Parent trigger bill stalls in Senate: The trigger wasn’t pulled but the bill was.

Earlier this session, folks in the Georgia Senate told me that the parent trigger bill was unlikely to win passage. I thought they were wrong when the bill flew through the House but today’s events suggest my sources were right.

House Majority Whip Edward Lindsey, R-Atlanta, withdrew his parent-trigger charter school legislation amid doubts by his GOP Senate colleagues.

Seven states have enacted parent trigger laws; Georgia was among three state considering them. House Bill 123 would have allowed a majority of the parents or a majority of the faculty and instructional staff  to petition for a complete overhaul of the school by converting to charter school status or another turnaround model.

The Georgia bill had three unique aspects. It gave the final say-so to local boards of education. It permitted teachers in failing schools to also petition for a management overhaul. And it allowed parents in high achieving schools to petition to turn their schools into charter schools.

The Senate had already made a major alterations to Lindsey’s bill, eradicating the provision that allowed teachers in failing schools to petition schools boards for a management overhaul.

According to the AJC:

Lindsey’s legislation, House Bill 123, had already passed the state House of Representatives and seemed to be on a glide path to passage in the Senate. But the bill — which would force school boards to consider a petition from parents or teachers to change a traditional public school into a charter school — ran into problems in the Senate’s Education and Youth Committee.

Instead of the bill being voted out of that committee Thursday, Chairman Lindsey Tippins, R-Marietta, announced that Lindsey had asked that the legislation be withdrawn. “It didn’t have the votes,” Tippins said.

“Rep. Lindsey realized there were some concerns about it,” Tippins said. “It is late in the session, and I think Rep. Lindsey just felt that, rather than have it be a point of contention, he’d just wait.”

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

17 comments Add your comment

living in an outdated ed system

March 21st, 2013
9:19 pm

I must say, this is a VERY surprising development. Once the senate changed the bill from the House version, I am glad it got pulled. The bill was rushed to begin with, and it’s better that they redraft it and get it right in the next session. This is good for Georgia. There may still be a Parent Trigger, but lets make sure the intent is is not compromised.


March 21st, 2013
9:32 pm

Republicans have always been a little slow on the Trigger…..:(


March 22nd, 2013
12:30 am

Hmmm…..I wasn’t aware of the provision for parents at high achieving schools to ask for it to be a charter. That’ll never fly, even with a rewrite.

Cindy Lutenbacher

March 22nd, 2013
5:47 am

I wonder if anyone has looked into how well this law has worked in other states. I apologize that I cannot remember my sources, but I’ve read that the few times the “trigger” has been pulled, the results were dismal. I also recall reading that the parent petitions for two of these school situations were actually promoted by paid organizers who went door-to-door to get enough signatures. They were paid by fronts for corporations trying to become the for-profit institution running the schools.

If my details are a little off, someone please correct me, but I believe that the gist is correct.


March 22nd, 2013
6:40 am

Cindy….you are correct. There are many groups with paid organizers serving their corporate masters.

mountain man

March 22nd, 2013
6:46 am

It was a worthless bill, anyway. How often are 60% of parents going to sign a petition?

Holly Jones

March 22nd, 2013
7:23 am

@Mountain Man-Amen. If a school is failing, my bet is that at least 60% of the parents are not involved- it’s not always the teachers’ or administrators’ fault despite so many posts to contrary. Thus, they won’t bother signing a petition or doing the work to turn a school around.

I am also very concerned with not specifying that this is for low achieving schools. I though the whole point was to help those schools- oh wait, no. The real intent is clear now- to turn all education over to the “market.” Just like the SSOs. It’s never been about helping kids in bad schools. It’s always been about getting government subsidies (A.K.A. welfare- how ironic for the party of personal responsibility and smaller gov’t) for private school tuition via the SSOs and letting corporate interests run the schools like they do the rest of the government.

