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Battle over parent trigger bill heating up

IMG00026-20120305-0936 (1)A coalition of Democrats and Republicans is gearing up to fight the so-called parent trigger bill.

On Monday, Senate Minority Leader Nan Rich, D-Weston, spoke out against the proposal, which would allow parents at low-performing schools to demand changes of the administration, including having the school converted into a charter school. 

“The centerpiece of this legislation has nothing to do with empowering parents,” Rich said. “But it has everything to do with the hostile corporate takeover of public schools across Florida -– a direct attack on public education.”

Rich was joined by Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland.

Said Dockery: "Even if you support school choice like I do... this bill goes too far."

The parent trigger bill is expected on the Senate Floor Tuesday. It should be an interesting debate. Late last week, Sen. John Thrasher tried to put the bill on a fast track through the upper chamber. But 12 Democrats and 7 Republicans blocked the move, setting the state for a tense Floor vote.

Will there be enough votes to defeat the bill? Rich said she is "optimistic."

Florida parents have voiced fierce opposition to the bill. 

Its high-profile backers include former Gov. Jeb Bush and education reformer Michelle Rhee.

Supporters of the parent trigger bill attended Monday's press conference, but did not speak publicly. After the conference concluded, they maintained that the bill was not designed for charter-school companies, but rather as another way to help turn around persistently failing schools.

Later, backers released a statement form Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa: "The Parent Trigger movement, that started in Los Angeles and now is spreading across the nation, encourages involvement in the education process and drums up the kind of support and encouragement necessary to build the foundations for student achievement."


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Nancy Argenziano

This is a horrible giveaway of tax dollars. Being touted as a Parent involvement bill. Its BS and bad public policy to giveaway tax dollars for public schools that go private companies that get to keep what our public tax dollars paid for. What they need to do is have an equal playing field, and require these Charter schools to have the same requirements placed on all public schools.

Arthur J. Byrnes

It is sad that with all this on-line technology, that the Miami Herald did not post a portion of the bill or links to where the bill is available for browsing.

Its nice to see the reporter's slant on the issue, but we should be able to easily access the bill and make up our own minds about its impact.

Yes, there are probably political geeks who know exactly where to go to look, but there are millions of others who have not a clue.

Lets try and be more useful in the future.


The misinformation disseminated by the media about this bill is appalling!

Even Obama's own campaign guy and teacher's union organizer, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, has spoken out in favor of it:

"The Parent Trigger movement that started in Los Angeles and now is spreading across the nation encourages involvement in the education process and drums up the kind of support and encouragement necessary to build the foundations for student achievement. Parental empowerment and community intervention in education work to change our children’s lives and transform the communities surrounding them."

Unfortunately, in Florida, all we can seem to do is politicize what's best for our kids. It's shameful. If this was supported publicly by Lawton Chiles and Richard Riley, the Dems and media would all be in favor of it and the Republicans would be bashing it!

The fact is, despite their public opposition, the FEA, FL Democrat Caucus and numerous school districts all contributed to developing this bill.

51% of parents at a failing school must sign the petition to exercise their federally-required options. Most often, they opt for needed resources like computer labs, English language learning assistance and special tutoring. There has only been one instance where a failing school was converted to a charter, and that was a public, not-for-profit charter where the parents make up the board and hire the principal.

How can you want a good education for our kids and not support giving parents a strong seat at the table?

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