MEDIA ADVISORY: Heartland Institute Experts React to Parent Trigger Bill Passing the Indiana Legislature

April 21, 2011
Jim Lakely

The Indiana House today passed its version of the Parent Trigger, a reform idea that forces radical change in a public school if half the parents whose children attend the school sign a petition. The Indiana Senate passed the bill a few weeks ago.

The following statements by education policy experts at The Heartland Institute may be used for attribution. For further comments, refer to the contact information below.
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“With today’s House vote, Indiana has become the second state to pass powerful new Parent Trigger legislation. Indiana’s much-improved version of California’s landmark Parent Trigger is a game-changer in the national school reform effort.

“The Parent Trigger will give Indiana parents the ability to take back control of their children’s education and not feel powerless. At least a dozen other states are considering similar legislation and should be encouraged by Indiana’s actions today.”

John Nothdurft
Director of Government Relations
The Heartland Institute
312/377-4000
jnothdurft@heartland.org
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“One of the virtues of the Parent Trigger is the law’s adaptability. What might work for California might also work for Indiana. Or it might not. The remedies the law may provide might also vary by state. As a political matter, vouchers wouldn’t fly in California. They might work beautifully in Indiana.

“Another virtue of the Parent Trigger is the way the law can empower parents at the expense of bureaucrats. Public education is beset with all sorts of special interests and ‘stakeholders’ – teachers, janitors, bus drivers, compliance officers, central office clerks. The bureaucracy always has an advantage. The Parent Trigger helps equalize the playing field.

“It’s worth remembering, happy parents don’t sign petitions. Unhappy parents are those who have gone through all the proper channels and hit a wall. They’ve found no relief in what the system currently has to offer. The Parent Trigger is one more weapon in an arsenal of choice.”

Ben Boychuk
Managing Editor, School Reform News
The Heartland Institute
818/389-2931
bboychuk@heartland.org
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“Schools in Indiana are failing to make the grade, and parents are afforded virtually no recourse when their children fall victim to a failing school. A Foundation for Educational Choice poll recently found that among respondents in six polled states, Hoosiers are most likely to see their public education system as failing. The Parent Trigger’s passage empowers parents, increases the level of competition among schools, and saves taxpayers money.

“An Indiana Parent Trigger means empowered parents and localized control. And every bit of research on those two outcomes shows significant gains in achievement, graduation rates, and parental satisfaction. This reform, thanks to the hard work of Indiana legislators, puts Indiana well ahead of the curve and will fundamentally reshape the way we look at education policy.”

Marc Oestreich
Legislative Analyst
The Heartland Institute
312/377-4000
moestreich@heartland.org
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“Today’s move by the Indiana legislature represents the most significant action yet to expand parental empowerment. Indiana’s passage of the Parent Trigger begins the process of transforming education policy from a bureaucracy-based system focusing on expanding spending to a parent-based system focusing on the needs of the children.”

Bruno Behrend
Director, Center for School Reform
The Heartland Institute
312/377-4000
bbehrend@heartland.org
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The Heartland Institute is a 27-year-old national nonprofit organization with offices in Chicago and Washington, DC. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our Web site at http://www.heartland.org or call 312/377-4000.