By Victor Skinner
BATON ROUGE – Louisiana parents with children in failing public schools will soon be able to force significant changes in those schools through a “parent trigger” petition process approved by the state school board this week.
The “parent trigger” process, which is modeled after a similar California law, allows a majority of parents in a failing public school to petition the state to take over and run the school directly or convert it to a charter school. The change is part of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s student-focused education reforms, according to theadvocate.com.
“Under the plan, the (state Department of Education) will be required to post information on its website about parent petitions, including sample petitions, what schools can be targeted, how many signatures would be required and procedures and deadlines for completing the process,” the news site reports.
The most important part: any public school graded D or F by the state for three consecutive years would be eligible, which means parents could potentially force changes in nearly one out of five of Louisiana’s public schools.
We believe that parent trigger laws have great potential to engage parents in their child’s school by empowering them with the tools to make a significant difference.
We’ve met countless parents with children in dysfunctional, failing public schools who feel disenfranchised because their voices are often drowned out by self-interested bureaucrats and money-eyed union bosses. Parent trigger laws help to return the focus of public education to the students.
Another important element of Louisiana’s parent trigger program is built-in protections for signature gatherers.
“The rules prohibit parents and others circulating the petition from being harassed, which has been alleged in California, where the first such law was enacted in 2010,” theadvocate.com reports. “That includes intimidation, threats or efforts to hinder the name-gathering process. Violators would face criminal prosecution.”
Louisiana’s parent trigger also prohibits school and district employees from using public resources to support or oppose a petition, the news site reports.
Those protections are important considering the documented opposition of teachers unions to state takeover efforts, and their penchant for using public resources for their own agenda.