given to a charter operator authorized by either the local school district or the state, or partial control given to a non-profit Education Management Organization.*If the parent petition does not specify a charter operator for the charter conversion, the district should conduct an RFPprocess to find the best charter for the school takeover. If the district fails to do this in 30 days of validating thepetition, the state must conduct an RFP process to find the best charter for the school takeover.2)
If parents want huge changes but want to leave the school district in charge, this option should be petitioned. Aturnaround forces the school district to hit the reset button by replacing at least half of the teaching staff and the schoolleadership and giving the new principal more control over staffing and budget.3)
This is the least significant change. It forces the school district to find a new principal, gives more autonomy to theprincipal and implements a broad school improvement plan.4)
This option would close the school altogether and send the students to other, higher-performing schools nearby.
If parents want smaller changes at their child’s school but the school district will not listen to them, they can organize and usetheir signatures as bargaining power.Perhaps the most important power provided by the Parent Trigger is the ability for parents to use their signatures as bargainingpower with the district. There are certainly many instances where parents desire important changes that do not necessarily fitinto the four school transformation options specifically outlined in The Parent Empowerment Act; and these parent demands are,in most instances, completely ignored by the school district. In this very likely scenario, parents can organize around one of theoutlined options without the explicit intent of actually implementing a turnaround strategy. Rather, the organized parents can usetheir signatures as a credible threat to force the district to listen to and meet their demands for improving their child’s school.This bargaining power holds the most transformative potential impact of the Parent Trigger: by giving parents—no matter whattheir socioeconomic status —a real seat at the decision making table of public education, we can transform the way the schooldistrict approaches systemically reforming education by emphasizing that all decisions be made in the best interest of children,rather than adults.
The Petition Process:
1) Formal participation in the petition process is limited to parents with children currently enrolled in the identified low-performing school, or the feeder school(s) to the identified low-performing school. Signatures are required from parentsrepresenting 50% or more of the children enrolled in the school or the immediate feeder program.
Although all community members have a stake in public education, parents are in the unique position of havingthe most at stake with the least amount of influence. In keeping with the scope of the Parent Trigger tofundamentally shift the balance of power in the public school system back to parents, parents should not needpermission from any other interest groups or stakeholders in order to transform their children’s failing schools.As a logistical concern, it would be impossible to determine the accuracy of parent signatures necessary to meetthe 50% threshold when signers are outside of the public school enrollment of the identified school.
Allow parents at feeder schools to participate so that they do not have to send their child to a failing school andthen start organizing; parents from a feeder school will be empowered to organize alongside parents currently atthat school and trigger change through petitions representing 50% of the aggregate parents in the immediatefeeder program.
The number of enrolled students will serve as the denominator for meeting the 50% threshold of parents:
Signatures are required from parents representing 50% or more of the children enrolled in the school orimmediate feeder programs”
enforced by a one signature per child rule.
2) Parents will organize through a petition, not a vote. Similar to the Federal Employee Free Choice Act—a formal, public votegives power to management and takes it away from those trying to organize.