Indiana AG releases 'Parents Bill of Rights' to counter influences like critical race theory
Loudoun County parent’s Rachel Pisani, Joe Mobley and Paul Chen speak out on pushback against Critical Race Theory and the school board
"Education policy and curriculum should reflect the values of Indiana families while meeting the mandatory requirements set forth in law," Rokita said in a statement provided to Fox News. "The single, most effective way to ensure school accountability is for parents to engage in their children's education. The Parents Bill of Rights empowers them to do just that."
Rokita's office said that the list of rights, released on Wednesday, clarifies how existing law allows parents to hold their school districts accountable.
They six "rights" include things like "the right and expectation to participate in the selection and approval of academic standards for the State of Indiana." Another reads: "You have the right and expectation to question and review the curriculum taught in your child’s school by questioning local school board and school administrators."
Rokita's efforts come as the nation undergoes a raging debate about racial content in school curricula. He previously led a group of attorneys general in calling on President Biden to withdraw an education proposal viewed as a way to fund CRT in schools.
Across the nation, the anti-CRT movement has deployed a variety of tactics, including lawsuits and state-level legislation. Chris Rufo, a researcher who's been leading the anti-CRT movement, told Fox News that Rokita's proposal represented a "necessary first step."
"Parents have a fundamental right to know what is being taught in the classroom," he said.
"In a time when many public schools districts are adopting divisive and pseudoscientific ideologies such as critical race theory, parents must have open access to the curriculum, training programs, and enrichment activities. They deserve a Parent's Bill of Rights that protects their right to conscience and their children's right to a decent education that reflects their values. This is a necessary first step."
A parents bill of rights has also emerged in Loudoun County, Virginia, which has garnered national attention for the intensity of debate over racial materials in the school system.
The anti-CRT group Fight for Schools PAC has proposed a more comprehensive list designed to enhance transparency and "rebuild" trust between the school board and community. Its first article calls for explicitly banning certain teachings like "capitalism is racist" and that "an individual's moral character is determined by his or her race or skin color." It also includes a statement that would commit the school district to meritocracy, a concept that some left-wingers have claimed is associated with "Whiteness."
Defenders argue that CRT-type training helps enhance dominant groups' understanding and empathy of what the oppressed experience on a regular basis. These types of trainings have also been promoted as ways to "dismantle" or weaken alleged structures imposing burdens through bias and discrimination.
Angela Onwuachi-Willig, an expert on critical race theory at Boston University School of Law, told the Boston Globe that critical race theory helped people understand the complexity of race — beyond "simple" narratives that they may have been taught.
"Racism is not extraordinary," she continued. "Race and racism are basically baked into everything we do in our society. It’s embedded in our institutions. It’s embedded in our minds and hearts."
LCPS' superintendent Scott Ziegler has also defended teacher trainings, saying: "In explaining LCPS' equity priorities, it might be helpful to state what they are not. They are not an effort to indoctrinate students and staff into a particular philosophy or theory. What they are is an effort to provide a welcoming, inclusive, affirming environment for all students."