Friday, January 11, 2013

Senator Introduces Parent Trigger Bill

Indiana State Senator Kruse apparently doesn't think that the state encouraging public school closings and charter openings is enough. He wants to get help in privatizing public schools from parents, teachers and school boards. State Impact (NPR) reported...
The chair of the Indiana Senate’s Education Committee calls it “the smorgasbord menu of options for school reorganization.”

As part of a bill overhauling Indiana’s current “parent trigger” law, Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, proposes giving parents, teachers or local school boards new powers to intervene in schools that have received at least three straight F’s from the state.

The legislation he filed Tuesday empowers any one of these groups to petition to either close a struggling school, transfer its students to schools with higher test scores or reorganize it as a charter school.

...Under Kruse’s proposal, a majority vote from the school board, petition signatures from 51 percent of a school’s parents or petition signatures from 75 percent of a school’s teachers would trigger one of four possible interventions:
  • Close the school and transfer students to schools with higher test scores within the district
  • Turn the public school into a charter school
  • Transfer any students who wanted to leave to another district
  • “Any combination” of the above options (although it’s not quite clear what would constitute a “combination” of those options).
...Kruse says parents or teachers filing parent trigger petitions could negotiate with school leaders to include measures short of reorganizing.

“Some of that intervention is already in place now, so if that’s not worked, then the full reorganization option needs to be available,” Kruse says.

Skeptics fear parent trigger bills could make a bad situation worse.

“It is inherently divisive: what about the 49 percent, or 30 percent, or whatever percent of parents who don’t want the changes the majority demands? They’ve got no choice but to fight it out with their neighbors,” Neil McCluskey of the Cato Institute told StateImpact Florida.

Education historian Diane Ravitch argues parent trigger laws can only benefit private management companies who would run the charter schools opened in place of a traditional public school. She writes in The New York Times:
Public schools don’t belong to the 51 percent of the parents whose children are enrolled this year. They don’t belong to the teachers or administrators. They belong to the public. They were built with public funds. The only legitimate reason to close a neighborhood public school is under-enrollment. If a school is struggling, it needs help from district leaders, not a closure notice.
Kruse seems to be working from the ALEC playbook...their "Parent Trigger" bill is a model for those who are working for the privatization of American public education.

Time to contact your state senators and let them know where you stand on SB341. Just say NO!

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