School Choice & Charters

Paper Sketches Parent Trigger History, Offers Critique

By Katie Ash — December 27, 2012 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

A recently released paper by the Annenberg Institute for School Reform’s Center for Education Organizing critiques parent trigger laws and argues that policymakers can address the shortcomings of academically low-performing schools in more productive ways.

The brief, titled “Parent Trigger: No Silver Bullet,” outlines the history of parent-trigger legislation, starting with the law passed in California in 2010, the first of its kind in the country. The law allows parents whose children attend low-performing schools in that state to circulate a petition among other parents at the school to request one of four interventions: convert the school to a charter, remove and replace at least half of the staff at the school, remove the principal and implement other reforms, or close the school. If 51 percent of parents at the school sign a valid petition, the policy will move forward.

The Providence, R.I.-based Center for Education Organizing provides policy analysis and research around education strategies and works to facilitate alliances between teachers unions, civil rights and advocacy organizations, education researchers, and academics, according to its website.

To date, parent trigger policies have not been used to bring about transformations of schools—though a possible exception is playing out at Desert Trails Elementary School, in Adelanto, Calif., where a parent-led effort to convert the school to a charter school appears to have gained momentum. An earlier effort to use California’s law, at McKinley Elementary School in Compton, fell apart amid legal and political obstacles. The National Council of State Legislatures lists seven states with parent trigger laws on the books.

The Center for Education Organizing is funded in part by the American Federation of Teachers, the Ford Foundation, and the Hazen Foundation, according to the center’s website. Local chapters of the AFT have come out against parent-trigger laws, with the Connecticut chapter getting into hot water in 2011 after a presentation at an AFT professional-development conference that pinpointed how the local chapter worked to weaken such laws in that state. The AFT then distanced itself from the presentation, which referenced attempts to defeat the bill, saying that it did not represent the AFT’s position

Part of the problem, the policy brief asserts, is that parent trigger laws rely on parents to “trigger” the change, but leave them out of the process after that. “Parent Trigger legislation gives parents the ‘power’ to force the intervention but is silent on a continuing role for parents,” it says. “Furthermore, there is no evidence that chartering or closing a school, or replacing a school’s entire staff ... create academic improvement in and of themselves.” The brief argues that three alternative strategies could help bring lasting transformations to low-performing schools:

1. Collaboration and partnership between parents, students, teachers, and community members. Those teams of stakeholders should help design and implement a reform plan specific to that school after a thorough assessment of the challenges and strengths of the school.

2. Drawing attention to instructional practices and supports for teachers, putting in place a rigorous curriculum that is relevant to students, and creating a safe school environment.

3. A variety of wrap-around services for students and families, including access to mentors, college and career counselors, and tutors, and a potentially longer school day and/or year.

Of course, many parent-trigger law advocates would argue that these steps won’t do nearly enough to turn around academically struggling schools. Low-performing schools, they say, need to be overhauled in more fundamental ways, and parents—not district officials—should be given more say in deciding on the new direction for those schools.

Related Tags:

A version of this news article first appeared in the Charters & Choice blog.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

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.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
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.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attendance Awareness Month: The Research Behind Effective Interventions
More than a year has passed since American schools were abruptly closed to halt the spread of COVID-19. Many children have been out of regular school for most, or even all, of that time. Some
Content provided by AllHere
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.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class

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

School Choice & Charters Virtual Charters in Hot Water Again. Accusations of Fraud Prompt $150M Lawsuit
Indiana officials seek to recoup more than $150 million they say was either wrongly obtained or misspent by a consortium of virtual schools.
Arika Herron, The Indianapolis Star
2 min read
Indiana's attorney general Todd Rokita speaks at a news conference on Sept. 16, 2020, in Indianapolis. Rokita filed a lawsuit against a group of online charter schools accused of defrauding the state out of millions of dollars Thursday, July 8, 2021.
Indiana's attorney general Todd Rokita speaks at a news conference on Sept. 16, 2020, in Indianapolis.
Darron Cummings/AP
School Choice & Charters How the Pandemic Helped Fuel the Private School Choice Movement
State lawmakers got a new talking point as they pushed to create and expand programs to send students to private schools.
8 min read
Collage showing two boys in classroom during pandemic wearing masks with cropped photo of feet and arrows going in different directions.
Collage by Gina Tomko/EducationWeek (Images: Getty)
School Choice & Charters Opinion Taking Stock After 30 Years of Charter Schools
Rick Hess speaks with Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, on charter schools turning 30.
8 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
School Choice & Charters In Fight Over Millions of Dollars for Charter Schools, a Marijuana Tax May Bring Peace
The Oklahoma State Board of Education voted unanimously to rescind a polarizing lawsuit settlement, pending certain stipulations.
Nuria Martinez-Keel, The Oklahoman
3 min read
Money bills cash funds close up Getty
Getty