California’s infamous Parent Trigger law, which allows a majority of parents to petition to have their low-performing school converted to a private charter school, has been given the green light to move ahead by State Board of Education President Michael Kirst. The law’s first test came last year, when parents at Compton’s McKinley Elementary, led by the Green Dot front group Parent Revolution, used strong arm techniques to bully parents into signing the petition. Some parents complained that they were threatened with deportation if they didn’t sign. As a result, Compton exploited irregularities in the petition to invalidate it, while community groups and anti-charter advocates called for a revamping of the law. Instead, under Kirst’s leadership, the State Board extended emergency rules for the law and expedited the timetable for coming up with new rules to clarify disputed issues.
Kirst and the School Board diverted the issue to a committee assembled by new State Schools Superintendent Tom Torlakson that includes representatives from Parent Revolution, as well as the California Teachers Association. This committee is to make recommendations by next month on permanent regulations on the Parent Trigger law. Meanwhile, the existing emergency regulations will hold, with a vote of 9-1 by the State Board, with only the former CTA lobbyist Patricia Rucker voting against it.
Some Issues That Still Need Resolution
- How signatures will be verified
- How to ensure that parents receive accurate information
- How to ensure that petitions are handled fairly
- Who decides which charter operator will take over
- What will be the appeals process
- How to prevent bullying and intimidation of parents