The Texas House Public Education Committee on Tuesday is planning to hear SB 14, a bill by Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) that would speed up the timeline for a parent petition triggering alternative management of a campus. In California the prototype for this bill has been the vehicle for well-funded efforts by outside interests to get parent signatures on petitions for charter takeover of neighborhood public schools. The California experience shows that the process can easily be hijacked by outsiders with a privatization agenda. That’s why education historian Diane Ravitch has dubbed the process “parent tricker.” Organizers for one such outside group funded by wealthy business backers, called Parent Revolution, have been active in Dallas and Houston of late.
Current Texas law allows a parent petition to request campus closure, “repurposing,” or alternative management when a campus that was previously reconstituted is still rated academically unacceptable for three years. If the parent petition and the school board propose differing options, the commissioner of education decides between them.
Under SB 14 as passed by the Senate, the parent petition would dictate the commissioner’s choice, and the petition could short-circuit the accountability process, triggering a charter takeover after three years of low ratings under the state accountability scheme.