`Trigger Law’ Gains Momentum

Published December 21, 2010

The Daily Breeze is correct to recognize the possibility for real transformation in California’s “parent trigger” law. (“Power to the parents,” Editorial page, Sunday). If the reaction in Compton is any indication, the education establishment fears the law.

School administrators and teachers unions are attempting to smear the effort in Compton to convert a failing elementary school into a charter school as “Astroturf” – a phony grassroots campaign. In reality, Compton parents are fighting fire with fire, using professional organizers to combat powerful and well-financed special interests.

But the success or failure of the Compton petition won’t say much about the viability of parent trigger laws around the country. The beauty of the parent trigger is that it’s truly voluntary. Nobody has to sign a petition. But the trigger empowers parents who would otherwise be marginalized or shut out of local school district policymaking. Fact is, several states – including New Jersey, Indiana and West Virginia – have either introduced or are circulating drafts of bills that build on the strengths of California’s law. Several more – including Georgia, Michigan, North Dakota and Utah – are considering their own legislation.

California seems to have started a revolution. Other states are well poised to advance it.

– Ben Boychuk

Managing editor, School Reform News

The Heartland Institute, Chicago