Parent Trigger Could Come to Louisiana

Parents are on the verge of gaining more power in Louisiana – with the help of groups who don't typically align themselves on the side of parents. According to The New Orleans Times-Picayune, teachers unions and education officials have come together to show lawmakers that they support the version of the so-called parent trigger law that would allow parents of students to petition to transfer control of a failing school from the Recovery School District to the local system.

According to bill sponsor Representative Ted James of Baton Rouge, the measure is not meant as a slap on the RSD, which has done much to improve the quality of schools around the state. Instead, the measure would merely put more control in the hands of parents who have recently complained that their voices aren't being listened to enough when it comes to education reform decisions.

James said although Wednesday's version of the bill included multiple amendments to address concerns from the RSD, the district's leaders still were not in support of the legislation. One amendment requested by the RSD, and included by James, states parents cannot petition for removal for Type 5 charter schools.

Other than the RSD, the other major educational stakeholders all seemed to be in favor of the bill. Teachers unions, such as the Louisiana Federation of Teachers and Louisiana Association of Educators, said the bill allows parents to demand more accountability and faster results from the RSD.

Even parties that do not typically line up on the same side of the issue with teachers unions – such as the voucher-supporting Louisiana Black Alliance for Educational Options – support the measure, believing that it would give parents more options when deciding the optimal place to send their kids.

John White, Louisiana's Superintendent, also endorses the bill.

Speaking after committee Wednesday, James made mention to the parents of Benjamin Mays Preparatory School, who pleaded with the Orleans Parish School Board to take over control of their school after years of failing grades under the RSD. James said his bill would give those parents another option. However, since Mays is a Type 5 Charter School, it would not fall under the schools for which the parent trigger would apply.

The measure has passed without opposition from the House Education Committee and is now expected to go before the full body on the House floor for further debate and an eventual vote.

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