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Parent Trigger Regulations Approved by California State Board of Education: Let the Reform Begin!

The absence of regulations meant trouble for a recent Parent Trigger attempt in Compton.
The absence of regulations meant trouble for a recent Parent Trigger attempt in Compton.
PHOTO BY TED SOQUI

Huge victory today for the education-reform camp, and charter groups ready to flip public schools into places of learning, not administrator-heavy cesspools of FAIL:

At about 10:20 this morning, after not even an hour-and-a-half of deliberations, California Governor Jerry Brown's new State Board of Education unanimously approved a set of rules that will regulate the Parent Trigger -- a radical parent-empowerment law passed under former Governor Schwarzenegger.

The Trigger lets parents petition for their children's school to either undergo major staffing changes or be taken over entirely by an outside charter organization.

Parent Revolution, the group who tried to use the law on underperforming McKinley Elementary in Compton, was getting nervous:

The regulations had to be passed by this coming October, one year after the law went into effect, or politicians would have had to scratch hundreds of hours of work and start from a blank slate.

Revolution organizers were also nervous about the possible sway that paid California Teachers Association lobbyist Patricia Rucker might have on her fellow board members. (She was previously suspected of weaseling a clause into the working draft that would have allowed teachers to veto a parent takeover.)

In the months since Revolution tried turning around McKinley, a growing army of separate orgs and concerned parents have become involved.

Here are the final regulations, in PDF form. Though newspapers across the state (and country) have resoundingly supported their passage, the Los Angeles Times, historically skeptical of the Trigger, ran an editorial yesterday saying the regs still needed work:

"Parent Revolution made its own mistakes with a petition that contained technical errors and a signature-gathering effort that was carried out quietly, offering no public opportunity for all parents to discuss the choices available to them.

... There is still reason for concern that low-quality charter operators could gain control of schools by starting secret petition drives. To avoid abuses, the petition-gathering process -- which is, in reality, an election -- should be an open one, with all parents informed about what's happening at their children's schools."

Former State Senator Gloria Romero, who authored the Parent Trigger law, previously explained to the Weekly that the operation in Compton had to be carried out quietly, or district officials would have thwarted parents' efforts early on.

Stay tuned for our own analysis of the Trigger's final rules, and what they might mean for the future of K-12 education in California -- arguably our most pressing catastrophe.

[@simone_electra/swilson@laweekly.com]