Putting Education Reform To The Test

Parents Say They Were Shut Out On ‘Parent Trigger’ Debate

Florida House

Rep. Mike Bileca is one of a handful of sponsors of the 'parent trigger' legislation. Parent groups opposing the bill feel they have been shut out of debate.

Education activists say Florida lawmakers have repeatedly shut down public comment on a bill that would allow parents to choose how to restructure

Fund Education Now, 50th No More and other groups critical of Florida’s recent education policy say that at each of three State House hearings on the so-called ‘parent trigger’ bill, those opposing the idea had little or no time to make their arguments. The parents noted they drove several hours, hired babysitters and missed time with their children to travel to Tallahassee.

UPDATE: Parent Revolution, the California-based group that supports parent trigger legislation nationwide says Florida unions are creating “boogeymen.”

A Senate committee approved the bill Saturday and it now heads to the Senate floor. The House approved the bill last week. Here’s all you need to know about the ‘parent trigger.’

A coalition of parent group’s held a press conference in Tallahassee this morning. From the group’s press release:

We are frustrated that many of the politicians in this building refuse to hear or acknowledge our voice.  For the third time in a week, a real Florida parent testifying against “Parent Empowerment” was cut off in mid-sentence after less than 15 seconds.  We travel to Tallahassee on our own dime.  We arrange for baby sitters, help with homework over the phone and miss countless precious hours of our children’s lives in order to tell our elected officials what we want.  We’re tired of being cut off, interrupted or not allowed to speak.  We’ve heard one politician after another repeat that “parents really need to be empowered.”   The irony is that we are empowered.  We’re here.  We’ve been here.  We represent over half a million Florida parents. 

When politicians grant highly paid professional lobbyists unlimited time to testify and refuse to let us speak, it makes us furious.  We are Florida taxpayers, parents and voters.  If we don’t have a right to speak during “Parent Empowerment” testimony, who does?  We are tired of being told by wide-eyed politicians that they have never heard from us. Our position on the Parent Trigger has been repeatedly and widely published by every major newspaper across the state.

Here’s Parent Revolution’s statement:

Despite these remarks by national Democratic leaders, opponents to the Parent Trigger are continuing their campaign of boogeymen and conspiracy theories. This week, the Florida Education Association (FEA) continues their incredulous and unsubstantiated campaign to confuse parents and misinform the public. In fact, Parent Trigger would only affect the bottom 6 percent of schools or around 200 schools out of Florida’s 3,000 schools. Additionally, the Parent Trigger’s charter option– one of four options that would be available to Florida parents – creates an additional hurdle for any charter school to overcome rather than ease the process. Current Florida charter law is a far simpler process in which parents are not a part of the conversation.

What’s your view? Do you feel the public is given a say in Tallahassee?


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