Empowering Parents – The “Trigger” Law

When children are trapped in failing schools, parents sometimes feel as though they are powerless to improve the situation. Fortunately, education reform is gaining momentum around the country, and parents have become more educated, organized, and empowered to make the best decisions for their children’s education. One of the most dramatic examples of parent empowerment is the Parent Trigger, which allows parents to turn an existing failing school into a charter school, replace employees, or close the school entirely. For the first time, parents of students in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) have invoked the parent trigger. 

Since inception in 2010, the law has so far been successfully invoked once; at High Desert Elementary School in Adelanto, California. However, this was only after a heated eighteen-month legal battle.  The new school is now scheduled to open in the fall of 2013.

Last week, parents with students at 24th Street Elementary School presented a petition to the superintendent of LAUSD schools. Parents argued that they were doing what was best for the students, but teachers’ unions had another message. “We wish to work with you. We wish to be a team,” said Warren Fletcher, president of United Teachers Los Angeles. For parents and school choice advocates, however, that is too little too late. 

“The parents have been trying to change conditions there for at least the past four years,” said David Phelps, a spokesman for Parent Revolution, which has been working with the parents to organize the campaign. “It’s time for that to happen.” 358 parents (representing 68% of the school’s students)  agreed and signed the Parent Trigger petition, which will be reviewed over the next week or so. The petition asks that 24th Street Elementary be turned into a charter school, which would mean that all of the school’s current teachers would need to be replaced. 

When looking at education reform, we must always keep our focus on the only special interest group that matters; children. Not unions, not teachers, not bureaucrats, but children and their actual education!  If children are being poorly educated in the current system, the system must change.  Later this month, school choice will be in the spotlight nation-wide as National School Choice Week kicks off. This is a series of events to bring greater awareness to the issues of education reform and school choice. As 24th Street Elementary Parent David Emory said “This is a victory for the kids, not for us, because we’re here for the kids.”