Chairman Cole Hearing Remarks on H.R. 5

As prepared for delivery:

Good afternoon.

Our business today is to consider H.R. 5, the Parents Bill of Rights Act.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused significant disruption to the life of every single American, but one of the harshest impacts was inflicted upon America’s children. Across the country, schools closed or shifted to a hybrid model with limited in-person instruction.  For millions of students, that meant being pulled from the classroom and forced into virtual education that was inadequate, and in many cases damaging.

Unsurprisingly, student progress clearly plummeted. Reading scores suffered the largest decline since 1990, and mathematics scores dropped for the first time ever.  Mental health problems among children soared as students struggled with the repercussions of isolation and loneliness. Indeed, the consequences of shifting children into virtual learning during the pandemic will be felt for generations to come.

The situation also enabled some parents, for the first time, to see exactly what their children were being taught. Many were shocked to find divisive topics like Critical Race Theory and progressive gender ideology pervasively included throughout coursework.

In response, parents understandably attempted to reclaim their oversight of their children’s education from a coercive federal government. They called for schools to reopen, to prioritize the physical, social, mental, and educational well-being of children, and to refocus curriculum to essential topics outside of leftist ideology. While some states and school districts heeded these calls, many did not. In many cases, parents who stood up to make their voices heard were branded as “disruptive” and even as having the potential to commit “domestic terrorism.”

Today’s bill values the fundamental role parents play in the upbringing of their children. With the passage of H.R. 5, we will ensure that key parental rights are protected, and will ensure that our classrooms will be places of learning and growth, and that parents, families, educators, and administrators are all on the same page. 

I know my friends on the Democratic side of the aisle have expressed concerns that this bill will ban books or constitute a gag order against teachers. But nothing could be further from the truth.  Nothing in this bill would do those things. Instead, what the bill does is to ensure that parents have a voice in their children’s education, and ensure that schools are communicating directly with parents.

Like every other institution in America, schools must be accountable, and this bill will ensure that accountability to the people who matter most: parents who are deeply concerned about their children’s education, and their children’s future.


Mar 23, 2023