No Magic Bullet for Schools

Monday, April 9, 2012

More than two years after California's "parent trigger" law was enacted, things haven't worked out the way school reformers had planned or opponents had feared.

In those heady days, it was expected that parents would race to sign petitions to transform their low-performing schools. More than 20 states considered passing similar measures.

The California law allows parents to compel one of four major reforms at their children's schools if half or more sign a petition. Right now it's limited to 75 schools statewide, as a sort of pilot program.

But only three other states have passed parent trigger laws — Connecticut, Mississippi and Texas — and it's a stretch to put Connecticut's law in the same category, because parents there were given merely an advisory role with no authority. Last month, Florida's legislature rejected a trigger bill, and many of the fiercest opponents were parents. Nine other states are considering such legislation, but even the Education Trust, a strongly reform-oriented nonprofit group, has expressed concerns about the trigger as it is currently constructed.

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