Romney Supports Parent Trigger, Obama Says No Comment

Published June 20, 2012

Recent reports claiming the Obama administration supports Parent Trigger or parent empowerment legislation are untrue.

The administration has not yet taken a public stance on the issue, U.S. Department of Education spokesman Justin Hamilton told School Reform News. Parent Trigger laws have passed in four states after first becoming California law in 2010. They allow parents whose children attend a failing school to require various reforms if a majority agrees, such as closing the school, converting it to a charter school, or allowing students to take state dollars to any school they wish.

Reuters reported in May that the Obama administration supports Parent Trigger laws. Ben Austin, executive director of advocacy group Parent Revolution, told the Arizona Capitol Times the same thing in February. Parent Revolution Deputy Director Gabe Rose told SRN the source of Austin’s claim: a 2010 New York Times article.

Democratic Roots
That article said U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan supported Parent Trigger efforts at McKinley Elementary in Compton, California. Because of lawsuits, parents who pulled the trigger there still have not seen the law’s promised effects.

Hamilton said while Duncan has a record of supporting parent empowerment within schools, it does not signify an endorsement of such legislation on behalf of the Obama administration.

A Democrat was first to propose Parent Trigger legislation. Parent Revolution has progressive, community organizing roots and leaders who publicly declare themselves Democrats. Teachers unions, which overwhelmingly support Democratic candidates, have fought vociferously against Parent Trigger legislation and other parental empowerment measures such as vouchers.

Romney States Support
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, however, has vocalized support for parent empowerment on several occasions.

Andrea Saul, Romney’s press secretary, said in an e-mail that Romney believes Parent Trigger legislation is “a good example of parental empowerment/involvement that he supports at the state level.”

“This is a state-specific law and should remain that way,” she added.

Romney publicly expressed support for the law in an education platform speech and his campaign’s accompanying white paper, “A Chance for Every Child.”

“When your cause in life is preventing parents from having a meaningful choice or children from having a real chance, then you are on the wrong side,” Romney said in his speech, calling out teachers unions. “You might even be in the wrong vocation, because good teachers put the interests of children first.”


Image by Mark Taylor.