School Choice & Charters

Op-Eds Debate Merits, Drawbacks to Parent Trigger Efforts

By Katie Ash — August 15, 2013 1 min read
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Guest post from Katie Ash. Posted from the Charters and Choice blog.

Inspired by the opening of the 24th Street Elementary School in Los Angeles, USA Today‘s editorial board ran a pro-parent-trigger op-ed this week, coupled with an opposing view from the president of the California Teachers Association.

USA Today‘s opinion piece, which supports the use of parent trigger efforts, says “such steps are worthy of experimentation because failing schools are notoriously immune to change, and federal and state efforts to fix them haven’t made much headway.” It recognizes that there is no guarantee that the 24th Street Elementary School will be more successful than it was before, but it predicts that California’s parent trigger law has given it a better chance.

In the opposition piece by Dean Vogel—the president of the California Teachers Association—he argues that parent trigger laws encourage parents to organize against their schools and teachers, rather than with them. It accuses Parent Revolution, a parent trigger advocacy group that has spearheaded the movement in the schools that have embraced the law, of being “a well-funded outside group with ties to big money interests.”

From my perspective, it seems a bit too early to tell whether parent trigger efforts will bring about the results that families are hoping for. It’ll be at least a year until we’re able to analyze the academic success of the school, and until the schools are up and running, it’s hard to predict if families will be better served by the new arrangements.

But Vogel argues in his op-ed that going through the parent trigger process can create a toxic environment for the school, pitting teachers and administrators against parents in their community—something we have been able to see already. While some schools, such as the Desert Trails Elementary School in Adelanto, Calif., were deeply divided by the parent trigger effort there leading to a protracted legal battle, others, like the 24th Street Elementary School, appear to have been met with less resistance (and a much quicker process).

What do you think? Are parent trigger laws rightfully empowering parents to take control over their children’s education? Or are they creating unnecessary rifts between teachers, administrators, and the rest of the community?

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A version of this news article first appeared in the K-12 Parents and the Public blog.