EdNext Reader Poll: Parent Trigger

By 06/22/2012

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In some parts of the country, a majority of parents whose children attend a low-performing traditional public school can sign a petition requiring the district to convert the school into a charter.


(You may return to the poll at any time and check on the results by clicking “View Results” at the bottom of the poll. However, once you have submitted your choice, any additional votes you enter later will not be counted.)

Comment on this article
  • David Cox says:

    What would be a better right to fight for, is the right for a community (big cities are more than one community) to create their OWN school district instead of being in some huge regional district with many different communities combined.

    A school district of about one high school and its feeder schools would be the right balance. A charter school is a one-school school district and is prone to the problems of being too small, both economically and politically. Our big districts cannot meet different communities’ needs while being “equal.” A community district has the best of both.

    For further research and discussion on this issue see: http://www.smallerschools.org.

  • Jessica says:

    I see Parent Trigger as an amazing way for Parents to hold their schools accountable in a system that has at times been able to side step accountability. The law can be used to reform schools in many ways that are not simply limited to a charter conversion by giving parents a voice. I understand that many districts and schools are painstakingly trying to implement reforms now and over the next few years… but what about the kids in the schools now? We do not have time to wait.

  • Dr. James Norwood says:

    I am opposed to parent trigger laws not because I don’t believe that parents have the right to change their children’s schools. I am opposed on a more fundamental level – I don’t believe that charter schools work as advertised. There are so many growing examples of charter schools and their leadership run amok.

    Another reason why I oppose trigger laws is because, what if, for some reason, the charter school that replaces the public school fails to make any difference? What is the parent’s recourse then? Can they simply vote again to go back to a public school? Will they be able to change charter schools? Where will the madness end?

    Instead of attacking a public school where it is highly unlikely that every single teacher is a bad teacher parents should be taking credit or blame for their own children and doing something about it. Volunteer more in the school. Make yourself more known to your child’s teacher(s). Run for school board (or support a worthy candidate) to make changes. Don’t simply fire every single employee.

    Parent trigger laws do not make sense, at least not to me. I know I am not alone in this, either. Let’s find what is good and stop seeking out what is bad. Support the schools, don’t tear them down.

  • audhilly says:

    I oppose parent trigger laws because the single most important factor in child performance is parent involvement. In general, low performing schools have an overabundance of low performing parents. If the purpose of shifting to charters is to give choice to parents who aren’t partnering with the school system that their children are already attending, it’s just kicking the can down the road. Why waste time avoiding the real issues? Don’t empower bad parenting.

    On the other hand, if the purpose of shifting to the charter structure is an effort on the part of high performing parents to minimize the impact of low performing families upon school culture and standards, that is an entirely different conversation. That’s a euphemism for tracking and cherrypicking. No judgment: It’s not unreasonable for hard working, committed parents to want their children’s peer group and school experience to reflect their values and priorities. Charters solve problems for high performing families. It allows them to use public dollars to weed out other people’s children. It doesn’t provide any benefit to children who don’t have parents willing or able to help them. Surely there’s a better way to meet the needs of all stakeholders than to allow some parents to gut the public system in order to avoid the children of other parents.

    Finally, if the purpose of charters is to privatized public education and create new markets and power for entrepreneurs and politically motivated ed reformers, charters are even more toxic to communities. Profit motive is not inherently bad. Neither is personal ambition. But when profit motive and ambition are at odds with the public good, the public good does not often win. Who wins now when ill people need expensive operations or when industries can make more profit if they take their factories overseas or when supporting an unsound policy can make a career?

  • pearne says:

    What is better is:
    Let Teachers Teach
    Eliminate School Boards, Supers, pta’s, etc.
    Force parents to become inolved by having to find a teacher and making certain the student performs.
    Force legislatures to pay.

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