Thursday, December 23, 2010

What is a "Parent Trigger"?

The following letter was published in THE STATE JOURNAL-REGISTER (, a Springfield, Ill. newspaper, early this morning (Dec 23, 2010, 12:03 AM). Should Illinois adopt a "parent trigger"?

First, it's important to know what a "parent trigger" is, so that you don't get arrested if you march into a Woodstock District 200 school and get accused of violating its zero-tolerance rule on weapons. This "trigger" is not part of a gun! Well, okay; not part of a metal or look-alike gun. But it could be a powerful weapon in the hands of parents! Read down into Mr. Holland's Letter to the Editor for his explanation of a "parent trigger".

"In expressing grave concern that an ad hoc, bipartisan House committee somehow might put a package of Illinois school reforms on a fast track to legislative approval, you argue that teachers ought to be heard as part of a “careful, deliberate consideration” of any proposal (“School reform shouldn’t be quick process,” Dec. 19).

"Given that you quote a teacher union flack as decrying the possibility of something being “slammed through” over the holidays, it appears you are supporting the union anti-reform strategy of delay and kill.

"Be that as it may, what’s most remarkable is that you don’t mention parents as having any right to be heard. Perhaps that is because parents don’t have a union. However, if Illinois should join other states in adopting an innovation called the Parent Trigger, parents at last will have real power to effect change in education.

"As rolled out first in California, the Trigger means that when more than half of a failing school’s parents sign a petition of no confidence in their school’s management, local school authorities are obliged to convert the facility to an independently managed charter school or otherwise make changes in staff leadership. Another possibility would be to offer parents scholarships to send their children to better schools.

"It is encouraging that lawmakers of both parties are jointly analyzing possible reforms such as linking teacher pay to performance. They would do well to add the Parent Trigger to their agenda — and, of course, to welcome parents as well as teachers to say what they think about such a bold move to change the dynamics of school accountability."

Robert Holland, Senior fellow for education policy
The Heartland Institute, Chicago


Gus said...

The issue of Parent Triggers is being looked at by the Education Reform Committee of the Illinois House of Representatives, which will be presenting reports in January.

Gus said...

Members of the Illinois House of Representatives' Committee on Education Reform are:

Chairperson Linda Chapa LaVia, Co-Chairperson Roger L. Eddy, and Members Keith Farnham, Jehan A. Gordon, Robert W. Pritchard, Darlene J. Senger, Ed Sullivan, Jr., and Karen A. Yarbrough.

If you know any of them, please contact them to support Parent Triggers.

Jim Lakely said...

Thanks for the plug for the Parent Trigger, Gus. I'm glad you're excited about it and shared it with your readers.

Heartland has a webpage that contains all our latest research and commentary on this issue. Be sure to visit in the new year, when the website will be redesigned to make it even more user-friendly.

Jim Lakely
Communications Director
The Heartland Institute
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