Parent trigger: Empowerment or distraction?

California’s “parent trigger” law lets a majority of parents force changes at a chronically low-performing school,  including a new administration or conversion to a charter school.  Is the parent trigger a positive step or a distraction? Ben Boychuk, associate editor of City Journal, debates Julie Cavanagh, a special ed teacher in Brooklyn, on the Public Sector Inc. site. The discussion, which kicked off today, will go on for four days.


  1. It’s gratifying to see that Julie Cavanagh, the opposing voice in the debate, has nothing more to offer then the crucial importance of maintaining the educational status quo.

    The irony is of course that parents are vastly more likely to value a good teacher then the school boards and administrators that the exercise of parental trigger would displace.

    • Having a seat at the table is not the same thing as knowing what to do once you are there. One parent thinks teacher gives too much homework and the other doesn’t think she gives enough. We beat teachers mercilessly in the press, prefer to rate them on the basis of their ability to improve “test scores” yet we don’t compensate them well enough to retain them and we disrupt the relationships they have established with families by laying them off (last in, first out) each year. How would you evaluate teacher and administrator performance without subjective references? When you can’t get past that, what will you now do with the “power” of the parent trigger?

      New boss…. same as the old boss.

    • Not tough to see how those excuses are working out since nineteen states are taking a hard look at parental trigger.