Putting Education Reform To The Test

Parent Trigger Bill Leads To Debate About “Authentic Parents”


Fund Education Now says Florida lawmakers aren't listening to parents who want no part of the Parent Empowerment in Education bill.

As parent trigger legislation again moves through the Florida Legislature, the group Fund Education Now is mad at the lawmakers who revived the bill after its narrow defeat last year.

The Parent Empowerment in Education bill, better known as the parent trigger, would enable parents at chronically failing schools to petition the school board for significant changes.

Options include closing the school, replacing the staff, principal or both or turning the school over to a charter school operator.

The bill is supposed to be about parents, said Fund Education Now co-founder Kathleen Oropeza, but that’s not who is supporting the idea.

“I do think it is important to recognize that not one single authentic Florida parent asked for this bill last year or this year,” she said. “One of the things we fought very hard for last year is for the perspective of authentic Florida parents to be included in the narrative about this legislation.”

The group says the bill is an effort by the Legislature to privatize public schools.

A press release from the group targets Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, and Rep. Carlos Trujillo, R-Doral.

From the group’s press release:

By filing Parent Trigger again, Rep. Trujillo and Sen. Stargel have shown a profound lack of respect for the empowered parents who fought so hard to defeat it last year.

Florida voters have not forgotten that this bill uses parents’ love to pull the “trigger” and hand their neighborhood school over to a for-profit venture with zero guarantees of providing something better for their children. 
Once again, Florida politicians have collaborated with lobbyists to pass Parent Trigger and increase market share for their Charter School Management clients. They have boasted confidently to the press that passage of Parent Trigger is a done deal. 
Not one legitimate Florida parent group embraces this flawed legislation. Florida politicians stand alone in promoting Parent Trigger and its profit-driven scheme designed to rob taxpayers of their capital investment in public schools. 

Rep. Trujillo has some criticism for those who doubt his motivation for sponsoring the bill.

Here is a portion of his statement to StateImpact Florida:

Concerning the statement regarding “an authentic parent” – the group is clearly incorrect.  I highly suggest that members of Fund Education Now review the public testimony given by parents during the House Choice and Innovation Subcommittee. 

I did, however, notice paid authentic lobbyists in the Subcommittee meeting: Florida Education Association (15 lobbyists registered to lobby the Legislature) and United Teachers of Dade (5 lobbyists registered to lobby the Legislature) who seem to have been advocating for their membership more so than their students. 

I do not believe our actions show a lack of respect, but I do believe that we our committing a serious injustice by not implementing policies to improve chronically failing schools. 

It is much easier to attack and criticize those who are taking proactive steps to empower parents and provide a better education for our children, then it is to propose alternatives to improve these schools. 

Current Florida Statute already provides local school boards with four turnaround options (one of which is the option to convert the chronically failing school into a charter school).  However, it seems as though critics only point to the charter school option. 

The turnaround option suggested by parents is exactly that, a suggestion – it is not the final determination.  The final determination of which turnaround option to select is ultimately made (by) the Department of Education.

So who did show up? According to House documents, here’s who signed in:


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