To the Editor:
Regarding Diane Ravitch’s blog post “The Lesson of Florida” (March 20, 2012), the goal of every educator and advocate of education should be to ensure that all children receive a high-quality education.
It is unfortunate that an achievement gap still exists; however, this gap was much wider before such leaders as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush started taking meaningful actions in education reform.
Contrary to critics’ claims, reforms like “parent trigger” bills are not rooted in advancing the interests of charter schools and for-profit entrepreneurs. No, they are focused on providing every child an opportunity to attend a school that will properly prepare him or her for success in college and a career.
If a school can accomplish this lofty, yet essential, goal and at the same time directly contribute to rebuilding America’s tattered economy, then kudos to it.
However, operating in the black is not the prerequisite for educating the future of our nation. Achieving significant gains is. And what our children desperately need is the opportunity to attend schools that foster significant gains—regardless of whether they’re for-profit or not-for-profit schools—if the schools that students’ ZIP codes assign them to are not getting the job done.
Ms. Ravitch is right about one thing: Democracy did live in Florida this year. Our Founding Fathers would have been proud at the opportunities for discourse and debate from proponents and critics and, ultimately, when a simple majority was not reached on the state Senate floor, the bill died—or at least went into hibernation.
But this begs one question: If democracy lives in state politics, why then can it not find a home in state education? If a simple majority is good enough for politicians to have their voices heard and their presence felt, why is it not good enough for parents at failing schools to have their voices heard and their presence felt?
A version of this article appeared in the April 25, 2012 edition of Education Week as ‘Parent Trigger’ Measures Are About Opportunity