Putting Education Reform To The Test

With Senate Vote Near, Who Supports The Parent Trigger?

Max Whittaker / Reuters/Landov

Questions have been raised about petition signatures submitted by StudentsFirst. The group was founded by former D.C. school chancellor Michelle Rhee and supports parent trigger laws around the country.

The session’s most controversial education bill — the parent trigger — hits the Senate floor today.

The bill would allow the majority of parents at a school earning a failing grade to choose how to restructure the school. The options include closing the school, firing the principal or staff and converting to a charter school.

But as a vote nears, a petition and video from parent trigger supporters have been questioned.

Miami Herald reporter Kathleen McGrory found a mystery video from a group called Sunshine Parents had been produced by California-based Parent Revolution, a leading supporter of parent trigger laws across the country.

McGrory also found three people listed on a petition submitted by StudentsFirst, another advocacy group supporting the parent trigger, who claimed they had not signed the petition.

Blogger Bob Sikes jumped on the story and contacted people listed on the petition. Some said they did not sign the petition. Sikes also found names repeated and people who live outside of Florida on the petition.

A Miami Herald survey found 212 of 241 people who responded said they had signed the petition.

Opponents of the parent trigger have claimed the bill is being pushed by professional advocacy groups — perhaps funded by the charter school management industry — and doesn’t have the support of actual Florida parents.

Today’s vote is expected to be close. Opponents of the parent trigger told us Saturday that they don’t know how the Senate will vote.

Last year, the bill failed on the session’s final day on a tie vote. Questions about the veracity of petitions or promotional videos might influence a crucial vote.


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