In 2012, Ohio legislators amended state law to include a provision to implement a “Pilot program for Columbus City School District” in Senate Bill 316.  Under this provision, parents can “take over” a school’s operation.  This is also known nationally as a “parent trigger” provision and Ohio’s version is detailed in Ohio Revised Code 3302.042.

A second line of the statute reads “The pilot project shall commence once the department of education establishes implementation guidelines for the pilot project in consultation with the Columbus city school district.”

This week, John Kasich’s Ohio Department of Education apparently plunged forward and established their own guidelines for this parent trigger law, overstepping their authority and unilaterally appointing StudentsFirst as a “neutral third party” to “facilitate the process of obtaining signatures and requesting a type of reform as prescribed in statute”.

That’s funny, I didn’t see where the law gave the power to the Ohio Department of Education to self-select some sort of intermediary to “facilitate the process”…

Strike 1.

Said ODE spokesperson, John Charlton, “There’s now a process in place. It would take effort on the part of the parents of these schools to make it work. But it’s something that was legislated, and we’re going to carry it out and make sure that by doing that, we’re providing the best possible education for the boys and girls in Columbus.”

Really?  There’s now a process in place that was esablished “in consultation with the Columbus city school district”?  Then why was the district apparently so caught off guard by this “neutral-party” organization? Again, the law makes no mention of the involvement of a third party.

Strike 2.

Now about that “neutral-party” thing…

Pages from 107085949-Studentsfirst-Policy-Parent-Trigger

Empowering Parents with Choice:
The Parent Trigger

Parents of students in failing schools often feel powerless to give their children a better education. [Neutral Party] believes strongly in the need for policies that empower parents to improve the educational opportunities available to their children.

The parent trigger is a revolutionary idea…

In order to ensure a high-quality education for all students, it is critical that parents are empowered with tools to demand change for their children’s education. Because parents naturally put the interests of their children above the interests of the system, the more power parents can exercise over their children’s education, the more likely we will be to build a student-centered education system. In order to ensure a high-quality education for every child, especially those trapped in failing schools, parents must be empowered to help improve their children’s schools – this happens through the parent trigger policy. Parents want the best for their children, and the parent trigger equips them with the ability to demand it. Parent trigger is another way to hold schools accountable and to work toward the essential goal of a great school and education for every student. This type of radical community empowerment must translate to improved outcomes for students. Like many solutions, the conversions and changes resulting from the parent trigger must be held to the same high accountability standards of student achievement. If a school fails to produce the right results in terms of student performance, it should not continue to be entrusted with educating kids.

The parent trigger is a transformational policy…

As more states consider parent trigger legislation, it is essential to ensure that parents truly have the power to force a change in a school. Recent press reports mention cases where parent trigger legislation has been watered down, preventing parents from actually having the power to petition for change on their own. In order for the parent trigger to create the intended impact, parents must have power to act and force a change without having to wait around for bureaucracies and special interests to come around to the idea. Without this, parents will be left with fewer options for their children’s education and their children could continue being stuck in failing schools. All students deserve the best education and the parent trigger provides parents with the opportunity to make that happen.

StudentsFirst believes that, if modeled correctly, the parent trigger can provide parents with a new tool to influence and demand change in the type of education their children receive and deserve.

Strike 3.  You’re out, Kasich.