Putting Education Reform To The Test

Florida Legislative Leaders Say This Is The Year For The Parent Trigger Bill

myfloridahouse.gov/Meredith Geddings

House Speaker Will Weatherford thinks the "Parent Empowerment in Education" bill will become law later this year in Florida.

The parent trigger bill is back, and Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford thinks it has a good chance of passing this year.

He even tweeted about it shortly after the bill was filed.

“It’s great public policy. It empowers families. It empowers parents, gives them the choices that they need,” Weatherford told StateImpact Florida. “It engages them in the education of their children.”

The measure enables parents at a chronically failing school to petition the school board for significant changes. Turnaround options include firing some or all of the staff, letting a charter school operator take over or closing the school. Seven states, including California, Indiana and Texas, have some version of a parent-trigger law in place.

In Florida, the bill died on the final day of the legislative session last year when a former Senate sponsor cast a deciding vote against the bill. The House approved the bill.

The bill is much the same as it was last year. The main difference this time, according to Senate President Don Gaetz, is in the makeup of the Florida Legislature.

“Some of those who vociferously opposed the parent empowerment legislation last year were termed out of the Senate, and we have some new senators,” Gaetz said. “The concept of allowing parents more control over their children’s schools has got to be a concept that we believe in if we believe in the power of neighborhoods and in the power of parents and in the responsibility for their children’s education.”

Opponents of the legislation say it benefits for-profit companies, could privatize public facilities and gives control to people who may have little educational experience.

But Weatherford notes that the parent trigger bill in California has rarely been used.

“It’s a parental empowerment tool that exists only in extreme cases but still is there in case we ever find ourselves in that position,” Weatherford said.

Weatherford said kids shouldn’t be destined to attend a failing school just because of their address.

“If there is a habitually failing school – for whatever the reason – there should be options for the parents of those students,” Weatherford said.

“Whether that’s a charter school, whether that’s a changing of the administration, there are lots of different options we can give those parents,” Weatherford said. “It’s really just saying that we’re not going to accept failing schools for anybody.”


  • Kathy Diechter

    I have a better one. How about the impact of sales tax revenue being way way down due to the oil spill? Even the city of Tampa is suing. BP just got a way with murder on these claims. No punitive damages. No full recovery. Businesses closing and no new ones in Destin. Or they only last as long as the lease, guess they believed BP…, news like yahoo and the major media only copy and paste PR releases from the Deepwater Horizon and the PSC – bragging about a 95% acceptance rate. What a joke. People were starved out of business and jobs and just took it. That’s illegal. Feinberg would “listen” and ignore. He’s not the economic expert on this area. The locals are. There has never, ever been less than year full recovery after hurricanes. This was much worse. I told my clients if you trust BP, jump in the water and eat the seafood.

    Let’s see this team cover and investigate the claims process from Deepwater Horizon. No more press releases without being questioned.

  • How quickly we forget. Parent Trigger laws are not what you think. In Adelanto, parents wanted to remove their names from the petition
    because they felt mislead by the signature process strategy of signing two
    petitions. I was the board president when Parent Revolution successfully bullied our small district in California with lawsuits to implement the Parent Trigger Law. The judge ruled that the district could not allow parents to change their minds- even if they felt mislead. Parent Revolution is my biggest concern with the Parent Trigger
    Law. The Parent Empowerment Act of 2010 in California sounds great, but it is
    not a grassroots movement. Parent Trigger Laws are not coming from grassroots
    or a parent movement – they are coming from deep pocket lobbyists. These laws create division in the community to allow take over of schools.
    Parent Revolution has big backers and uses that might to prop up Parent
    Trigger. Without Parent Revolution – there would be no Parent Trigger.
    Privatizing public schools with taxpayer money is not the solution to what ails
    our school systems. With over twenty years experience as an educator, I have
    come to the conclusion that the free market private sector, without government
    funding, is where the solution will come from. I am promoting a radical 21st
    century change in education. What about you? http://coachlerningacademies.me/ https://twitter.com/Coach_Lerning

  • Ricardo

    What a crock. I’m sorry, all these wonderful quotes about choice, empowerment is baloney are simply designed to appease the ears of the voting public. This parent trigger bill appears to be simply a privatization scheme: “… letting a charter school operator take over or closing the school.” Where is the opposite scenario: letting the public school system take over a failing charter school? Hmmm.

    We politicize education. We never (it seems) listen to the teachers. And we are, i mean our elected representatives, seem to be governed by the fancy suit (i.e., cash). Last year in Tallahassee the large tribe of fancy suits were worn by prison privateers (the people beat them). This year it is education privateers. The privateers answer to shareholders, Our public schools must listen to us. If the schools are not performing, it is hard to believe that handing off the school to a privateer will solve the problem.

    Granted that are some very good charter schools out there. But remember, the implementation of charters was based on the premise that they would serve as models for the public schools, not replace them. What happened here?

  • Runette Ford

    SERIOUSLY? This is absurd! I think we need a TEACHER Trigger law…..fire the parents who don’t come for conferences, never have a working phone number, never sign/return papers, help their children with homework, come to PTA/Open House, etc….I have had parents I have never laid eyes on and who never help their children…..and this is FIRST GRADE…..

  • concerned for students

    Does this really reflect parent involvement? As others have commented, my students need parents to become involved in their child’s education by attending parent student teacher conferences, responding to telephone, newsletter, website and email communication and making school a priority at home. To often I hear that the parent has not looked at an interim report or report card all year when the parent is reached by the school. My students are frustrated that their parents do not take the time to read/ discuss what is happening at school, allow the student to participate in free tutoring and homework help, family night programs, or provide basic school supplies.
    I want to thank and express my appreciation to those parents who do support their children and the school’s faculty by cooperating and asking for help. Sending a note, making a call and attending conferences that were difficult to attend due to transportation, personal or work concerns is so effective when assisting students.

    Students ask me to call their parents to ask for time to do homework, to stay after school, spend their lunch break in class to get extra help or come early for assistance, apologize for parents who do not come to conferences that their parent scheduled but the student came and waited, and those who miss school because parents repeatedly pick them up early or bring them late to school so they miss their classes. I am concerned for my students who want to be successful.

    If education is a priority for parents then the student will see education as a priority.

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