March 25, 2023
In recent years, we have seen a concerted effort by far-right Republicans to impose their extreme views on every area of American society. From measures to criminalize women who undergo abortions to bills banning drag shows and outlawing gender-affirming care for trans youth, GOP lawmakers continue to prioritize culture war politics over solving the everyday issues faced by working families. Now, even as Democrats work to deliver the support and resources our schools desperately need, House Republicans are instead pushing legislation that would bring their divisive political stunts into our children’s classrooms.
This political posturing has come to a head with Republicans’ latest legislation, H.R. 5 — the so-called “Parents Bill of Rights Act.” Despite its name, this bill tramples on the rights of parents, students, and teachers alike. Among other measures, this bill would force schools to submit to “inspections” of every book in their libraries and every piece of assigned reading material to ensure they comply with draconian standards. We know that laws like this lead inevitably to censorship, as vocal minorities exercise the power to impose their beliefs on all parents and students. Similar bills passed by several GOP-led state legislatures are already driving a rise in book bans. Since Florida passed legislation making it easier to “challenge books and instructional materials they don’t approve,” school districts have been forced to pull classics like Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale from classroom shelves until officials rule on whether their content is “problematic.”
These censorship efforts don’t stop with the banning of individual books. In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis and his administration banned all public schools in the state from offering a new Advanced Placement course on African-American Studies, claiming it imposed “a political agenda.” In Iowa, one superintendent instructed a teacher that it was unacceptable to teach his students that “slavery was wrong.” And in Texas, another school district official suggested that teachers should provide “opposing perspectives” to books about the Holocaust. With H.R. 5, House Republicans are now attempting to bring this kind of chilling censorship to every classroom in our nation.
This bill also continues the GOP’s war on trans children, threatening to withhold funding for critical child nutrition programs from schools that refuse to comply with extremist priorities that harm vulnerable students. In many cases, this legislation would even prohibit teachers from using students’ preferred names or pronouns. Our schools and our children deserve better than polarizing culture wars that further demonize trans youth and deprive students of an accurate, holistic education.
We know that there are real problems facing our schools. Nearly half of educators nationwide have rated the condition of their buildings as poor, with particular concerns about overcrowding and security issues. The threat of gun violence continues to loom over our students, with 156 school shootings resulting in injuries or deaths since 2018. And COVID-19 has caused severe learning loss, with one national study showing that the pandemic has erased more than two decades of progress in math and reading for American students.
Democrats have proposed and passed several measures to address these issues and help our children succeed. Our American Rescue Plan delivered $130 billion for K-12 schools to reopen safely, supporting infrastructure upgrades and efforts to tackle learning loss. Our Bipartisan Safer Communities Act required enhanced background checks for all gun buyers under the age of 21 and provided more than $2.35 billion to expand vital mental health services in schools. And our 2023 omnibus spending legislation created a permanent nationwide program that will provide nutritious meals to nearly 30 million schoolchildren during the summer months. But on each of these measures that would actually support educators and boost student performance, nearly all House Republicans voted no.
An overwhelming majority of Americans agree that lawmakers should focus on providing tangible resources that improve student outcomes, not on picking culture war fights. We cannot allow far-right extremists to impose their views on our educational system by banning books and attacking vulnerable children. Instead, we must work together to support students, educators, and parents with the resources they need to thrive.
As always, thank you for reading.
DID YOU KNOW?
My office and I are working to make sure you remain informed with the latest updates and recommendations from federal agencies. With that in mind, here is some information that may be of interest to you:
- With tax season upon us, the IRS is reminding taxpayers that the Where’s My Refund? tool on IRS.gov is the most convenient way to check the status of your 2022, 2021, and 2020 tax refunds.
- Information for the most current tax year filed is generally available within 24 hours after the IRS acknowledges receipt of an e-filed tax return.
- For paper returns, taxpayers should allow four weeks before checking their status.
- To use Where’s My Refund?, taxpayers must enter their Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification number, filing status, and the exact whole dollar amount of their expected refund for the year they are checking.
- The Where’s My Refund? tool displays progress through three phases: Return Received, Refund Approved, and Refund Sent.
- The tool will provide a specific refund date once the IRS processes the return and approves the refund.
- The fastest way to get a refund is by filing electronically and using direct deposit.
- Even though most refunds are issued in less than 21 days for taxpayers who file electronically and choose direct deposit, some refunds may take longer if the return has errors or has incomplete information.
- The IRS will contact taxpayers by mail if more information is needed to process a return.
- You can access the Where’s My Refund? tool HERE.