Anthony Williams, Pennsylvania State Senator
What is a Parent Trigger law? The first one was passed in California. It said that if over 50% of a particular school's parents decide that the school is failing, they should have the power to force a major remedy, like replacing the principal and 50% of the teachers, replacing all the adults by bringing in a high-performing charter operator to run the school, or simply close the failing school so kids can be re-enrolled at better nearby neighborhood schools. The selection of the remedy would not be up to education bureaucrats, who might just want to protect their friends' jobs -- it would be up to a simple majority of parents, provided that a majority actually do agree on what should be done.
Pennsylvania State Senator Tony Williams wants his state to have a parent trigger law too.
Pennsylvania has interesting politics. Despite voting for Barack Obama over Mitt Romney by five points, 52% to 47%, nevertheless has a state government controlled by Republicans. That means the state House, the state Senate and Governor's office are all in GOP hands. Senator Williams, a Democrat, says he expects a new Parent Trigger bill isn't likely to have problems in the Senate, or winning the signature of Governor Tom Corbett. The challenge, he says, will be the Republican-controlled State House.
"The question will be whether the House of Representatives, led by Republican leadership, will decide that the issues that supposedly they talked about publicly, that they will support once they get to the table and negotiate terms that will allow for Parent Trigger and a variety of other reform measures to go forward."
The next session of the Pennsylvania legislature begins the first week of January, 2013.