Pull the Trigger on Failing D.C. Schools

Published December 20, 2010

Regarding California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Dec. 16 op-ed, “In California, a school reclaimed”:

Mr. Schwarzenegger may not be a great governor, but when the history of school reform is written, he deserves a large measure of credit for signing the nation’s first “parent trigger” law. California’s law, which empowers 50 percent of qualified parents with students at a failing school to force a school district to adopt one of several school turnaround strategies, is inspiring similar—and vastly stronger—legislation in New Jersey, Indiana and West Virginia. Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Dakota and Utah may soon follow suit.

Why not add the District to that growing list? The new Republican majority in the House of Representatives is likely to at least attempt to revive the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, which provided scholarships to low-income families to send their children to the school of their choice. The program enjoys bipartisan support in the Senate.

Suppose Congress let D.C. parents “trigger” a failing school and gave them the option of a scholarship as a remedy? That would be truly revolutionary reform.

Ben Boychuk ([email protected]) is managing editor of School Reform News.