Feb. 6, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Austin: Art Imitates Life on School Reform

The Parent Trigger has been endorsed by a unanimous and bipartisan resolution of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, championed by L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. And one of its earliest supporters was the senior Democrat on the House Education and Workforce Committee, Rep. George Miller of California.

National Republican leaders also support Parent Trigger, including Govs. Jeb Bush of Florida and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, which illustrates the bipartisan appeal of Parent Trigger laws, not a right-wing conspiracy to take over America's public schools.

In this era of polarized politics, Parent Trigger laws have won bipartisan support because they are not only popular, but also appeal to common sense. A recent 2012 Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup poll of American attitudes on education found that 70 percent of likely voters across the nation surveyed said they favor Parent Trigger laws, including 76 percent of all public school parents.

To date, Parent Trigger has passed in four states and another dozen states are contemplating a version of the law. Parent Trigger isn't just a new law, it represents a new paradigm - an entirely new way of thinking about public education and education reform. It's not about charter schools versus district schools, or education reformers versus teachers unions. The Parent Trigger movement is simply about giving parents power over the educational destiny of their own children.

Parents across America have had it with excuses, finger pointing and conspiracy theories. Parents recognize that the only way we are going to turn around and transform the thousands of drop-out factories masquerading as schools across our nation is to take back power over the educational destiny of their own children.

Parents know we can't have great schools without great teachers and great principals. Parents want to work with teachers and teachers unions to ensure that teachers are highly paid and valued; that schools are adequately funded and operated; and most importantly, that the interests of kids lie at the heart of every single public policy decision affecting our public schools.

Ben Austin is executive director of Parent Revolution and a former member of the California State Board of Education.

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