Posts tagged "local history"
September 19, 2012
Across the country, the right of parents to decide who controls their schools is getting a closer look with the new movie “Won’t Back Down,” a Hollywood drama based on the true story of a struggling California school that parents tried to turn into a charter school using a “parent trigger” law.
In the last year, at least 20 states have considered some version of the “parent trigger,” a controversial policy that would give parents the power to vote in significant changes at their children’s school. Advocates of the policy say it empowers parents, but critics say that it allows private corporations to manipulate parents into handing over control of public schools.
Here in New York, a version of the law has been on the books for more than a decade.
Under the New York State Charter School Act of 1998, parents can begin converting their school into a charter school if a majority of them officially vote to approve the plan. But instead of empowering parents in failing schools, New York’s law has enabled politicians, education officials, and school administrators to pursue their own agendas, and its design contains some significant limitations.
How New York State’s existing “parent trigger” law stacks up
Compared to more aggressive versions of the parent trigger legislation that exist in other states, New York’s law doesn’t allow any teacher replacement. Plus, schools converted under New York’s law assume the district’s collective bargaining agreement, so teachers earn the same salaries and are entitled to the same pensions, health benefits, and job protections as they did before the conversion. But once the schools go charter, the district no longer picks up pension and benefits costs, leaving the schools with a heavy burden.
Also, in many of the proposed parent trigger laws, parents would be able to turn their schools into charter schools or otherwise overhaul them by replacing the leadership and making structural and programming changes. But New York parents get only the option to turn their school into a charter school. (more…)