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VOL. 37 | NO. 4 | Friday, January 25, 2013
Proposed law change would give state final say
NASHVILLE (AP) — A Memphis state representative is proposing a change in the so-called parent trigger education law that would give the state final approval.
A statute updated in 2011 allows parents to force education reforms at their children's public schools, but it requires a 60 percent parent approval and local school boards must sign off on the efforts.
Democratic Rep. John Deberry told WPLN radio his bill is intended to start a conversation about making it easier for parents to force reform. He is proposing that a simple majority of parents' signatures on a petition should allow that a school be transformed into a charter or closed altogether.
If Deberry's initiative is adopted, parents whose petition has been turned down by a local school board could appeal that decision to state officials.
The bill was filed Wednesday.
"One thing we can't do is we can't continue to support the status quo," Deberry said.
The Tennessean reported that under Deberry's plan, a school would have to be in the bottom 20 percent statewide for parents to enact the trigger provision — a remedy Deberry also wants available if 51 percent of a school's teachers petition.
Deberry's bill would allow conversion to a charter school or the use of one of four models under the federal "Race to the Top" program. Those include a turnaround model, a restart model, a transformation model and school closure.
Parent trigger laws have been used only a few times around the country.
The trigger concept is pushed by a group called Student First. The organization donated more than $100,000 to Deberry's election campaign. Deberry said he didn't solicit the group's financial support and isn't beholden to it.
"They want to be close to a legislator who has the guts and the courage to say what has to be said and to accept whatever political fallout that comes to fight the battles that I believe in," he said.