Parent Trigger

A bill giving parents more of a say in the fate of failing public schools has failed in the Senate on a dramatic, tied vote. It’s the second year in a row the Senate has killed the bill.

An amendment by Republican Senator David Simmons stayed intact, giving local school boards, not the state board of education, the final say on the fate of failing public schools. It was meant to ease concerns over a potential loss of local authority. But that wasn’t enough to sway bill opponents to vote for the bill.

The controversial “parent trigger” or "parent empowerment" bill, has cleared its final committee stop in the Senate with a major change. Opponents say an amendment tacked onto the bill Thursday makes the proposal much better, and  it also may have watered down the bill.

The Florida House has signed off on proposals giving kids more access to online courses and charter schools, while cracking down on charter abuses and paving the way for parents to have a greater say in the fate of failing public schools.

A bill giving parents a greater say in the fate of failing public schools is now moving though the Senate, having cleared a key education committee vote.

The proposal, sponsored by  Senator Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland) is also known as the parent empowerment bill to its supporters. But opponents say the problem with failing schools is deeper than just giving parents yet another option:

The state's largest teacher's union does not like what it's seeing.

 “Why are we flying in an executive director of Parent Revolution from California to talk about Florida schools and parents in Florida and what they need?" said the Florida Education Association's Jeff Wright. "How in the hell does he know what parents in this state need?”

A House education committee has moved controversial bills like one that would give parents a say in the fate of failing public schools. Another would let charter schools move into unused public school buildings. Both proposals are now heading to the chamber floor but could conflict with Senate ideas.

Also up in the air is the fate of Florida’s newest university.

Capital Report: 03-07-2013

Mar 7, 2013

More than a hundred protesters descended on the seat of state government.  Some of them dressed as characters from the original Wizard of Oz movie to demand the expansion of Medicaid.  Steven Rodriguez reports the group visited legislative leaders’ offices to press their case.

The so called “Parent Trigger” bill that riled Democrats, teacher’s union and parent groups last year—is back. The bill would give parents in failing public schools a say in the fate of that school. Those opposed to the bill have pretty much conceded it will pass the legislature this year—but they’re not willing to go down without a fight.

Florida Senate

Update 5:18 pm:   The so-called parent trigger bill is back again after a narrow defeat in the Florida Senate last year, when several Republicans joined with Democrats to vote against the measure, resulting in a tie.

Unlike past years the education agenda took a backseat to more pressing issues—mainly the once-a-decade redistricting process. But at times, the annual fight over funding, vouchers, prayers and charter schools rose to the forefront. Lynn Hatter takes a look at what passed, what didn’t and what’s sure to come again next year.

The Florida Senate has rejected a proposal that would have given parents a greater say in the fate of failing public schools. The bill had been stalled all week as opponents worked to gather enough votes to kill it and as Lynn Hatter reports, after more than an hour and a half of questions and debate, the Senate made its decision.

After passing on a party-line vote in the House last week, a bi-partisan coalition of Senators found the 20 votes necessary to kill the so-called parent-trigger bill:

Capital Report: 03-09-2012

Mar 9, 2012

It’s the final day of the 2012 Florida Legislative session and lawmakers are expecting to work late into the night.  James Call reports lobbyists; reporters and lawmakers themselves are on guard for last-minute amendments that make significant changes to state policy. 

A plan to let parents have a say in the fate of failing schools has stalled yet again in the Florida Senate. The measure has been met with opposition from a bi-partisan coalition of Senators who say it goes too far. Lynn Hatter reports the delay now pushes a vote on the bill to Friday—the last day of the 2012 regular session.

Senate Bill 1718 has 23 amendments pending on it. Most of them were added between Wednesday night and Thursday morning. That’s only one sign of the negotiating going on behind the scenes.

Capital Report: 03-08-2012

Mar 8, 2012

The budget is complete. But in a frantic race to finish Friday, the legislature is debating policy reforms to health care, auto insurance and failing public schools. James Call reports an ever-changing bi-partisan coalition is putting up obstacles for all three issues to clear by tomorrow/tonight’s scheduled adjournment.

Florida Democrats have sharp words for the Republican Party’s education policy initiatives this year. That includes tuition hikes and university budget cuts, along with the creation of a 12th state university and what they see as not enough money for traditional public schools. But Lynn Hatter reports their outcry may be a little too late.

It’s About Florida: Parent Trigger

Mar 6, 2012

School Choice Advocates are pushing for a Florida version of California’s Controversial “Parent Trigger” Law – It would give a majority of parents a chance to “trigger” a plan to turn around a failing school by either getting rid of bad teachers, changing principals or turn it over to a private management company.


Shirley Ford and Linda Serrato with Parent Revolution

Mark Pudlow with the Florida Education Association


Senate Democrats are looking to get a few more votes to defeat a controversial education bill. The proposal gives parents with children in failing public schools the option of converting that school into a charter. Lynn Hatter reports the measure has already cleared the House, but the Senate vote is a toss-up.

The fight over the proposed “parent trigger” bill started last week, when a bi-partisan coalition of Senators headed by Republican Jack Latvala, blocked an attempt to fast-track the bill by pulling it out of its last committee hearing:

Capital Report: 03-05-2012

Mar 5, 2012

The Florida Legislature has a full agenda for the final week of its 2012 regular session.  James Call reports, leaders of the House and Senate have reached an agreement on a budget, allowing for an on-time finish to the session…. 

As the final scheduled week of the 2012 Florida Legislative Session got underway, the state senate was working through a long list of bills.  Tom Flanigan reports the issue of allowing unregulated out-of-state insurers to take over Citizens Insurance customers sparked spirited debate…. 

The Florida House has signed off on a tuition increase at two of Florida’s public universities. A plan to allow charter schools to get a slice of tax-funded public school construction money faces an uncertain future. A procedural move in the Senate has put the safety back on a parent-trigger plan, and as Lynn Hatter reports, the state’s newly approved school grading system could be delayed.

The Florida house has tackled a wide array of education bills—from inspirational messages in public schools, to designating September as American Founder’s month. Lynn Hatter reports some bills are now heading to the governor while others await senate approval.

Republican Representative Mike Bileca said he thought his proposal to designate September as American Founders day, was pretty straightforward.

A measure aimed at giving parents a greater say in what happens to a failing school is now heading to the House floor. Lynn Hatter reports the proposal is one that divides parent groups, and has opponents calling it a power grab.

Right now, Florida public schools labeled as “chronically failing” face a few different choices. Districts can replace principals and switch staff, increase funding, hand the school over to a private company or, convert it into a charter school. 

A proposal to give parents a say in what to do with chronically failing schools has cleared its first stops in the House and Senate Tuesday. The bills are part of a nationwide movement to get parents more involved in public school systems. But as Lynn Hatter reports, the measures are being met with both support and opposition from the same parent groups they are trying to bring together.