Florida parent trigger bill gets another green light – and growing opposition

Sherri Ackerman

The Florida parent trigger bill cleared another hurdle in the Legislature on Tuesday, getting a 7-5 party-line committee vote in the face of heavy opposition.

Rep. Trujillo is a co-sponsor of the House parent trigger bill

Rep. Trujillo is a co-sponsor of the House parent trigger bill

At least 27 people signed up to speak against the bill. Four others signed up in support.

“This legislation is not being called for from parents in Florida,’’ Jeff Wright, director of public policy advocacy for the Florida Education Association, told members of the House Education Appropriations Subcommittee. “The fact is, every credible parent group, including the Florida PTA, the NAACP and LULAC Florida are opposed to this bill.’’

HB 867 would allow parents with children in an F-rated school to petition the school district to consider a turnaround plan that could involve bringing in a charter company. A majority of parents would need to sign the petition.

A similar bill passed the House last year, but was defeated in a down-to-the-wire tie vote in the Senate. A companion to this year’s House bill has yet to move through the Senate, but Tuesday’s hearing suggested rising drama, again. As they did last year, opponents said the bill was a vehicle to privatize public schools.

Determining the direction of a school “should be a collaboration between teachers and parents,” Donald Peace, a 32-year veteran public school teacher from New Port Richey, told lawmakers.

But the bill’s co-sponsor, Rep. Carlos Trujillo, R-Miami, said parents still don’t have the best seat at the table when it comes to making educational choices for their children – and the parent trigger helps them get it.

“The person who knows what’s best for their child is the parent,’’ he said.

Only one parent, a mother from Quincy, spoke in support of the bill. Representatives from the Foundation for Florida’s Future, Students First and the Florida Chamber of Commerce also voiced their support.

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