File-Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita speaks during a news conference, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020, in Indianapolis.

(The Center Square) – Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita this week released what he calls the “Parents Bill of Rights,” aimed at helping parents have a stronger voice in their child’s education.

“Numerous parents and state legislators have contacted me to express concern about how much indoctrination, not instruction, is being thrust upon students,” Rokita said in a statement. “While American students fall behind the rest of the world in math, science, reading and writing, some schools are prioritizing political agendas over academic achievement.”

Rokita specifically calls out critical race theory, saying it aims to “co-opt America’s traditional U.S. history and civics curriculum by imposing deeply flawed, factually deficient instruction and racial division into the classroom.”

Proponents say the theory behind critical race theory is racism is a social construct, rather than an individual bias and is embedded in public policy and the legal system.

Rokita, a first-term Republican and former Indiana congressman, said “the first line of defense to hold school districts accountable lies with active and engaged parents.”

The 17-page document outlines how school board meetings work and how they are subject to the state’s open meetings act.

It states parents and guardians have a right to question school board members at these meetings, to question and review curriculum and to expect their local school’s curriculum aligns with state and federal law.

“This empowering, multi-part guide addresses how academic standards and curriculum are created,” he said. “It also serves as a roadmap for parents to get involved and provide input and expectations to local education leaders.”

Rokita’s announcement, however, was not without criticism.

A statement from the Indiana Democratic Party said the document is “just an attempt to garner attention, fails to deliver any tangible results for today’s most pressing issues, and holds Indiana and its families back from success in the future.”

Rachel Burke, president of the Indiana Parent Teacher Association, told Indianapolis Public Television station WFYI that she thinks the document is a political ploy.

Burke, who is also president of her local school board, said parents should instead directly contact teachers and administrators.

“School board meetings aren’t designed to facilitate back-and-forth conversations between concerned parents and school leaders,” she said.

Rokita said similar documents will be forthcoming addressing parental rights regarding their children’s medical rights, religious rights and school choice.