Maureen Downey

March 22nd, 2013
8:19 am

@Cindy, First pulling of the trigger in California is still unfolding. Too soon to report any results: Here is a Jan. 28th LA Times story from about it:

Mojave Desert parents made history Tuesday by becoming the first Californians to successfully use the state’s landmark parent trigger law to win approval of new charter management for their failing school.

After an 18-month legal and political battle over the law, the Adelanto school board voted unanimously to approve the request by parents at Desert Trails Elementary School that a charter school operator take over their campus beginning in August. The chosen operator, LaVerne Elementary Preparatory Academy, is based in Hesperia and is affiliated with the University of La Verne.

The successful vote came after two opponents of the parent trigger petition lost the school board election in November and a third opponent left his seat for the Adelanto City Council. One of the new school board members, Teresa Rogers, was a parent leader of the petition campaign.

“We applaud the school board members for their courage and commitment,” Desert Trails parent leader Cynthia Ramirez said in a statement. “The school board has set an example for other parents and districts across the country on how to use Parent Trigger legislation to transform otherwise failing public schools,” Ramirez said.

The 2010 parent trigger law allows parents to petition to overhaul their failing school by replacing staff and revising the curriculum, closing the campus or converting to an independent, publicly financed charter school. More than 20 other states have considered a similar law and at least six others besides California have adopted one, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The law also inspired the film “Won’t Back Down,” which was released last year.

But so far, Adelanto and Compton are the only two communities in California that have organized petition campaigns — both of them led by Parent Revolution, the nonprofit educational advocacy organization that lobbied for the law. In both cases, the campaigns became embroiled in bitter legal battles and charges on both sides of deceit and harassment. The Compton effort failed.

In Adelanto, parents expressed excitement over the new start for their school, where only one-third of sixth-graders are at grade level in reading and math. The school’s achievement score on a 1,000-point scale known as the Academic Performance Index fell by 13 points to 699 last year.

In contrast, LaVerne Elementary’s score rose to 911 last year from 869. About two-thirds of its sixth-graders were at grade level in English and just over half in math. Only 17 sixth-graders were tested at LaVerne, however, compared to 95 at Desert Trails. LaVerne also has a student body with less poverty and higher parent education levels.

Cindy Lutenbacher

March 22nd, 2013
8:28 am

Thanks, Maureen. You’re right that it’s premature to talk about results from these two tiny cases. Of course, you know that I don’t put much stock in standardized test scores, anyway.

I’m pretty sure that I read about Parent Revolution–and that it’s funded by corporate interests.

I worry about so-called reforms, especially when they’re pushed down our throats by entities whose central purpose is profit, rather than kids. In my sixty years upon this planet, I’ve seen over and over again that the two are pretty much mutually exclusive.

living in an outdated ed system

March 22nd, 2013
9:34 am

I continue to be amazed with folks who say that funding by corporate interests is automatically bad. Lets not forget the billions in monopoly profits the textbook publishers extract from K-12 education. A company can be “for profit” and have its values in the right place. The problem is that there have never been multiple options for content, so you are stuck with the publishers whether you like their business practices or not. If a company does not understand the responsibility that comes with selling to students, then districts should be able to cease business with that company.

We really need to change the conversation, because this is part of the fear-mongering propaganda that the self-interest groups like the NEA continue to spread to the masses.

Private Citizen

March 22nd, 2013
10:06 am

A company can be “for profit” and have its values in the right place. The problem is that there have never been multiple options for content,

The problem is that in the USA is it getting to the point that we have no services. And the minute you get sick you’re bankrupt. I know a guy who got a splinter in his finger ten years ago and it cost him $2000. Dentistry? Pull the tooth. Old age? Sign your home over to the hospital before they provide treatment. If I had kids, I’d tell them to leave and go find a civilised country to live in where workers are not denied services or are exploited to the max when services are required.

As an adult, want to “get educated?” Online garbage from state school billed at $900. for 3 hours for a course via computer, which usually means somebody giving you busy work and a fake “discussion.” Then you figure out you can make more income digging ditches than using the “associates degree” except if you get a splinter from the shovel.

