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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Jeb Bush's education foundation 'debunks myths' about contentious parent-trigger proposal



Patricia Levesque, the executive director of former Gov. Jeb Bush's Foundation for Florida's Future, held a press conference Tuesday morning to rally support for the controversial parent-trigger proposal.

Levesque was accompanied by Pat DeTemple, a senior strategist for Parent Revolution, the group that helped create the law in California. Nikki Lowery, of former D.C. schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee's organization, StudentsFirst, joined via telephone.

The so-called parent-trigger bill (SB 862, HB 867) would allow parents to demand sweeping changes at failing public schools, including having the school converted into a charter school. It would also prevent children in struggling schools from having a teacher deemed "ineffective" for two consecutive years.

The bill has met resistance from the state Parent Teacher Association, grassroots parent groups, school districts and the teachers' union, who say it would enable for-profit charter-school management companies to take over traditional public schools. Democrats have voted against it at nearly every committee stop.

At the press conference, DeTemple rejected claims that the bill is part of "a vast conspiracy to privitize education in America."

"The noting that there is an army of charter-school operators out there ready to take advantage of this law flies in the face of facts," he said.

Levesque noted that under current law, parents can already petition for change. "The difference is, they would now have a legal seat at the table," she said.

After the press conference, the Florida Education Association's Jeff Wright questioned the Foundation's movites.

"Why are not parents from this state participating in this conversation?" Wright said. "We have parents in Florida... We don't need California or the Foundation's help."

Will the trigger bill become law this year?

The proposal has already won the support of three committees in the House, and will likely be heard on the floor next week. But it hasn't started moving in the Senate.

The proposal is a top priority for Bush, who came to Tallahassee earlier this year to discuss it with lawmakers.

[Last modified: Tuesday, March 26, 2013 12:47pm]


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