Families & the Community News in Brief

Parent ‘Trigger’ Law Draws Attention, Controversy

By Ramsey Cox — January 11, 2011 2 min read
Parents in Compton, Calif., in early December prepare to file petitions seeking to have McKinley Elementary School turned into a charter school in the 2011-12 school year. Parents, from left: Marlene Romero, with son, Ivan, 8; Ismania Guzman, with daughter, Alexandra, 6; and Shamika Murphy, with daughter, Kiari, 7.
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Education advocates and organizations are closely scrutinizing the first use of California’s “parent-trigger” law, after parents in Compton, Calif., last month invoked the new statute to decide their children’s failing elementary school must become a charter by the 2011-12 school year.

Similar laws are being considered across the country even as controversy swirls in Compton, where some parents are trying to block the charter school conversion, arguing the other parents’ actions were not taken in a public enough way and were influenced by outside groups.

The California state board of education is trying to open a dialogue between both parent groups and asked the state attorney general to investigate the accusations of an underhanded process.

Still, the Dec. 7 petition by a group of parents at the low-performing McKinley Elementary School in Compton could add momentum to a push in other states for similar legislation, in the view of Robin Lake, associate director of the Center on Reinventing Public Education, at the University of Washington, in Seattle.

The California law, passed in January, allows 51 percent of parents at a school that has failed to meet “adequate yearly progress” requirements for three consecutive years to sign a petition that prompts one of four actions: converting to a charter school, replacing the principal and staff, changing the budget, or closing the school entirely.

Mississippi passed a similar law in July, and Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, and West Virginia also are considering parent-trigger laws.

Frank Wells, a spokesman for the Southern California Teachers Association, which is affiliated with the National Education Association, said he is concerned that the law does not require a review of the petition process.

“Some parents who signed the petition are now saying they weren’t educated on the issues when they signed the petition and would like their signatures removed,” he said.

On Dec. 15, the California school board asked the state attorney general to investigate complaints about the petition process.

Karen Frison, the acting superintendent of the 27,000-student Compton Unified School District, said the district would launch a parent-empowerment initiative that would allow for a conversation about the parent-trigger law, the petition process, and the four options parents have.

Parent Revolution, a pro-charter parent coalition based in Los Angeles, led the charge for the parent-trigger law and helped the Compton parents with the petition, which received the signatures of 62 percent of those with children at McKinley.

A version of this article appeared in the January 12, 2011 edition of Education Week as ‘Parent Trigger’ Law’s Use in California Draws Controversy, National Attention


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Classroom Technology Webinar
How to Leverage Virtual Learning: Preparing Students for the Future
Hear from an expert panel how best to leverage virtual learning in your district to achieve your goals.
Content provided by Class
English-Language Learners Webinar AI and English Learners: What Teachers Need to Know
Explore the role of AI in multilingual education and its potential limitations.
Education Webinar The K-12 Leader: Data and Insights Every Marketer Needs to Know
Which topics are capturing the attention of district and school leaders? Discover how to align your content with the topics your target audience cares about most. 

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Families & the Community Letter to the Editor Do Not Platform Extremists
Moms for Liberty's words have no place in this periodical, writes a principal in this letter to the editor.
1 min read
Education Week opinion letters submissions
Gwen Keraval for Education Week
Families & the Community Reported Essay Parents’ Rights Groups Have Mobilized. What Does It Mean for Students?
Parents' rights groups have led the charge to limit teaching about race, sexuality, and gender. What will happen to students who miss out?
12 min read
Education Week Big Idea Protest 082023
Traci Daberko for Education Week
Families & the Community Opinion How to Reengage Parents in Their Children's Schooling
A healthy partnership between families and schools involves both educators and parents helping each other do better.
3 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Families & the Community Opinion We Need to Recalibrate the Parent-Teacher Relationship
As students continue to grapple with learning loss, emotional trauma, and social isolation, both parents and educators need to help.
2 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty