A bill that would allow parents to take over a failing school advanced through its first Florida House Committee. The Parent Empowerment for Education Act, or parent trigger bill, passed on an 8 to 5 party line vote. Republican Ross Spano of Riverview supported the ability of parents to make changes at their child's school.
"The persons most interested, the persons best qualified and in the best position, and probably more importantly the persons with the best and most appropriate moral ground to make decisions with their regard to their own kids are parents."
If a school fails Adequate Yearly Progress two years in a row or more, and 51 percent of parents sign a petition for change at the school, they would be able to affect one of four changes: replace the Principal, the administration, close the school, or turn it into a charter school. Groveland's Larry Metz also voted in favor. He does not believe many schools would be affected.
"It tells the school Board OK, here is another option to consider in your turnaround plan, and the School Board may select that option. It doesn't have to, so the decision making is still with the School Board."
Opponents lined up to speak against the bill in Tallahassee during the two hour committee meeting. Apryle Jackson heads the Osceola Classroom Teachers Association and tells Fox 35 this is a move by lobbyist to serve charter school clients.
"If you look at how it's written, it's not going to benefit the parents, but the charter schools, and most of the lobbyist pushing for this work for ALEC, and they're pushing for the schools to become charter schools which are for profit."
Jackson is adamant that more parental involvement is needed, just not parent takeovers.
"Very, very few parents participate, and the schools are always asking how can we get more parents involved. Please become more involved in our schools. Please chaperone. Please come to PTA meetings."
Most schools in Central Florida are "A" or "B" rated schools, but you may be surprised to learn that more than 2/3rds of our area schools are considered failing under the federal education standard called "Adequate Yearly Progress". Each individual school district posts those federal results on line for parents. 7 states have already adopted the Parent Trigger Bill.