Putting Education Reform To The Test

Parent Trigger Bill Passes Florida House

LaCrai Mitchell/StateImpact Florida

The parent trigger survived a House vote, just as it did last year. Now, it's the Senate's turn.

Just as it did last year, the Florida House has passed the parent trigger bill following much debate.

The bill’s official title is Parent Empowerment in Education.

It gives parents a say in what changes should be made to a chronically failing school.

Turnaround options include closing the school, turning the school into a charter, and replacing the principal or the entire staff. The ultimate decision rests with the local school board.

Rep. Cynthia Stafford, D-Opa-locka, doesn’t see a need for the law. “Not only do parents have a voice, they have a seat at the table” already, she said.

Democrats have repeatedly argued against the bill, saying it’s designed to privatize education and turn public dollars over to for-profit charter school companies.

Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, doesn’t think that’s such a bad thing.

“If private enterprise can bring us a better answer, we need to embrace it and thank them for it,” Baxley said.

Patricia Levesque, executive director of the Foundation for Florida’s Future, says every provision in the bill is designed to give parents more say in their child’s education.

“It makes sure that parents have a little greater power in either where their child’s assigned, what teacher their child gets assigned to,” Levesque said, “and a greater say in how to turn around their child’s school when the school board is having to make those decisions.”

(The foundation has been a powerful advocate for the bill. We’ll hear more from Levesque about her mission and what she says to her critics on Monday.)

The House approved the bill 68 to 51.

Now it’s up to the Senate. That’s where the bill died last year on the last day of session in a tie vote.



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