From MyEducationNext, by Rita Solonet
Watching the Florida Senate debate the so-called Parent Empowerment bill, is like watching an episode of Truth or Dare.
The bill’s sponsor, Senator Kelli Stargel (R)- Lakeland, clumsily danced around answers to pertinent questions, like, “Why is a parent trigger even needed in Florida?” or, “Who supports parent trigger in Florida.”
I’m tired of the non answers, the wrong answers, and frankly, the lies presented with gusto such as the fabricated parent group with the slick video that support this bill. The truth about SB 862, aka, the Parent Trigger bill is as follows:
1) Does the parent trigger bill offer a new option to parents?
No, it does not. Florida already has a law permitting public school conversion to charter school. That law gives the parents power to initiate a conversion of a school to charter. It was used in Key Biscayne and in Lakeland.
2) Does this bill truly empower parents as the title suggests?
No, it does not. Parents are actually less empowered when a school is converted to a charter. Charters frequently select students for admission. Oftentimes, they avoid disabled children, English Language Learners, those dubbed hard-to-teach. Further, charter schools expel children at any time they desire. Parents have no appeal process. Oftentimes charter schools don’t allow parents to attend board meetings. Charters change school attendance days (including Saturdays) and hours. Parents have no say. Many charters now demand volunteer hours from parents dictating that students will be expelled if parents don’t volunteer. This is empowerment?
3) Do parents have a voice in Florida’s public schools now?
Absolutely they do. Whether they are involved in the school or not, parents can seek out a peer parent on a School Advisory Council (SAC). SACs are mandated by law and their boards must comprise, by law, 51% or more with parents and business leaders. SACs actually write school improvement plans. Parents gather input and help to write plans to improve the school. That’s empowerment! Any parent can and should attend SAC meetings with issues or seek out parents to help with issues. I’ve been on SACs over a decade and we help every parent who comes before us.
4) Do charter schools have the same accountability?
No. Contrary to Senator Stargell’s remarks, charters do not close after two years of F-ratings. First, by law, they are not graded until after the second year. Then, if they receive F-ratings, and a district wants to close them, charters turn to the State Board of Ed to appeal the closure. At best, you cannot close a failing charter for three years. Just look at all the failing charters that still exist!
5) Florida needs to offer parents more Choice
Florida has more choice than any other state in the nation. Florida offers: McKay Scholarships; Vouchers; Florida Virtual; 600+ charter schools; Magnet schools; Homeschooling; Cyber Charters and 100% Virtual schools for parents; along with an existing conversion clause to charter.
6) Does FL need more avenues to open more charters such as the parent trigger?
Florida has 600 charter schools in operation today. When you consider Florida has more charters than Texas, you need to consider that Texas has 4.8M students to educate vs. Florida’s 2.4M. Perhaps it’s time to slam on the brakes and fix the charters in existence vs. opening the floodgates for more that are not needed.
7) Who opposes parent trigger in Florida?
Senator Stargel shamefully misled the Senate with her answer today. Over 1M citizens oppose parent trigger. Groups such as:
LEAGUE OF UNITED LATIN AMERICAN CITIZENS
PARENTS ACROSS AMERICA
WOMEN’S POLITICAL CAUCUS
NATIONAL COUNCIL OF JEWISH WOMEN
LEAGUE OF WOMEN’S VOTERS
FUND EDUCATION FLORIDA
TESTING IS NOT TEACHING
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF FEMALE EXECUTIVES
and many more…
FACT: There is no entity – no grassroots parents group that has chosen to form support for the concept of parent trigger of their own volition whatsoever. That lie was exposed in Kathleen McGrory’s Miami Herald article on April 26.
8) Why do parents oppose parent trigger?
Simply – we oppose the conflict it inflicts upon communities pitting parents against principals, teachers against parents, parents against parents and students against students. You only have to look to California for proof that this law divided communities such that families moved away. NO AMENDMENT will resolve this conflict you are willfully inflicting upon Florida’s citizens.
PLEASE LISTEN TO CONSTITUENTS AND VOTE NO ON PARENT TRIGGER!I am not a teacher – not a union member – and I haven’t got a clue what the so-called union talking points are. I’m a parent, a business woman who spent her own savings to beg you to say no to a very destructive bill.