Education
11:50 am
Fri April 12, 2013

Lawmaker Warns Parent Trigger Bill Confuses Empowerment With Involvement

Sen. Bill Montford wants to see more parents involved in their children's schools. He says the parent trigger bill isn't needed because they are already empowered.
Sen. Bill Montford wants to see more parents involved in their children's schools. He says the parent trigger bill isn't needed because they are already empowered.
Credit billmontford.com

Sen. Bill Montford, a Democrat from North Florida, doesn't like the Parent Empowerment in Education bill. It's much better known as the parent trigger bill.

“We know overall that the majority of students that are successful have parents that are involved,” Montford said. “It's critical to have parent support and involvement in the schools.”

Montford is CEO of the Florida Association of District School Superintendents.

“The issue with the (parent) trigger bill is it's not a question of parent involvement,” Montford told StateImpact Florida. “The trigger bill centers on parent empowerment. In other words, they will have the power -- if 50% plus 1 vote to go a certain way.”

Montford says parents already have lots of options for being involved in schools.

“I think it's somewhat disingenuous for us to assume that just because you have a trigger bill that you're going to have more involvement with parents. I don't think that will increase involvement of parents at all,” Montford said.

He thinks the focus should be on making schools more accessible and welcoming to parents.

“It's our job, I think, as educators to make sure that we do everything possible to involve our parents in our schools,” Montford said. “That to me is much more important than trying to simply say you have the power to try to institute a different form of administration for a school.”

“The concern is lack of parent involvement rather than a lack of power," Montford said. "Parents have a tremendous amount of power.”

He says one way parents use that power is by voting for school board members, superintendents, and legislators.

Under the parent trigger bill, parents would have the option of petitioning the school board for changes in a failing school.

They would choose from these federal turnaround options: replacing the principal and adding professional training; bringing in new staff and administration; converting to a charter school; or closing the school.

The parent trigger bill passed the Florida House. The bill has one more committee stop before heading to the Senate floor.

The proposal died on the last day of the session last year in a tie vote in the Senate.