School trigger laws enhance local control

The Oklahoman Editorial Published: February 4, 2013
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As state legislators debate major issues this year, we hope Senate Bill 1001 isn't lost in the mix. The “Parent Empowerment Act,” better known as the “parent trigger” law, deserves lawmakers' attention.

Under the bill, if a majority of parents in an underperforming school sign a petition, they can force the school's transition to a charter school or force the firing of current administrators. Schools facing this prospect would be those getting a D or an F for at least two consecutive years on their state report card, or a D or F for two of three years if the most recent grade is low.

The concept has bipartisan support. Its authors are state Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, and state Sen. Jabar Shumate, D-Tulsa.

Too often, officials blame “student demographics” for poor school performance. In plain English, that translates: “Poor + minority = academic laggard.” Holt and Shumate rightfully reject that line of thinking. They believe all children can learn if a school is properly managed.

Some may question who would rush to assume oversight of a failing school once administrators are dismissed. That wasn't a problem when the parent trigger was used at an elementary school in Los Angeles. Eight providers, including six existing nonprofit charter school operators, quickly expressed interest.

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