Parent and Educator Empowerment Act moves from House to Senate. Teacher empowerment erodes along the way.

downeyart0726 (Medium)A Senate subcommittee takes up the parent trigger bill this morning at 8.

As the Parent and Educator Empowerment bill moved from the House to the Senate, one piece apparently was lost in the journey: Teacher power.

According to the legislative update posted by the Professional Association of Georgia Educators:

The official name of HB 123, formerly called the “Parent and Educator Empowerment Act” has been changed in a Senate substitute version to the “Parent Empowerment Act.”

HB 123 allows parents to vote to convert their school to charter status. An important portion of the bill which allows teachers to petition their school board to adopt a school turnaround model has been amended in the new substitute version to exclude teachers.

Since the bill has yet to be heard in subcommittee, the reasoning behind the changes is unclear. PAGE has deep concerns about the alterations. Our longstanding position regarding school turnaround and charter schools is that parents, students, and educators must work together to move the needle on student achievement, and buy in from educators is critical. Excluding educators from turnaround and charter decisions is a step in the wrong direction.

The substitute version of HB 123 is scheduled to be heard in subcommittee early Wednesday morning. PAGE will express opposition to the changes.

I am also puzzled why the change has been made in light of the emphasis on teachers by the bill’s sponsor.

While pushing his bill through the House, state Rep. Edward Lindsey, R-Atlanta, cited the importance of giving teachers a greater voice in their school management.

This is what Lindsey told House members before they voted 97 to 74 in favor of the bill:

“If parents want to petition their local school boards to convert their traditional school into a conversion charter school, which is still a public school, the parents can sign a petition, and, if a majority of them wish to do so, that petition is then taken to the local school board and the local school board has to act on that local petition. The bill also says to teachers, ‘If you are working in a low-performing school and you believe the problem is with the management of that school, you can, by secret ballot or petition,  petition your local school board to change the operation of that school.’

“In other words, it gives the teachers an opportunity to go to local school board and demand changes in a school that is low performing. Parents will also have a similar right to do that.”

House Education Committee Chair Brooks Coleman, R-Duluth, also stressed the role of teachers in the bill. He told the House:

“It is empowering teachers by allowing them to get involved in the operation of their schools. Teachers are afraid. They are not empowered today. House Bill 123 provides another tool in the tool box for  parents and teachers to use in the management and operations of their schools.”

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

30 comments Add your comment

bootney farnsworth

March 20th, 2013
12:21 am

I’m genuinely curious how this will give us more input into school management. is this kinda like Obama taxing us to prosperity?

Truth in Moderation

March 20th, 2013
12:40 am

“They’re drinking our blood”
Cyprus resists Vampire Banksters!
ht tp://

Next victim: public school “privatization.”


March 20th, 2013
1:20 am

The message to the Georgia Teacher – Shut up your PIE HOLE, Get to work, keep your opinions to yourself, No one wants to know or hear anything you may have to say, You are an employee and if you want your JOB you will do, when and as you are TOLD!

We know Better than YOU and we know what we are doing. Period!

If you cannot abide by this, We suggest you find another career for employment.

We are going to proceed with our Long held plans of changing Georgia Public Schools as we all know it. A School Voucher Payment system will be its future. More technology so that we can cut the
The State’s Education Budget in half within the next (4) four years.

Cheerfuly Yours,

Republican State Legislators of Georgia

Private Citizen

March 20th, 2013
3:07 am

An important portion of the bill which allows teachers to petition their school board to adopt a school turnaround model has been amended in the new substitute version to exclude teachers.

I’d rather get away from a school board than petition one. I’d petition a dairy in a field and ask them to read Chaucer to me before I would petition a school board. An elected Georgia school board is nothing but a low IQ incompetent sadistic contraption. Any educator who gets near one is going to get burned.

Private Citizen

March 20th, 2013
3:08 am

correction: I’d petition a dairy cow in a field and ask them to read Chaucer to me before I would petition a school board.

Cindy Lutenbacher

March 20th, 2013
5:50 am

Bernie, I think you’ve got it.
And you’ve proved again that satire hasn’t got a chance in our world today–not when the reality is so horrible.

Jack ®

March 20th, 2013
5:56 am

One of my former high school part-timers will graduate Emory this year and plans to teach world history and coach a softball team. But not in Georgia and certainly not in DeKalb.

South Georgia Retiree

March 20th, 2013
6:54 am

Same old Republican song and dance. It’s so obvious—by taking educators out of the language, this is another attempt to privatize public schools and call it democracy. If this passes, it’s another nail in the coffin of public schools.

bootney farnsworth

March 20th, 2013
7:00 am

this reminds me way too much of the stupid stuff GPC was doing the last 7 or so years. inmates running the day to day affairs of the asylum while the upper manage reaps any rewards

bootney farnsworth

March 20th, 2013
7:02 am

here’s what I really don’t understand:

if the legislature wants out of the education business so badly, why don’t they just start the mechanism to do so? this is like letting a person on life support starve to death.

