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Jeb Bush's foundation stepping up support for parent-trigger bill

4:17 PM, Mar 26, 2013   |    comments
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla.  -- Former Governor Jeb Bush's Foundation for Florida's Future is going on the offensive in support of the so-called parent-trigger bill at the state Capitol.

The controversial legislation would let parents organize petition drives that could give them more control over failing schools. Under the bill, school boards would be required to consider a turnaround plan from parents following a successful petition drive.

Critics argue the legislation would open the door to for-profit charter school management companies to take over public schools. They say large charter school companies are spending a lot of money on lobbyists to push for the bill at the Capitol.

But Patricia Levesque, executive director of the Foundation for Florida's Future, calls that argument nonsense.

"What the bill does is give parents of kids at failing schools a seat at the table so they can help make a recommendation to the school board on how the school board should intervene with that failing school. That's what the bill is about. Empowering parents. Give them a seat at the table. Let them have a say in the interventions that are done at their child's school."

Levesque argues a similar measure has paved the way for positive changes in California. She said parents have used a "parent empowerment" law to get new equipment and services for students.

"In California where they have the law, parents have had a say. Parents been able to get a lot of great changes in their child's school like computer labs, after-school tutoring and more services for students who don't speak English as their native language. They've had great success now that parents have a seat at the table in discussions of what's going to happen with their child's school."

The Florida Education Association contends the legislation was conceived by a national education reform movement that aims to make a profit off public schools.

FEA director of Public Policy Advocacy Jeff Wright said parent groups and civil-rights organizations are strongly opposed to the measure.

"There's no clamor from Florida parents for this legislation."

First Coast News

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