Louisiana OKs parent trigger

Louisiana’s state board of education has approved a parent trigger option. However the state — not the parents — would decide who runs the school, reports the Advocate. If a school earns a D or F grade for three years in a row, a majority of parents will be able to trigger a state takeover. Currently, the state gives D and F schools four years to improve. Nearly one out of five public schools in Louisiana meets the takeover criteria, according to the state education department.

Last week, the U.S. Conference of Mayors endorsed the parent trigger idea with big-city Democratic mayors leading the charge.

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  1. It has become clear that charter operators don’t want to take over existing challenged schools, which means that all the fanfare over the Parent Trigger was pointless and it’s destined to fizzle.

    • I’d offer to make you bet on what will fizzle if there were some way to manage it.

      Still, it is gratifying to read your “whistling past the grave yard” comment.

      By the way, Michigan’s also interested enough in parent trigger to pass a law through the state Senate. It’s in the House now and would still have to go to the Governor’s desk.

      By the way, how many states have to adopt parent trigger before it’s no longer “destined to fizzle”? Louisiana makes what? Three? Four?

  2. Actually Caroline what I read out of this is the politically connected charter operators will get handed schools to take over, regardless of their actual ability to run a school.

    • Har! Haven’t we been here before?

      Oh yeah. The public education system’s tragically underfunded and charter operators want to extract their filthy profits from what should be the morally uplifting blessing of teaching children. The cads!

      Flog ’em! Flog ’em I say!

  3. tim-10-ber says:

    Not a good solution…bummer

  4. Roger Sweeny says:

    Parental trigger laws have the potential to get us some very, very useful data.

    Right now, charter schools are different enough from plain vanilla public schools that it is difficult (or more likely, impossible) to statistically “control” for all the variables. But if new management takes over an existing school and has to run it with the same students, only one thing has changed.

    It will be fascinating to see which schools improve and which schools don’t. And to ask further questions: How much improvement is there in the improving schools? How many schools get worse, and by how much? Are there commonalities between the improving schools? Are there changes that all bad schools can make to improve things? Are there things NOT to do? And so on.

  5. @Roger, there would have to be a Parent Trigger takeover somewhere, anywhere, before anyone could “see which schools improve.” There haven’t been any, anywhere, and my prediction is that there won’t be, because (again) charter operators do not want to take over troubled exisitng schools.

    It was huge news when the Green Dot charter operator took over Locke High School in Watts entirely BECAUSE that’s so rare and other charter operators aren’t willing to do it, and others haven’t been following suit since the Locke takeover.

    So yes, @Allen, state legislatures may be approving Parent Trigger laws, but their purpose is to turn existing schools over to charter operators, and charter operators don’t want them. (@Mike, that goes for politically connected charter operators too. KIPP once tried taking over a troubled school and it collapsed immediately.) That would be true if every state legislature in the nation approved a Parent Trigger law.

    • Roger Sweeny says:

      Caroline, you may well be right. You know a lot more about a lot of these things than I do. But why then do the teachers’ unions oppose parental trigger laws so strongly? If the laws are just going to sit on the books and have no practical effect, why spend time and money to defeat them?

  6. The reason charter operators taking over schools from districts is so rare is because districts fight the loss of a facility tooth and nail.

    It’s bad enough having a charter open up close enough to give parents a choice but it’s entirely more threatening to have your domain reduced by having a school handed over to a charter operator.

    Also, parental trigger’s a new danger and the defenders of the status quo were caught flatfooted. Takes time to formulate a response that has much chance of having an effect and so far you guys haven’t managed the trick.

    It is funny though how your troubles keep multiplying.

    It used to be that reform consisted of buying some new books and making a big pretense of change but it looks like there’s only so much of that sort of eye-wash up with which the public is willing to put. So charter limits are being raised at the same time as voucher programs are sailing through legislatures in which they previously died at the same time as teacher and school accountability are getting a resurgence of interest.

    And to top it off the municipal unions, preeminent among which were teacher’s unions, are taking a beating at the polls and in the legislatures as well. Kind of makes you wonder what besides inertia is holding back some really sweeping changes.

    State-wide vouchers?

    • No, actually you have it all bassackward, @Allen. Even Parent Revolution (the org that created the Parent Trigger) is acknowledging that charters don’t like to take over existing troubled schools — especially if many parents don’t want the charter there at all, as has been the case with both real-life parent triggers. Charter operators like to start their own schools in their own way. Parent Revolution has started acknowledging that and saying their new strategy is just to vaguely empower parents.

