Tallahassee Botches ‘Parent Trigger’: GOP Revolt in Senate
A bill that would have given parents a greater say in what happens to failing public schools and open the door to turning them over to private corporations, like for-profit charter school companies, was rejected on a tie vote of 20-20 in the Florida Senate on Friday.
If the bill had been approved and signed into law, parents would have had more power to change failing schools and the ability to help dictate a “turnaround,” choosing from a menu of options, if the one the district originally prescribed didn’t work after a year.
Supporters of the bill argued that it gives parents a greater stake in the process.
Critics of the bill said the measure would further undermine public education and the teachers unions, by backers of for-profit charter school companies that have little accountability compared to traditional public schools. They also contend that the “parent trigger” law is just a way of fast-tracking charter schools into the public school system.
“The problem is you are taking a valuable asset, our school, which was bought and paid for by the taxpayers, and handing that property to a charter management company,” said Linda Kobert, co-founder of Fund Education Now, a network of Florida parent organizations which is fighting the parent trigger law.
“There is no mechanism for the public to get that asset back. There is no guarantee that the charter school is going to perform any better, and in fact research shows that charter schools are no better than traditional public schools.”
A heated debate ensued over the bill in the Senate last night.
Before the vote, even Gov. Rick Scott weighed in urging the bill’s passage, saying in an interview with WFLA in Orlando that the bill is “so logical,” newsserviceflorida.com reports.
Meanwhile, every legitimate parent group in Florida opposed the bill including, Florida PTA, Citizens for Stong Schools, Fund Education Now and Parents Across America.
In California, a similar measure was implemented two years ago, giving parents of children in failing schools a majority vote on whether to turn it into a charter. To date, the measure has turned out to be a disaster.
Eight Republicans joined twelve Democrats in opposing SB 1718 today, thus ensuring that the measure received 20 votes needed to kill the measure in a tied vote in the 40-seat chamber.