Parents – watch out for parent trigger proposals in your state

PAA member Caroline Grannan recently posted this update on the parent trigger, explaining that, despite well-funded propaganda, there are no successful parent trigger programs. The Parent Revolution, which pushed the California  parent trigger law, has apparently abandoned the strategy.

Yet parent trigger proposals are popping up all over the country, including Florida. Details in this PAA press release:

For immediate release:                   January 10, 2012

Why Parents Across America Opposes Florida’s Parent Empowerment Legislation:

It represents neither real parent choice nor genuine empowerment.

Florida’s new legislation is modeled after California’s Parent Empowerment Act passed in early 2010.  It is widely supported by backers of corporate reform.

The law creates a process known as the “Parent Trigger,” which allows a majority of parents at a low-performing school to sign a petition to trigger one of a narrow set of options – firing all or some of the staff, turning the school over to a charter operator, or closing the school.

None of these options improve the quality of the neighborhood public school.

Although PAA strongly supports authentic parent empowerment, we oppose this Parent Trigger process. While the Parent Trigger allows parents to voice discontent, it affords no opportunity to select among more positive reforms, and it fails to promote the best practices for parent involvement from the ground up.

The Parent Trigger process creates potential for abuse, turmoil, and massive divisiveness within school communities. It undermines the democratic process by  privatizing public space and strips control from School Boards whom we’ve elected to represent us.

We support a process in which parents are authentically involved at the ground level in developing strategies for improvement.  These strategies might include smaller class sizes, more reading coaches, emphasis on increased  parent involvement, or other proven reforms.

After researching and witnessing the Parent Trigger’s disastrous attempt to privatize CA schools, Parents Across America co founders and members believe the underlying goal of this law was to turn public schools over to charter operators.

Genuine parental empowerment is the core of PAA’s mission. However, we vehemently oppose the dismantling of neighborhood public schools currently serving the entire community for the purpose of hand over to private entities serving selected students.  We fear the pattern seen elsewhere will be replicated if this legislation is passed.

1)   Our most vulnerable, at risk, and special needs students will be abandoned.

2)   The community will lose its vital connection to its local public school — a source of stabilty.

3)   Parents will be excluded – as they are in most charters– in developing research-based to collectively address challenges they face.

4)   The Parent Trigger process pits parents against teachers (the exact opposite of what’s needed).  It also pits parents against Principals; parents against parents.  Communities must be united to work together for positive change especially in these economically challenged times.

5)   Home to school partnerships and parent-community assistance are critical to student success. The Parent Trigger process undermines that process entirely.

6)   Parent Trigger “transformations” can severely impact other communities by over-crowding nearby schools with students excluded by the charter; by siphoning much needed education dollars from district budgets, or by accommodating students elsewhere when the charters experience financial crisis and suddenly close.

In summary, PAA views the Parent Empowerment Law as a distraction from the real work our schools require -implementing proven, common-sense strategies for parent involvement and meaningful, sustained education reform.  Research on the devastation of this law can be obtained on:

We urge Florida lawmakers to oppose this destructive and divisive legislation.

Posted on by Julie Woestehoff Posted in Uncategorized