      Back in the day, once-hailed, now-fizzled for-profit Edison Schools largely took over existing schools, and that experiment crashed and burned. As I say, when KIPP took one over (in Colorado), it hastily bailed out. Locke in LA is showing mixed results at very best. In NYC, Bloomberg is handing schools over to charter operators, but he shuts the schools down, sends the kids elsewhere and THEN lets the charters start a new school. Other charter operators have learned to be wary from watching the collapses of takeover schools.

      @Roger, I guess the imminent failure wasn’t all that evident. A teachers’ union official was widely mocked for referring to the Parent Trigger as a “witch hunt,” but it it did look like it might be potentially used that way. The fact that parents are highly unlikely to be united in antipathy to their kids’ teachers, and charter operators’ extreme reluctance to take over existing troubled schools, apparently were obscured by all the hype.

      • In view of the fact that the California school districts that have had to face the consequences of their incompetence due to parental trigger are fighting very hard to hang onto their little kingdoms I’d say parental trigger is a fabulous success.

        Parental trigger presents a new and intriguing danger to a comfortable status quo that can oversee the decades-long miseducation of kids with not a bit of concern over the failure to perform the task for which they exist and given the proliferating dangers to that cushy status quo I have to wonder how long it’ll be before that status quo starts looking ripe for some real changes?

        By the way, you never did provide any evidence that charter waiting lists are bogus so, re-plowing essentially the same field, I see you’re trying to get by vague implication, unsupported assertion and crude misrepresentation what you can’t get via a recounting of the facts.

        The facts are that parental trigger’s caught that comfortable status quo flatfooted and is causing a widespread peeing of pants in fear. Since every, single exercise of parental trigger has to be individually opposed, once the law allowing the practice passes, the prospect is of the “death of a thousand cuts”.

        With the passage of a single law the comfortable certainty that a rotten district school can stay rotten forever is undercut and in the worst possible way – by empowering the least important people in the public education system, parents.

        • It sounds great in theory, but in reality, that’s not happening. The “every single exercise of parent trigger” has turned out to be a total of 2, both failures. And after that, even Parent Revolution is acknowledging that the plans aren’t panning out (due to charter operators’ apparently unanticipated resistance).

          As for the charter sector’s claims of “long waiting lists,” those making the claims and those parroting them unquestioned are the ones who need to provide the proof.

          • I’m trying to think of some measure of public poicy that would draw forth a more violent reaction from you proponents of the public education status quo and, even more then vouchers, parental trigger sounds like it has to be very nearly optimal.

            Parental trigger isn’t like charter law in that a charter may open here and may open there. Draw away a kid here or there and, maybe, over years actually have an impact on attendence. Besides, they’re public schools meaning, once public apathy about education returns, they’ll be relatively easily, so the calculation goes, gotten rid of.

            Vouchers are a bit scarier to folks like you because they represent something a parent can hold in their hand and invest with ownership.

            It’s tougher to take away what someone may feel they own then it is to dissolve a facility they’re using so vouchers are more worrisome. Still, voucher-accepting schools could only expand relatively slowly so, more dangerous then charters.

            Now along comes parental trigger and it’s got to look pretty scary in that it’ll certainly find the most appeal to parents who have nothing to lose in voting to go charter and in one, fell swoop a district is reduced by the loss of entire school.

            Not a kid here and a kid there but a whole building and all the budget that goes with it. Bang. Gone. Pretty scary.

            There there’s the wider political implications of parental trigger.

            If you status quo lovers are busy fighting parental trigger will you have the resources to also fight vouchers? Tenure reform? Holding the lid on charter caps? The decision was obviously made some time ago to give ground on charters but hold the line solidly on vouchers. I just wonder how long it’ll be before a torrent’s unleased as the power of the public education status quo to maintain itself clearly declines?

            Heck, this might be the year that happens.

            Oh, and with regard to those charter school waiting lists, if you think they’re bogus feel free to offer some proof. The National Association of Charter School Academies did a survey of it’s member schools and published the results so there’s your proof. If you feel the survey is fraudulant feel free to offer some proof in support.

            Or you can relate one of those marvelous anecdotes about someone you know who claims to have an experience which puts a shadow over the survey.

            Yeah, that’s got to be nearly as good as a nationwide survey of 5,600 charter schools.