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The Parent Trigger/HB 123 - Does it Make Any Sense?

An education advocate wonders about this piece of legislation.

 

Does anyone remember the constitutional amendment battle last year? The battle where our Republican leadership wanted us to pass an amendment which expanded the role of government in Georgia and removed local control by giving it to an appointed State Charter Commission? We bought that one hook, line and sinker. Republicans convinced Republicans - some, not all - to forget about the other part of the party platform that talks about limited government and local control.

The same group is back at it in the legislature trying to pass more bills which will eventually destroy our open public schools (vs. closed charter public schools – try moving here in January and getting into one).  Why? Because promoting charter schools and vouchers is also part of the Republican Party Platform. That must supersede the part that is for limited government, local control or common sense in my opinion.

Hey – I voted for Romney but that doesn’t mean I’m in favor of legislation that doesn’t make any sense.

So here’s what’s going on under the Gold Dome today. Some powerful legislators are pushing HB 123 – the Parent/Teacher Empowerment Act – commonly known as the Parent Trigger. The bill will allow a simple majority of parents and/or teachers at ANY public school to petition a local board to convert the school to a charter school.

Why? The only logical explanation is that the sponsors of the bill are convinced that charter schools are better than open public schools. Let’s convert them all as quickly as possible.  Parents and, apparently, legislators surely know how to run any school even though they have no professional qualifications to do so. Huh?

The second part of this bill allows a simple majority of parents and/or teachers to impose one of six turnaround models on a low-achieving public school. The turnaround models in the bill are taken straight out of the wildly unsuccessful No Child Left Behind federal legislation forced on the country in 2001.

Here’s a little synopsis of this failed strategy written in 2005 after it was apparent that it wasn’t working:

“Corrective action and school redesign cannot be done on the cheap. We know from first generation accountability systems that merely mandating new programs, subjecting a school to “zero-based staffing” (code for firing everyone) as in reconstitution, pairing it up with external consultants or passing it on to new management will not be sufficient for those persistently low-performing schools that have high needs and low capacity to begin with.”    UCLA, 2005 (parentheses mine)  

So why pass a bill with a turnaround model that was proven 8 years ago to NOT WORK? Oh, please – this is education reform. Reading and research doesn’t apply.

Then you may hear – “Just look at the mess in DeKalb County – we have to pass this bill even though the only result in any state that has passed this copycat legislation has been a lawsuit!” They may not actually say the second part but, again, logic is over rated when it comes to education reform.  My advice – want to fix DeKalb County schools? Move there.

Fast forward ten years – taxpayers and parents wake up and ask; “Hey, whatever happened to our open public schools?”

Our government; “We sold them.”

 

What do you think of this proposed law? Good, bad or unnecessary? Please tell us in the comments.

Liza Baril Jackson February 26, 2013 at 06:24 PM
The first being this statement: "Why? The only logical explanation is that the sponsors of the bill are convinced that charter schools are better than open public schools. Let’s convert them all as quickly as possible. Parents and, apparently, legislators surely know how to run any school even though they have no professional qualifications to do so. Huh?". Seems you forgot that an important part of this equation is the TEACHERS who are IN the classroom everyday, know what the issues are first hand, and know what the children need. Yet as it is now they have absolutely no voice because they know their job is on the line if the speak against the local school board. At first glance, at least this would give THEM a voice.
Liza Baril Jackson February 26, 2013 at 06:24 PM
The second is this statement: "That must supersede the part that is for limited government, local control or common sense in my opinion.". Please tell me why the people who yell for LOCAL control the loudest seem to have absolutely no problem with putting the IB program in our public schools? This program gives complete control over many aspects of our curriculum design, which our amazing CCSD teachers are already perfectly capable of doing, to a FOREIGN government. If we can't trust our own government to make decisions about our children's education, why in the world can we trust a foreign one...doesn't get any less local than that. does it? This curriculum is password protected on their website and we as parents have absolutely NO access to it or it's ideologies and any dispute over curriculum is under the SOLE discretion of Swiss law. We can spend in the hundreds of thousands of dollars to another country while we are furloughing teachers, cutting parapros, cutting elective teachers, and underfunding our athletic and drama programs? Is that common sense?
Elizabeth Hooper February 26, 2013 at 08:26 PM
Liza, There are many other issues with HB 123 but I ran out of room. Teachers and parents already have the means to convert an existing public school into a conversion charter school. Much like the constitutional amendment, which duplicates what already existed in the law, HB 123 duplicates what already exists. How many ways do you think are necessary to turn open public schools into charter schools? I have read nothing by anyone worth their salt in education that supports this divisive method for "transforming" public schools. In addition, are you aware that the law as currently written allows a simple majority of parents or teachers to trigger a charter petition at a meeting called with two weeks notice? Does that sound remotely fair? With regard to curriculum, my local school board didn't pick the Common Core Standards. It was opted into for them by Gov Perdue and the DOE. We are spending millions to train teachers to teach to these standards and will be spending millions more to "assess" student performance and teacher effectiveness next year. The program has nothing to do with local control.
School Choice Mom March 03, 2013 at 02:42 AM
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE... Read the entire Charter School FAQ’s on the GADOE’s own website and EDUCATE yourself before spreading anymore LIES about charter schools! If you don’t know the BASICS your opinion means nothing! Below are some “highlights”: Are charter schools public schools? Yes. Charter schools are public schools. As such they receive public funding, cannot charge tuition, must have fair and open enrollment, must be secular, and are required to serve all student populations, including students with disabilities and English language learners. Can charter schools select their students? Charter schools, as public schools, must adhere to the same open admission and enrollment standards as traditional public schools. With the exception of certain allowable admissions preferences [siblings, children of the governing board/teachers/staff, or students matriculating from another designated local public school], charter schools may not select their students, nor deny admission to any applicant provided that there is space for that student within the school’s capacity. And how nice for you that you can afford to live in North Fulton where your “children have benefited from excellent North Fulton public schools” What about the children in South Fulton (or anywhere else for that matter) whose parents cannot afford to move to North Fulton? Are they less deserving of a high quality education?
School Choice Mom March 03, 2013 at 02:44 AM
And until you have walked in the shoes of a parent that is forced to send their child to a failing school with a school administration that won’t listen to your concerns that your 5th grader can’t read... because they have no other “choice”... then you should remain in North Fulton and be HAPPY and stop getting in the way of parents that want a better future for their child. And when ALL of GA’s schools are performing and graduating in the top 80-90% then parents, and yes republicans, will continue to fight for ALL GA’s children. Until then, there is work to be done!

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