Parent Trigger Would Only Apply to “Small, Narrow Universe” of Schools


Orlando Sentinel education reporter Leslie Postal doesn’t attribute the quote in the title to this blog post to anyone, but it was a point of emphasis that the two top advocates for HB 867 were making at the March 7th hearing.

The bills would give parents a say in the “turnaround” option selected for an F-graded school (there were 34 last year, including Wheatley Elementary in Apopka). The options include closing the school, turning it into a charter or turning it over to an outside management company.

One of the bill’s sponsors said the legislation would apply only to a “small narrow universe” of schools. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be a hotly debated bill during the Florida Legislature’s current session.

Proponents say the bill would give parents more power and a voice in how to improve struggling schools.

“So what is the fear? Are we that afraid of what parents will recommend, motivated purely out of love for their children?” said Patricia Levesque, executive director of Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Florida’s Future.

Just two days removed from withdrawing her lobbyist credentials, Levesque was appearing as Executive Director (lobbyist) for Foundation for Florida’s Future. Odd timing for Levesque as she told FCIR that she withdrew her credentials  as “last November the board expressed an interest in having me work full-time as an employee of the foundation” But that’s the board for the other foundation – the Foundation for Excellence in Education.

Whatever.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Carlos Trujillo (R-Miami), was using similar language during the hearing and testified that much of the bill was already found within federal guidelines under rules of Florida’s Race to the Top (RttT) grant.

So if only a  “small universe” of schools would be affected and Florida is bound already to much of HB 867 by RttT, what’s the point?

Trujillo, who got into a dust-up yesterday with public school advocacy group Fund Education Now, made the outrageous claim that “parents will never steer their children wrong.” Such rhetoric is red meat for the irrational, aggrieved parent, but doesn’t come close to justifying such sweeping policy. But it’s representative of the anger that Trujillo and Levesque want to tap into. One needs to only look at the bitterly divisive parent trigger fights in California to understand the sort of chaos that Trujillo and Levesque are willing to bring to Florida communities.

How come?

Along with the aforementioned reasons that Parent Trigger is unnecessary, is the existence of Florida’s current school turnaround model. It was this factor which enabled a number of republican senators to vote against it last year. As Jeb Bush vowed parent trigger would be back this year and attributed it’s defeat to the senate’s “Byzantine politics,”  it’s fair for Floridians to wonder how much is this about his vanity?

 

 

 

About Bob Sikes

A long time ago and a planet far, far away I was an athletic trainer for the New York Mets. I was blessed to be part of the now legendary 1986 World Series Championship. My late father told me that I'd one day be thankful I had that degree in teaching from Florida State University. He was right and I became twice blesses to become a teacher in the late 1990's. After dabbling with writing about the Mets and then politics, I settled on education.
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5 Responses to Parent Trigger Would Only Apply to “Small, Narrow Universe” of Schools

  1. The 34 failing Florida schools were far out-numbered by the failing charters. Whereas no public schools closed last year, over two hundred charters closed their doors, leaving students and families in the lurch and school districts holding the bag.

    • Fantastic point but the private charters made their money….that’s all that really counts. And another point, if we are going to start listening to parents in closing schools, then how about we start listening to parents when we say NO CC OR NO MORE TESTING. Hmm…think THAT would go over well with Levesque and Bush?

  2. Colleen says:

    Don’t forget that while this law would apply to a “narrow universe of schools” this year, that won’t be the same next year as the FLDOE has already warned us that school grades will drop again next year, as a result of the school grading changes. This bill is just the foundation. Expanding it after passage won’t be a problem for them. It will only hurt our kids.

  3. Please be advised that though the bill prohibits “for profit” companies from paying people to organize petition drives, and prohibits anyone from paying petition organizers on a “per signature” basis, it leaves open room for “nonprofits” (i.e., lobbying interests pooled under 501c3 umbrellas like FEE or the Charter School Alliance) to pay petition-drive organizers.

  4. 3D Learner says:

    Follow the money. When the Common Core Assessments come in, former Governor Bush has indicated that 2/3 of Florida students might initially fail the tests. Then the percent of F schools will go through the roof. I have a number of clients who went to charter schools who now wish they never had. The teachers tend to have less experience, teacher turnover is often very hight, the principals are often newbies and the infrastructure is often lacking. If Parent Empowerment is the key, then train these parents how to effectively partner with their child’s teachers and school. That would be real Parent Empowerment — and would a giant step forward for either party.

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