© 2023 WFSU Public Media
WFSU News · Tallahassee · Panama City · Thomasville
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Senate Education Panel Okays Parent Trigger As Compromise Fizzles Out

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:

“If you look at the success of schools that have turned around you’ve had a total commitment of parents and the community in general. And that’s what I think we need to focus on. Just simply giving another option, I’m not sure is going to make a difference," said Senator Bill Montford (D-Tallahassee).

The bill is backed by pro-school choice groups and opposed by the state's parent groups and teachers unions. It would impact about 25 schools in the state labeled as failing and would let parents petition a school board to consider one of four, federally-mandated turnaround options, such as closure, administration overhaul or conversion into a charter school.

Stargel had crafted a compromise amendment to the bill giving school boards the ability to override the parent option if it felt the choice wouldn’t improve student learning. That amendment was withdrawn.

A companion measure has already cleared the House. The parent trigger failed last year in the Senate due to infighting in the chamber.

Follow @HatterLynn

Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

Find complete bio, contact info, and more stories here.