use.

Protesters demonstrate at the state Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa., Monday, April 20, 2020, demanding that Gov. Tom Wolf reopen Pennsylvania's economy even as new social-distancing mandates took effect at stores and other commercial buildings. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Protesters demonstrate at the state Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa., Monday, April 20, 2020, demanding that Gov. Tom Wolf reopen Pennsylvania's economy even as new social-distancing mandates took effect at stores and other commercial buildings. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

"In addition to the traditional pronouns (he/him, she/her, they), some people prefer to use gender-neutral pronouns, such as ne, ve, ze/zie and xe. If you don't know a student's preferred personal pronoun, it's always best to ask," the Pennsylvania DOE said.

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The issue of education has become a top concern among voters heading into the midterm elections. Since the pandemic, school board meetings have become battlegrounds between parents and school board officials. 

Kid wearing yellow school bag when crossing the street on her way to school

Kid wearing yellow school bag when crossing the street on her way to school (iStock)

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Parents across the country have protested against COVID-related restrictions in schools and controversial curriculum like critical race theory and gender theory. This has reignited the debate on how much control parents have over their children's education. 

Rep. Burns did not respond to Fox News Digital's request for comment.