SB 1263 by Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) and Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Houston) is advertised as a “parent trigger” bill to help parents turn around their child’s low-performing school. But the bill really follows the blueprint of “parent tricker” legislation being pushed nationwide by extreme groups and private interests that stand to gain from converting neighborhood schools into charter schools. The bill may come up for a vote on the Senate floor any time after 2 pm on Monday, April 15.
I urge you to oppose SB 1263, a so-called “parent trigger” bill portrayed as parental empowerment but really designed to pave the way for private charter operators or private “alternative managers” to take over neighborhood schools.
Experience with the “parent trigger” prototype law in California bears this out. Parents there were asked to sign a “petition to improve your school” without clearly understanding that the petition actually called for handing over control of the school to a specific charter operator. The beginning and end of parental empowerment under this “parent trigger” concept is the parent’s signature on a petition for charter takeover. After that, the charter entity gains total control of the school.
It should be understood clearly that the point of the “parent trigger” model is exactly this type of charter conversion of neighborhood schools. Under SB 1263, private operators with no connection to the community will have an incentive to finance signature-gathering on a petition to bring in their outside charter-management team to take over the neighborhood school. Lowering the threshold for use of the “parent trigger” to three consecutive years of low campus ratings, as in SB 1263, would only encourage this process. A few cosmetic changes to this bill made in committee do not change its fundamentals.
Once in the hands of a charter operator, the children attending the school no longer have the benefit of important state quality safeguards, including class-size limits, teacher certification standards, and fair standards both for students facing discipline and for students in need of protection from bullying and other dangerous and disruptive behavior. Ironically, with the “parent trigger” model, parental rights under the Texas Education Code would also go by the wayside once a neighborhood school is converted to a charter operation.
In contrast to this phony version of parental empowerment, there is an authentic version already in the Texas Education Code—and it works. Under Section 12.052, a majority of parents and a majority of teachers at a campus, acting together, are empowered to petition their school board for an in-district charter campus, without having to forgo any of the educational quality standards and safeguards in the Education Code. This model has worked well in San Antonio ISD and Austin ISD.
Please support real parental empowerment that comes up from below, not a top-down “parent trigger” model propagated by the same private interests and out-of-state organizations that are trying every way they can to privatize Texas public schools. Say no to their power grab! Texas can do better than SB 1263!