Going to be a lot of smooth shovel handles in Georgia for a long time. It is like we’re reverting to the 1920s. Lockdown on services. The republicans are in a panic and lock all resources. The democrats want to do mind control so people adjust to “the new norm.” How many big crooks does Obama put in jail? None. Zero. And the people, especially the republicans, are so dumb that they have forgotten what are markets and competition. That, and doing real smart stuff like privatising prisons as a for-profit growth industry.

CJae of EAV

March 22nd, 2013
10:57 am

So there appears to be some sanity left in the GA legislature after all. As I’ve stated multiple times in blog threads on this topic, the so called unquie aspects of the bill are to the best of my knowledge in large part already written into the Charter School law(s) on the books NOW !!!

Existing charter law already allows for any individual school(failing or not) by majority vote of parents & faculty to petition the local board for charter conversion. As a consequence, the local board already as the final say-so over acceptance of a petition for charter conversion that has met the qualifying standard. What missing in existing law and the bill that was proposed was the any reference to an appeal process if the local board rejects the petition, which I would presume may be to submit the same petition for charter conversion to the State Charter Commission for approval if rejected just as new charter petitioners are allowed to do.

Thus the only truly unique element of the bill that doesn’t already exist in law is an allowance that would have permitted teachers in “failing” schools (not sure how failing was to be defined in law) to petition for a management overhaul as a function separate from a petition for charter conversion.

At the end of the day, this parent trigger bill was not needed. Again as far as I know, there are no examples within the last 10 years of any parent/faulty constituency forming the critical mass as prescribed in law to petition for charter conversion. Instead most of what we see is parents begging local boards to keep low performing and under populated schools open absent any manifest commitment institute fundamental changes governance or academic delivery. If so many parents across the metro area are really fed up with what the local board / central office governance is producing in their area, it’s time for people in mass to build the coalition required and put their money where their mouth is.

Having lived some moment of the experience, I can attest that institution building absent the status quo local district structural supports is not an easy task and is often met with tremendous political pressures by the local district who publically project support but behind the scenes do all that can to set you up for failure.

Stepping down from my soapbox now, but I hope I’ve added some value to this ongoing dialouge :)


March 22nd, 2013
6:52 pm

The trouble with this law is that it showed the talent that fat-cat corporations have for finding a soft spot. The first (unspoken) law of advertising is find a source of unhappiness and promise a cure with any given product. So you see highly unlikely scenarios played out on TV: deodorant solving social inadequacy, vodka gaining friends etc. Infact all advertising plays on the same premise – one MUST be liked/respected by one’s peers. With parents you have a triple play – we want our kids to get on with teachers, get on with their peers and get on with us. Plus we want our kids’ teachers and friends to respect us. Obviously the sinple ability to convert a school to charter school status will provide all that, right?
I am delighted this stupid law was kicked out, as it should be.


March 22nd, 2013
8:32 pm

There is the possibility of more political motive for Lindsey withdrawing the bill. Indications are that he is ambitious to run for US Senate…when actions only impact his district .. he more frisky…his position on the trigger bill could have the consequence of offending the folks he would wish to curry in a statewide race..good old boy politics at play.I for one will not vote for him..he is a divisive personality.


March 22nd, 2013
9:34 pm

I agree with Bob, this has more to do with Lindsey’s new political aspirations. Unfortunately for him, he has shown everyone what his priorities are with his Amendment One and wasting state time trying to take over Fulton County.

Senator Chance, the voters in your district want you to know if you support a $60,000.00 homestead exemption in Fulton County, you should support it in our counties, too. Heck, I bet every homeowning taxpayer in the state would be in favor. If it’s a good idea in one county, then it’s a great idea for the whole state.

Pride and Joy

March 23rd, 2013
8:22 pm

The trigger will be pulled in GA. It’s just a matter of time. Just like the charter amendment.


March 24th, 2013
10:47 am

There have been 3 blogs on Get Schooled about the parent trigger bill and its problems as drafted, one with 30 comments, another with 78 comments, and another with 102 comments. I can’t help wondering if we bloggers have affected the legislators here….one can dream.