Will Parent Trigger Laws Improve Schools?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

School photos, classroom, students (Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

In some states, parents frustrated with the public school system may have a new tool to fix their child’s education. Parent trigger laws, passed in some form in four states already, give dissatisfied parents the power to fire teachers, convert a public school to a charter, or even shut down the school altogether. As one can imagine, such a dramatic solution to the problem of public education has created quite a controversy. Parents and educators alike are asking: should parents have their fingers on the trigger of public education?

For the answer, we speak with Leonie Haimson, the executive director of Class Size Matters, a parent advocacy group in New York City that pushes for smaller class sizes in public schools. We also speak with Gwen Samuel, president of Connecticut Parent Union. 


Leonie Haimson and Gwen Samuel

Produced by:

Hsi-Chang Lin

Comments [4]

Ronda from Missouri

This has bad idea written all over it. Looks like the Right's attacks on public education continue to gain steam. I would love to hold parents accountable for success of schools and student achievement instead of the other way around. How can a child be successful when they lack sleep, proper nutrition, proper clothes and hygeine? And yet, teachers are held accountable. Furthermore, why should a child perform at school or for a teacher when at home there is nothing but a negative stream of commentary about said teacher and school from parents and/or media. What about parents who never sign a notebook, make sure homework is completed, check grades, etc? What happened to the generation who sent their children to school ready to learn and expected them to respect teachers and admin? Trust has been broken by some bad practices on both sides and this "Trigger" law is no way to solve it.

Mar. 22 2012 08:52 AM
Kat from Birmingham, Alabama

At first, it may sound like a great idea from a responsible concerned parent to have more control in schools. However, my mother, a special education teacher in a poor city school system in Alabama, deals with parents who are barely fit to take care of their children. She has been involved with this program at the same school for over 30 years. I can't imagine what would happen if these parents ended up having more control in her school. She loves what she does and she knows how to educate, but I'm not sure her blood pressure could handle even more parental involvement. Please keep in mind the reverse situation that could result from more parental control in poorer areas.

Mar. 20 2012 09:29 AM
Molly W from New York city

Parents have been completely squeezed out of public education in this country and they need to take back their role as chief advocates and guardians of their children. Trigger laws are not the answer. Guns -- real or symbolic -- are destructive. I hope my fellow-parents will raise their voices in protest and insist that we restore real education and learning to our public schools. Our children are being turned into test-taking drones and where there should be a partnership between parents and teachers there is suspicion. The only winners are people like Rupert Murdoch, who is developing a whole educational branch because he's an opportunist and he sees there's a fortune to be made off our our children. Our public education system is not about educating our children any more and that deserves more than this flimsy segment.

Mar. 20 2012 07:38 AM
Noah E Gotbaum from New York City

I am against parent trigger laws for specific schools but in favor of them for entire systems. Parents need to be able to decide who is leading our school systems; not dictated to by an unaccountable Mayor or board as in New York City. Parent triggers for specific schools no; parent triggers to replace failing superintendents and chancellors – absolutely!

Mar. 20 2012 07:35 AM

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