New Jersey Parent Trigger Shows Promise

Published December 13, 2010

Today New Jersey state Sen. Joe Kyrillos (R-Monmouth) introduced The Parent Empowerment and Choice Act, a bill that would allow parents to trigger reform on a school-by-school basis.

The Heartland Institute applauds Sen. Kyrillos for supporting the Parent Trigger in New Jersey. Over the past several months the Heartland Institute has been working with Senator Kyrillos and other elected officials nationwide to design effective Parent Trigger legislation.

According to Marc Oestreich, legislative specialist on education policy at The Heartland Institute, “this is a bold plan for student-centered education reform in New Jersey.”

The Parent Trigger, which originated in California and has since been refined by The Heartland Institute, allows a simple majority of parents at a school to “trigger” one of three reform options: close the school and allow students to transfer to better-performing public schools, convert the school into a charter school, or give parents vouchers to use at the schools of their choosing.

Bruno Behrend, director of the Center for School Reform at The Heartland Institute, said, “This is a powerful, positive step toward real educational transformation. The Parent Trigger, augmented by other robust reforms, empowers parents to take control of their child’s education from the system that is failing so many.”

Similar legislation is being drafted in Indiana, Michigan, Utah, and West Virginia.

The Heartland Institute is a 26-year-old national nonprofit research and education organization based in Chicago. It does not lobby for the introduction or passage of legislation. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit The Heartland Institute Web site at or the School Reform News Web site at or call 312/377-4000.