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New Bill Would Give Parents Power to Takeover Schools

6:10 AM, Jan 13, 2012   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- There's been a new bill filed in Tallahassee.

"It's something that makes sense if you're trying to make money off of schools, and that's about the only thing it makes sense for," said Save Duval Schools Executive Director Colleen Wood.

Education advocates from across the state are slamming the new Parent Empowerment Act filed in the Florida House and Senate.

The bill would allow for 51 percent of parents and faculty at any struggling public school to vote to disband the school and turn it over to a private management company.

"Sometimes you have a conflict at a school, and you would like to see things handled differently. And if someone comes along and says, 'Hey, I've got the answer.' All you have to do is sign this paper, and the school board has no say anymore," said Wood.

"We don't want a small group of disgruntled parents to mobilize everybody around a single issue and then have buyer's remorse," said Duval County Superintendent Ed Pratt Dannals.

After a number of heated community and school board meetings over the intervene schools in Duval County, Pratt Dannals said he understands the emotion behind it, but worries about the consequence.

"When you're talking about turning over one of the district facilities, what happens if it crashes and burns?" asked Pratt Dannals.

A Chicago-based lobbying firm has put up a website arguing in favor of the legislation in Florida.

Bruno Behrend, their Education Director, said in a phone interview that the parent trigger legislation is important because it begins the process of giving power to the parents, and that will affect faster change.

But education advocates across the state are asking whether that change will be a good one.

"If your belief is that private is always better than public, it fits perfectly. But that's not my belief, and it's not the belief of most citizens who see public education as a way for students to live the American Dream," said Wood.

The so-called trigger law is already on the books in California, Mississippi, and Texas.

It's only actually been used once, and that case is in court.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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