For some time parents have been the target of the new orporate “reformers” – promoting power to the parent as their rallying cry. The tool? They are called “Trigger Laws”–which enable schools to be take over by private charter companies if 51% of the parents vote to do so. They have hold of a legitimate idea–more on that later. But it’s worth noting that once they decide they decide “yes”, the parents lose all their new-found voting power, furthermore the law does not give them the right to vote to go back to being public. (Nor can other charter parents reverse the process with a 51% vote.) Along with vouchers–an outright proposal to pay parents a flat fee if they want to go to any private or religious school of their choice–Trigger Laws are the new “cutting edge” of reform.
What would real “parent power” look like? Many possibilities exist. e.g. Mission Hill (K-8 Boston public school) was organized from day one as a tri-partite community.. One third of its board is elected by the staff, one-third by families, and the final third by candidates selected by parents and teachers to represent the larger community. (Later we added students). Votes on critical matters require 3/5 of each constituent group. It provides an incentive to find common ground. Actually, I’m not sure tht in more than a dozen years now we have ever come to that point.
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