Attentive Parent/Invisible Serfs Collar

March 20th, 2013
7:31 am

Because the teachers are in a position to recognize the shift away from the transmission of knowledge model to the sociocultural human development model that is part of those Effective Teacher evals. And the real purpose of the Community of Learners hype.

So instead of both serving as the teacher and student coercion into desired behaviors purposes they were created to do, teachers could have petitioned for a charter to get around all this. And unlike the parents who, based on the lack of an uproar of the language of Fulton’s conversion charter, simply assume charters are a good idea and ignore the actual language of the agreement, teachers would make sure the charter did not simply enshrine what they objected to in the first place.

Charters can be a wonderful freeing mechanism but they can also have unappreciated language that binds teachers and students far more completely than anything the law or regulation has come up with. An NEPC report released October 1, 2012 that I have written about “Democratic School Turnarounds: Pursuing Equity and Learning from Evidence” says the goal of these triggers is not to raise student achievement in the sense of reading writing, math and knowledge generally. No, the “goal is to provide all students with equitable opportunities to learn, participate in society, and further social change.”

That;s community organizing. So the charter becomes a basis for politicizing the entire community for social change without parents understanding the whole problem was the sociocultural model in the first place. It was and is rampant in both APS and Dekalb and it is the reason Avossa has come to Fulton. Parents are not in a position to understand all this.

Nor are Republican legislators apparently. Too many staff members with political science or public policy degrees from Ga State I suppose.

But teachers are and do. And they would be in such a better position to carve out language in a charter that actually results in schools working like they are supposed to.

Dewey Cheatham & Howe

March 20th, 2013
8:06 am

There will be some pain, but this has to be done. The status quo is unacceptable. When what you’re doing doesn’t work, do something else.I know that this will get in your good life if you’re just warming a chair, but the kids in the classroom are much more important than your politics or pension. Here’s a phrase we learned in the Marines: Improvise, Overcome, Adapt.

The schools have had many years to clean up their act and change their product. Now they will change anyway-under less pleasant circumstances.


March 20th, 2013
8:11 am

People on this blog keep blaming the Republicans for the charter school movement and school vouchers, and maybe that is correct, but I want to know who it is that let state and federal legislators, many of whom are totally out of touch with reality, determine what teachers teach. We are being forced to perpetuate an underclass that is growing – an underclass that is filled with voters who will vote for members of the Democratic party more often than not – by presenting material that is beyond their intellectual capacity instead of teaching them what they need to know to be productive members of society. It is immoral. I know more teachers who are leaving the profession, especially in Georgia, because of this moral issue than for any other reason.


March 20th, 2013
8:11 am

Seems to me that the root of the issue here isn’t teacher input into the process. Rather it’s the type of input. “…The bill also says to teachers, ‘If you are working in a low-performing school and you believe the problem is with the management of that school, you can, by secret ballot or petition, petition your local school board to change the operation of that school.’” In other words, a demanding principal that doesn’t say “yes” to every whim of a teacher who, if you believe what we always hear is the heart of the school in the first place (and maybe also the problem of low performing) than simply manufacture a secret petition and get a new “yes” principal in his or her place. Somehow this just doesn’t work for me.


March 20th, 2013
8:13 am

“Simple minded” politics, nothing else…These legislators have no idea concerning the amount of expertise, dedication to the process, and collaboration among parents,educators and community are necessary for a charter to be approved. Just because parents, or any other constituent group,”pulls the trigger” does not create a charter.

Mikey D.

March 20th, 2013
8:24 am


Who was responsible for changing the language of the proposed legislation?

Google "NEA" and "donations"

March 20th, 2013
8:30 am

So it seems all the money the Georgia Association of Educators passes along to the Democrat Party hasn’t come to much here in Georgia. Parents will continue to want better for their children than too many traditional public schools are delivering.

And the other party is listening. You know—the one alienated by the teachers’ unions’ heavy-handed approach to partisan politics.


March 20th, 2013
8:53 am

When this passes, I wonder how much this will be used by groups of parents to seriously impact academic performance in their local school vs used to get revenge on a whole host of other issues that really gets parents fired up? At the high school level parents show in low numbers on curriculum nights, but beat the door down if you make a wrong decision on more important matters like sports, band or cheerleading.

