As expected, Georgia lawmakers are pushing for a version of California’s controversial parent trigger bill to overhaul failing schools even as that state grapples with how to put its law into action.
Introduced this week in the General Assembly, Senate Bill 68 mimics the California law, which allows the majority of parents in low-performing schools to petition for major changes, including replacing staff and programs or bringing in a charter management operator.
However, the parent trigger law is running into problems in California where state education officials now say they are uncertain how to implement it and want a study group to look at the law. (The bureaucratic version of sending someone to Siberia.)
I am not sure of the wisdom of adopting a California law that hasn’t even been put into effect yet. Consider what happened yesterday.
The state Board of Education, in its first full meeting with a majority of members appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown, moved Wednesday to put the brakes on a landmark law that gives parents the right to force major reforms at low-performing schools.
The board took no action on proposed regulations to implement the law but instead will set up a working group to help determine the procedures. The panel will include those who had complained that the previous board was rushing the process without sufficiently considering their input. The board will reconsider the issue in March.
“We believe all parties involved in public schools should have a say before critical decisions are made,” said Richard Zeiger, chief deputy superintendent of public instruction.
But critics charge that the delay is politically motivated and aimed at derailing the law, known as the parent trigger, which allows the majority of parents at low-performing schools to petition for such sweeping reforms as major staffing and program changes or turning over campus management to a charter operator. Charters are independently run and publicly financed.
In what one critic called a “bombshell” statement, state education officials said Wednesday that it would be difficult to write clear regulations based on the law because it was too vague. As a result, officials said they are working on “cleanup” legislation with state Assemblywoman Julia Brownley (D-Santa Monica), who heads the Assembly Education Committee and last year voted against the bill containing the parent-trigger provisions.
It should be interesting to watch the Georgia debate on this law since the California model has not advanced enough to offer any lessons to other states.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog