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Monday, February 20, 2012

Parent trigger effort divides California community, Florida will be next

From the Tampa Bay Times

by Jeff Solochek

Florida lawmakers continue to press on with a "parent empowerment" bill that would allow parents to set the academic course for their perpetually failing schools. A California law is the model.

That model isn't working out well in Adelanto, Calif., though, the LA Times reports.

"In the second effort to use the "parent trigger," a landmark state law giving parents unprecedented power to force sweeping changes at low-performing schools, proponents turned in signatures last month representing 70% of Desert Trail's 665 students to convert to a charter. Those campuses are mostly nonunion, publicly financed but independently run.

"Parent leader Doreen Diaz said at the time that the school, where two-thirds of sixth graders failed state proficiency tests last year in English and math, needed a major overhaul.

"But some parents say the Desert Trails campaign has divided the campus, destroyed friendships and given rise to charges on both sides of harassment and deceit. Some say that parent organizers, trained by the Los Angeles nonprofit Parent Revolution, confused them by presenting two petitions — one for district reforms and one for a charter — and they signed them thinking they were backing such improvements as better security."

Such a report plays into the hands of Florida parent groups who are predicting the worst if the bill passes here. We'd like to say the big question mark is whether lawmakers will listen. But is it, really? The legislation is marching ahead along (mostly) partisan lines and doesn't look likely to stall. Stay tuned.

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