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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Teachers torch parent trigger



Florida's "parent trigger" bill is headed to House approval on third reading Thursday, while it has yet to complete its journey through the Senate.

In combination with the State Board of Education's new school grading rules, the measure has many organizations nervous. Add the teachers unions to the mix.

Michael Monroe of the Florida Education Association blasted the bill in its recent stop at the Senate Pre-K-12 appropriations committee. And now Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association president Jean Clements has written against the concept in the Washington Post's Answer Sheet, a go-to spot for opponents to what they sometimes call education "deform." She writes: 

"The trigger bill and the Board of Education’s grade change, when considered together, constitute the education equivalent of a land grab. The changes to the grading system would guarantee that Florida’s schools, even those heretofore very successful by the state’s own definition, would be labeled as failures. The parent trigger bill would then allow corporations to take over the newly designated 'failing schools.'

"Politicians say they are doing this 'for the children.' The real goal for some state politicians appears to be awarding favored business interests with state tax dollars while stripping a public institution of resources."

Over in California, the only state to test the waters with parent trigger, the California Teachers Association this week came out with a full frontal assault on the parent trigger organizers who are accusing the union of misdeeds in the action. From its blog post

"Parent Revolution has no experience in education reform and no track record of improving student achievement anywhere. They believe the Parent Trigger is a magic bullet and therefore it is the only bullet (other than grossly over the top and deceptive public relations campaigns) in their arsenal.

"If the parent trigger is a flawed law on paper, so far it’s been an unmitigated disaster in practice. It encourages division and pits parents against parents in what can escalate into a bitter political-style campaign instead of an informed discussion or debate about improving things for kids. It excludes up to 49% of parents from even being notified of what’s happening at their child’s school. It excludes virtually every parent who did not sign a trigger petition (either by choice or by not being asked) from participation in further crucial decisions about the school once the trigger is pulled.  And Parent Revolution’s scorched-earth, win-at-all-costs approach makes any meaningful and inclusive discussion about how to improve things for children at the school secondary to “winning” a petition victory."

Perhaps this is what the Sunshine State can look forward to if (when?) the parent trigger arrives. Some might say it's worth it. What do you say?

[Last modified: Thursday, March 1, 2012 9:10am]


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