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.
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