by Félix Pérez
The Florida Senate voted today to reject — for the second year in a row — a so-called “parent trigger” bill that educators and parents maintain is a back-door attempt by for-profit charter school chains to corporatize neighborhood schools.
The divisive bill, championed by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and corporate education reformer Michelle Rhee, went down on a 20-20 tie vote. Six Republicans voted against the bill.
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“The second time is just as sweet,” said elementary school teacher and Florida Education Association President Andy Ford.
“The parent trigger measure is a political device created by venture capitalists looking to rapidly expand for-profit charter school chains. Major parent groups in Florida opposed this bill.”
Public schools are our schools. They don’t belong to the school board, the Legislature, the governor or the State Board of Education, and they certainly don’t belong to a privately owned, for-profit charter-school company. They belong to all of us in Florida because they’ve been bought, paid for and maintained with our hard-earned tax dollars.
Fund Education Now, a nonpartisan Florida-based education advocacy organization, was one of many parents groups that joined the effort to stop the bill. “The sole intent of Parent Trigger is to use us to pull the trigger and hand over our neighborhood schools to for-profit charter developers,” said the group in a statement.
“Not one Florida parent group supports Parent Trigger. We stand committed to each other and to our children. Together we rejected the Parent Trigger lie that uses our love for our children to pull the trigger and then strips us of our voice.”
Said Ford, “Instead of chasing gimmicks like parent trigger, we should be making the investment to ensure that every neighborhood public school is as great as it can be.”
Florida joins Colorado, Georgia and Oklahoma as states that have turned back parent trigger bills in the last two months.