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The House voted down an opportunity on Tuesday to allow voters to amend the Missouri Constitution to include a “Parent’s Bill of Rights.”
House Joint Resolution 110, sponsored by Rep. Phil Christofanelli, R-St. Peters, was defeated 60-81 after emotional appeals from both sides of the aisle.
“Parents need to absolutely be in the driver’s seat for the upbringing of their children’s lives, especially when it comes to education,” Rep. Nick Schroer, R-O’Fallon and candidate for Republican Senator Bob Onder’s seat, said in support of the initiative. “My response to telling the Republicans to leave teachers alone and to leave school alone: We will when you leave our (obscenity) kids alone.”
Democrats stated Schroer’s speech was made for his campaign.
“I haven’t seen one parent come up here and complain about anything that’s going on in the school system, especially where I am,” said Rep. Marlene Terry, D-St. Louis. “I didn’t hear anybody in committee come up and complain about anything. This is something personal. Like I said, we’re not on TV where we’re promoting our campaign here. We’re talking about children’s lives.”
Ashley Aune, D-Kansas City, expressed frustration about House members not acknowledging parents have full control over their children’s education.
“Y’all can homeschool your kids,” Aune said. “You want that much control, take the control into your own hands become a teacher yourself. … You do not have a right to dictate my child’s education because you’re uncomfortable with the subject matter. Coming in here and pontificating about sexual orientation, gender orientation being taught to young children… Please, please, that is not happening. What is happening is people talking about how life actually works.”
Doug Richey, R-Excelsior Springs, said many parents and teachers communicated their desire for items in the bill.
“This is not limiting teachers to be able to have a conversation in a class that might be unsettling,” Richey said. “That language is in this bill to protect the context of teachers to be able to have conversations that sometimes press people.”
Rep. Rudy Veit, R-Wardsville, told House members he was for parent’s rights in education, but said a Constitutional amendment wasn’t appropriate.
“This book is too big,” Veit said while holding up a copy of the Missouri Constitution. “Everything that we are talking about doing is in the books or can be done by statute. It’s time we exercise restraint.”
Veit also disagreed with the argument the Constitutional amendment was needed to ensure the rights of future parents.
“We’re not smarter than they are,” said Veit, who stated he knows his grandchildren’s teachers. “They probably will be smarter than we are. They can adapt to the time and to the situation easier than we can project it out into the future.”