Senator Sachs, member of the Education Policy and Education Appropriation Committees, met with teachers Jeff Levinson and Donald Persson.  Mr. Levinson and Mr. Persson are from Palm Beach County and are members of the Classroom Teachers Association (CTA); they came to Tallahassee to discuss their opposition to the Parent Trigger Bill.

 

Classroom Teachers Association

Classroom Teachers Association

What is the Parent Trigger Bill?

SB 862, commonly referred to as the “Parent Trigger Bill”, is a process for parents of failing schools to take over the school and select a turnaround option. This “trigger” is available when a school receives an  “F” grade in two consecutive years.  Under this proposal, the school property can be turned over to a for-profit company.  The turnaround option that is selected is final.  Parents do not have the ability to change their mind or take the school back.

 

Senator Sachs’ Position

Senator Sachs wholeheartedly believes that parent involvement is crucial to the education of every child.  However, she does not believe the Parent Trigger bill is the solution to the problems of Florida’s “F” public schools, state figures indicate there are 25 traditional schools that received “F” grades in 2012.

Sen. Sachs visits a school

Sen. Sachs visits a school

 

Florida is not the first state to consider Parent Trigger legislation.  California was the first state to pass such legislation in 2010.  In the three years since the law took effect, only three schools have used the law to chose a turnaround option.  It has been estimated that about 1,300 schools are eligible for turnaround under the California law.

In California’s first two parent trigger attempts the efforts driven by parent unions proved divisive and hostile. Parents called the police on one another, students of feuding parents lost friends, school meetings turned into shouting matches, and teachers from the surrounding areas participated in counter-campaigns to get parents to retract their signatures from the petitions.  One of the attempts caused a drawn-out two year legal battle in court.

Supporters of the Parent Trigger bill have argued it gives parents a say in the fate of a failing school.  However, even if parents exercise their right to petition the school under this bill, the district school board still has the ultimate decision as to which turnaround option should be implemented. The members of the district school board are elected by popular vote of constituents in the district.  In reality, the bill just creates a mechanism for turning public schools over to private, for-profit management companies.

Senator Sachs feels strongly about public education in the Florida.  She has made her opinion clear, “I am not so naive to think that Florida public schools don’t need to improve their quality of education, but this legislation is a step in the wrong direction.  Similar legislation in other states has shown only to trigger controversy, not improvement in schools.  I prefer to use the state’s resources to provide a better education to our children by attracting better teachers, not putting money in the hands of for-profit charter schools.”  Senator Sachs voted against the bill in both the Education Committee and the Education Appropriations Subcommittee.
Senator Sachs would like to hear your opinion on the “Parent Trigger bill.”  Please email or call the office to express your opinion.