Here is another part of this issue. Are their really that many awesome people who want to be a school administrator that aren’t getting that chance? Putting counties like Clayton and Dekalb aside where incompetense seems to be the rule, most counties are run to a reasonably responsible level. By that I mean the kids are safe and the budgets are balanced. Where are you going to find so many people that will work for around 100k that have the brilliance and passion to make schools excellent? That’s assuming that mediocre test scores are the result of mediocre administration. Which I don’t think is the heart of the problem anyway.


March 20th, 2013
8:57 am

The “Parent Trigger Laws” are being pushed by ALEC. They are nothing but a means to further undermine public schools and push for privitized Charter Schools. It’s all an agenda. Both parties are doing this to us.

There is a lot of money to be made from our school children. My Fulton County School child is now referred to as: A Customer What does that tell you?


March 20th, 2013
8:58 am

This whole bill is garbage. Often parents can be reactionary because of their own failures and can go and petition for something. Give me a break!!!! Same old republican garbage.

reality check

March 20th, 2013
9:04 am

I agree with mathmom

On an unrelated topic, Here in Republican East Cobb our public schools are doing very well. The students at Walton continue on a high achievement track, and if there is a clamor for charter schools around here I have missed it. Residents here passed the education SPLOST yesterday as an affirmation of our schools, even though they are not perfect.

I think the school board members are pretty lame, administration is mediocre at best, and teachers are good and doing the best they can fighting incompetence above them. The thing is that here parents are involved and voting their support.

Another View

March 20th, 2013
9:20 am

@ Bootney “if the legislature wants out of the education business so badly, why don’t they just start the mechanism to do so? this is like letting a person on life support starve to death.” I agree, but would they have to change the constitution? I am not sure if public education is in the constitution, so they would literally have to amend it to kill it. This is starve the beast, which is happening in the USG system as well.

AJC isn't me

March 20th, 2013
9:46 am

@Google NEA & donations -

Trouble is, the misnamed Georgia Association of Educators is run by leftist activists pursuing other political agendas: gay rights, pro-abortion, welfare expansion, etc.

Michael Moore

March 20th, 2013
10:19 am

In last week’s Savannah Morning News:

Maybe we can have these triggered schools fall under the charter schools in the US started by Turkish iman, Fethullah Gulen. See the 60 Minutes story:

Or read the AJC story about the Turkish charters in Fulton County:

[...] Take a look at this Google doc of the newly revised Parent Empowerment bill, notable for the clean sweep of any mention of teachers or educators. See my blog yesterday on the odd changes to this bill. [...]

Not Afraid to Say So

March 20th, 2013
11:07 am

I agree with excluding teachers from the petition for this reason:
Teachers are often negatively influenced by administrators. For example, if parents wanted to turn a public school into a charter school, school administration would likely try to bully teachers into fighting the petition.
The other reason is also obvious, or should be. Teachers are part of the school’s administration, the part that makes schools fail. So part of the plan to make a traditional public school into a charter public school is the ability for parents to fire bad teacheres. Bad teachers won’t want to lose their jobs and will fight the charter school.
Good teachers have nothing to worry about. They will always be in high demand.
In essence, when a school is failing, some teachers are part of the problem and they need to be fired or at least not hired by the charter school.
Today’s school administration is too cowardly and too bigoted to fire a poor-performing teacher.

Pride and Joy

March 20th, 2013
1:24 pm

Republican agenda?
I’m a Democrat and have never voted for a Republican in my life but I am for the parent trigger law.
People who lie and shout out that this is a Republican-controlled agenda are flat out wrong.
I’m a PARENT. I care about my CHILDREN, not the Republican party.
Those who see a Republican conspiracy in the parent-trigger law are objecting because they don’t want to be held accountable for doing their job adequately.
In other words, bad teachers and bad administrators and crooked politicians are afraid of being held accountable for learning.
Either step up and do your job– or we’ll pull the trigger and force you out.

bootney farnsworth

March 20th, 2013
1:32 pm

@ another

it would require amending the constitution, but at least that would be honest.
this is death by 10,000 cuts

C. Cloudwalker

March 20th, 2013
2:01 pm

So let me get this straight. Republicans are for less government and more business (generally). They SHOULD want the best qualified teachers teaching in productive environments, so that the best qualified potential workforce is “trained.” Since everyone has been so focused on how our leading lady CEO’s focus on their style of management to get the best work for their corporations, why is the NO focus on school board and superintendents in this issue of charter schools? If teachers and students get to do all the heavy lifting, why isn’t top level management feeling any of the heat. It seems as though they get a pass from this legislation either way.

Pride and Joy

March 20th, 2013
2:31 pm

Dina makes me laugh. I loved this comment by her “They are nothing but a means to further undermine public schools…”
Dina, in APS and in Dekalb, no one needs to undermine the public schools. The public schools in APS and Dekalb did a good job of doing that themselves.