Should parents who are unhappy with their local school have the power to replace the entire staff, turn it into a charter school, or shut it down completely – even if just 51% of the school’s families agree?
It’s an enticing, polarizing proposal – the so-called “parent trigger.” It’s also now a law in four states, and the subject of debate in scores of others. But is it a good idea? In the end, will parent-trigger laws help parents more effectively ensure a high-quality public education for their children, or will they result in a reckless short-circuiting of the democratic process itself?
The answer, of course, is “it depends,” and what it depends on is the way parents and communities go about evaluating the quality of their neighborhood schools – and, when necessary, deciding on the most constructive path forward.