Parent Trigger “Uses Parents Like a Cheap Dinner Napkin”


The following is an opinion piece from Kathleen Oropeza, co-founder of FundEducationNow.org. She has granted permission to publish it here.

Despite a bruising defeat in the 2012 Florida Legislative session, parent trigger is something proponents are too stubborn to drop. Anointed 2013 sponsors Rep. Carlos Trujillo and Sen. Kelli Stargel, struggling to re-position their brand say, “We want to give parents a seat at the table.”

Thanks, but no thanks. Parent trigger uses parents like a stack of cheap dinner napkins. It “empowers” us to do the grunt work then mutes our voice. Parents are expected to blindly pull the trigger without any guarantees and transfer a valuable public asset to for-profit charter chain investors — the very folks who funded the creation of parent trigger in the first place.

Every Florida parent, regardless of socioeconomic status, has the legal power right now to set the table thanks to public School Advisory Councils (SAC). Before Florida politicians got dollar signs in their eyes over privatizing public education, they created SAC, a collaborative legal framework that helps parents, teachers and school districts address issues facing any school. It is in this context that struggling schools are turned around each year across Florida with very little fanfare, just a lot of hard dedicated work.

Why resurrect a parent trigger that Florida parents don’t want or need? Loss comes hard to folks who think they own the winners circle. It’s hard to justify a $2 million marketing campaign getting smoked by a handful of senators and hundreds of thousands of pesky Florida parents who refused to back down and shut up about the shameful parent trigger scheme.

Florida’s political bullies are notorious for using the “assumptive close” to publicly predict victory before a bill is even filed. So, to protect egos and political capital, parent trigger is back on the ed reform lazy susan for another run.

It’s instructive to observe the committee stops for parent trigger this year. Without fail, the same lobbyists, foundations, chamber types and paid-to-witness ex-legislators stand up proclaiming their fervent need to “help” parents get a voice. Equally without fail, 20 or more authentic parents from across Florida testify in opposition against three or four paid lobbyists.

Proponents even held a press conference to dissect the “myths” about parent trigger. Where’s the news? The same well-heeled professional proponents showed up. Not one Florida parent was there. Bordering on satire, they tried to throw the Florida PTA under the bus by questioning their status as parent representatives. That’s just silly. What member of the Tallahassee press corps is buying that?

There’s no bigger waste of taxpayer time and treasure than lawmakers who refuse to respect the will of the people. No Florida parent group supports parent trigger legislation.  A rock-solid alliance of nearly a million parents across the state including NAACP, Fund Education Now, League of United Latin American Citizens, Florida PTA, Florida Gifted Network, Parents Across America FL, Testing Is Not Teaching, Marions United, Support Dade Schools,  50th No More, Citizens For Strong Schools and a host of local grassroots groups stand opposed to this deceptive scheme.

The Florida School Boards Association, whose members are the elected voice of millions of voters in the state’s 67 school districts, approved a resolution opposing any parent trigger initiatives.

Empowered parents across Florida exist at every level. It’s condescending that Florida politicians don’t respect that. Our blood, sweat and love place parents legally and morally at every table where the education of our children is discussed. No politician or flawed piece of parent trigger legislation can or ever will do that.

Florida politicians need to drop the parent trigger. Stop talking about getting us a seat at a table that we already own lock, stock and barrel. Empowered Florida parents are doing the more important everyday real work of deciding what is right for our children from inside our public neighborhood schools

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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One Response to Parent Trigger “Uses Parents Like a Cheap Dinner Napkin”

  1. Bob– You guys need to put that million people to work –

    First ask each of them each find five friends who will actually help– that way you might have close to a million people willing to do something–

    Pick a date, and make it a workday- and schedule 2 events–

    1. Ask all participating parents to keep their kids home from school — I can assure you that 500,000 to a million kids staying home from school will get Tally’s attention ..

    2 Starting at 10:00 am, the same day get all the parents to email their Senator, and Legislator- both.. Tell people to keep the emails short, polite and to the point- and no threats of violence

    If you support Parent Trigger, Common Core, Race To The Top or any other half baked education reform scheme,, your career as a politician is over”

    It wouldn’t hurt to pick one newspaper and have everyone CC their emails to the paper- That way Tally can’t claim their servers went down and they don’t know anything about a protest.

    It took 5.5 Million emails to the US Senate to stop SOPA — One million would scare the ‘stuff’ out of Tallahassee.

    It’s pure grassroots- virtually no monetary costs involved… You’d need a website and some smart people to help organize it, Probably best if they aren’t teachers.. Bush and friends would jump on that– Educators might do a better job of educating the general public about the costs and otheer issues with the entire “reform movement’

    If you could find some recognizable TEA Partier names to organize things, Tally’s republican’s would panic before the emails started.. Democrats wouldn’t be thrilled either,-

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