Parents Know Best?

With so many different types of moms and dads, from absentee to helicopter, teachers often have to deal with a wide range of parental participation. Even though most teacher and parent groups coexist peacefully, there are many districts across the country where parents feel that their children’s school is woefully inadequate. With this in mind, some states have enacted “parent trigger” laws, allowing parents in certain districts to band together and remove teachers or administrators from schools they deem to be underperforming.

Image courtesy of Monica Almeida/The New York Times

These laws have created a huge controversy surrounding who has the power to hire and fire teachers. Although no parent groups have succeeded yet in taking over a school, it seems to be only a matter of time before it happens. All that is needed is a petition signed by a simple majority (51%) of parents in a given school, which would then give them power to force the district to get rid of teachers and administration.

Teacher unions have fought aggressively against this change, going so far as to tell some immigrant parents in Los Angeles that they would be deported if they supported the petition. Teachers are understandably upset over the idea of parent groups deciding on their quality and effectiveness as educators. However, for poor parents in poor school districts, this law offers a sense of control over their children’s futures that they may feel is being squandered by inefficient bureaucracies and special interest groups.

California, Connecticut, Mississippi and Texas have all passed forms of the “parent trigger” law, with Florida currently undergoing legislative debate on their own version.

To read more about “parent trigger” laws and the many opinions swirling around them, visit these Time Magazine or The New York Times articles. Let us know your thoughts on the subject in the comment section below.

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