PA Senate Revisits Parent Trigger

Published December 29, 2011

In passing a bill that would introduce vouchers, simplify and strengthen the state’s charter law, and expand education tax credits, Pennsylvania state senators dropped a Parent Trigger provision.

The Parent Trigger would have allowed a simple majority of parents to petition for a failing school to be converted to a charter school. Legislators excised the provision during lengthy debate on several school choice measures they sent the Pennsylvania House in October.

Gov. Tom Corbett’s (R) staff still hopes the provision will pass, said Pennsylvania Department of Education spokesman Tim Eller.

“We support the concept and look forward to continued discussions with the Legislature on the bill,” Eller said. Corbett’s administration expects further school choice provisions to be introduced during the current legislative session, said Corbett spokeswoman Janet Kelley.

Meanwhile, state senators have introduced two versions of the Trigger which allow parents to force changes such as closing a failing school, bringing in a private manager, or replacing the principal and most staff.

The Trigger “indicates a paradigm shift,” said Lawrence Jones, president of the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools. “[Parents] know when things are going wrong. And they truly have the most at stake.”

—Staff reports

Image by the U.S. Army.