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Parent Trigger Laws: Empowering Communities, or Dismantling Public Education?

A fascinating article at Colorlines.com shines a light on “parent trigger laws,” and the continued controversy over its merits and limitations.

A parent trigger law “allows parents at a school with consistently dismal test scores to file a petition to restructure their children’s school.”

The educational community is sharply divided over the merits of such a law. Supporters think these laws empower the surrounding community with the tools necessary to cut through bureaucracy and force change on school systems that are failing their students. Former D.C. schools chancellor Michelle Rhee is a big supporter of parent trigger laws.

Opponents say such a program is susceptible to abuse, in which concerned parents are used as pawns for a larger agenda. 

From Colorlines:

“They say it’s susceptible to abuse by corporate-backed groups that use parents as spokespeople for untested and short-sighted competition-based reforms—creating an astroturf movement for dismantling public schools.”

So far, parent trigger laws have been passed in California, Mississippi, Texas and Conneticut. And many more states are seriously considering such measures.

“Last year, 22 states introduced parent trigger legislation. This year, organizers in New York, Pennsylvania, Florida and Indiana have taken up the fight again.

The parent trigger has emerged at a time when education advocates and reformers are debating how, and toward what ends, to engage parents in school reform. Communities are no longer content to let the message be amplified by policymakers and politicians alone.”

Read the rest of this article at Colorlines.com

What do you think of parent-trigger laws?

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