DENVER (AP) – A bill giving parents broad authority over their children’s school curriculum and medical treatment won initial approval Wednesday in the Colorado Senate, where Republicans said parents are sometimes trampled by overbearing school authorities.
But the bill Republicans call the “Parents’ Bill of Rights” faces dim prospects in the Democratic House. Democrats say the measure is too broad.
The bill would allow parents to exempt their children from “any learning material or activity.” Republican sponsors called it a needed check on government.
The bill would stop schools from “infringing upon the fundamental rights of the parent,” said the bill sponsor, Sen. Tim Neville, R-Littleton.
Democrats say the measure goes too far, limiting schools from providing non-emergency medical care without a parent’s permission. Democrats called that a recipe for hiding child abuse.
“If anything, we need to be tightening up our protection of these kids who are most at risk of various forms of abuse,” said Sen. Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood.
Another sticking point in the bill is a requirement that schools tell parents that they don’t have to vaccinate their children.
Republicans insist the law makes no change to Colorado’s current policy on vaccination, with parents already allowed to opt out for religious or “personal belief” reasons.
“The media has definitely spun this bill into the immunization bill … that’s shallow and misguided,” said Sen. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango.
But much of the testimony in committee centered on vaccine policy, and Democrats said the language could encourage more parents to opt out of immunizations.
The Parent’s Bill of Rights is one of many conservative education and parenting ideas getting fresh attention now that Republicans control the Senate for the first time in a decade.
The Senate has also approved a bill to remove racial preferences from higher-education funding. A bill to make it harder for child protective services to remove children is under consideration.
A “Parent’s Bill of Rights” measure was on 1996 ballots in Colorado, but failed.
The measure faces one more vote before it heads to the Democratic House. There, the bill faces certain death. All Democrats oppose the measure.
“A lot of the rights that this bill talks about are already rights,” Kerr said.
LINK: Senate Bill 77
– By Kristen Wyatt, AP Writer
(© Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)