Parent Trigger Update
3:00 PM, Apr 11, 2011 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Proposals to enact so-called "parent trigger" laws, where parents can choose to convert their failing school into a charter school, are gaining traction, and the teachers' unions and some liberal groups are unsurprisingly up in arms. In Ohio for instance, Republican governor John Kasich has included a law similar to California's trigger law in his budget proposal, and the state teachers' union is not pleased:
A related bill aimed at increasing parent involvement is moving along in the Colorado legislature as well, passing the state senate there last week. Several other states, including Pennsylvania and Georgia, are also considering similar laws.
In Chicago, where mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel made a parent trigger a central part of his campaign, a group called Parents United for Responsible Education (PURE) has come out against any such measure:
PURE began in the late 1980s in Chicago in response to an effort by then-mayor Harold Washington to reform education policy with testing standards and a business model for the public school system, which PURE argues "[justifies] union busting and school privatization." Woestehoff has been lauded by the left-wing Ford Foundation for her efforts.
The fight over charter schools and laws like the parent trigger has created an interesting dynamic, in that many combatants on either side of the issue come from the left. Rahm Emanuel is, of course, the former chief of staff to President Barack Obama. The executive director of Parent Revolution, the pro-trigger non-profit group supporting McKinley Elementary's parents in Compton, is Ben Austin, a former aide to Bill Clinton. And director Davis Guggenheim of An Inconvenient Truth fame, certainly no conservative, achieved popular and critical acclaim for his pro-school choice documentary Waiting for "Superman," released last year.
On the other side are liberal allies to the teachers' unions like Woestehoff and the unions themselves. The fact that this debate is happening among Democrats could be considered a victory for conservative and pro-market school choice advocates who have seemingly moved the center on this particular education issue to the right.
Meanwhile, Kristina Rizga has a fairly reported piece about the parent trigger law in California at Mother Jones.