LEWISVILLE, Texas — During another one of his 2022 gubernatorial campaign stops, Gov. Greg Abbott unveiled a plan that would claim to give parents more power in decisions surrounding their children's education.
Abbott was in North Texas on Thursday when he announced his "Parental Bill of Rights" plan at the Founders Classical Academy, a charter school run by ResponsiveEd, in Lewisville. Abbott is currently seeking a third term for governor of Texas.
"Under the Parental Bill of Rights, we will amend the Texas Constitution to make clear that parents are the primary decision-makers in all manners involving their children," Abbott said during the event.
The Texas Education Code already includes a chapter defining parental rights and responsibilities.
Abbott's plan, which was detailed in a flyer at the event, includes giving parents access -- by online means or other methods -- to all course curriculum and materials so that they're aware of what their student is being taught.
According to the plan, parents would also be allowed to "voice their concerns" to school officials and that those officials would have to consider the concerns "quickly and respectfully."
The plan also mandates that educational personnel convicted of giving minors access to "pornographic materials" within school libraries would "lose their public credentials and state licensing."
This comes after Abbott had asked education leaders in November 2021 to look into the availability of pornographic material in school libraries in an effort to "protect Texas students" from inappropriate content. Later that month, parents in Keller ISD clashed over the potential removal of certain books from school libraries. The conversation started after the district removed a book on gender identity from one library.
Lastly, the plan would give parents the option to decide if their student -- pre-K to 12th grade -- should have to repeat a course or grade level. According to the flyer, this is currently law for students in pre-K to third grade.
In a statement to WFAA, the Texas Association of School Boards said it will be reviewing Abbott's plan, saying, in part, "Gov. Abbott is correct that no school system can replace the essential role of parents and guardians in the education of their children."
"We look forward to reviewing Governor Abbott's plan. It's our hope that it doesn't include additional unfunded state mandates or administrative requirements that burden frontline educators. The focus in all Texas public schools needs to be student learning and growth," the statement read.
WFAA also reached out to the Texas State Teachers Association for comment, but the organization said it wanted time to review the plan before making a statement.
Beto O'Rourke, the leading Democrat seeking to defeat Abbott in the gubernatorial race, spoke to WFAA about education issues in Texas, prior to Abbott's plan reveal.
“When I listen to Texas parents across the state in communities like the one I happen to be in today in Austin, but also in really conservative and rural communities in this state, people are not focused on the culture war issues or the things that divide us," O'Rourke said. "They’re really concerned about whether or not their child can read at grade level, how their kid is doing in math class."
"We’ve lost thousands of teachers from our schools. My daughter's middle school is asking the security guard to teach history class right now because they cannot find enough teachers," O'Rourke added. "They sent an email to parents asking them if they will come in as substitute teachers."