State Rep. Mike Villarreal, Democrat of San Antonio, made a shockingly bad surprise amendment on Saturday afternoon to SB 738, a bill he’s sponsoring in the House that came over from the Senate in harmless form. In the guise of empowering parents, this bill as amended on second reading by Rep. Villarreal now would empower the state to hand over control of neighborhood public school to private operators. This last-minute surprise attack on local community control of schools needs to be stopped on third reading of SB 738 Monday. Please call Monday morning at 888-836-8368, ask for Rep. Villarreal, and tell him to pull down SB 738, this “parent trigger” bill. He may not be your representative, but his bad idea threatens community control of neighborhood schools in every major urban area of the state.
Though portrayed as a measure to deal with low-performing schools, Villarreal’s bill as amended would target even schools rated exemplary, if they happen to be in a district rated low-performing overall. This legislation invites abuses like those seen in California under a similar “parent trigger” law, where charter operators have run signature-gathering drives under the pretense of an “improve your neighborhood school” petition when in fact the fine print contains a call for total takeover of the school by a specific charter operator, with no further parent say in school operations.
With the Villarreal amendment attached, it would take only one more tweak to turn SB 738 into a “parent trigger” voucher bill like the one being pushed by the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in state after state across the nation. To see what we’re talking about, check out the model “Parent Trigger Act” on ALEC’s Web site at: http://bit.ly/jeEz0t.