Privatization isn’t going fast enough for Indiana State Senator Dennis Kruse (R-Auburn). He wants to get help in privatizing Indiana’s public schools from parents, teachers and school boards. State Impact (NPR) reported…
The legislation he filed Tuesday empowers [parents, teachers, or local school boards] to petition to either close a struggling school, transfer its students to schools with higher test scores or reorganize it as a charter school.
What is a “parent trigger?” In What Really Happens When Parents Pull the “Parent Trigger?”, Will Dooling at PRWatch.org wrote,
Parent Trigger laws allow parents at any persistently failing school to gather a majority and either fire the principal, fire half of the teachers, or turn it into a private charter school. The laws — which have been proposed in dozens of states and become law in California, Texas, and Connecticut — have been embraced by some Democrats and groups that claim to support progressive values, despite claims by some that the laws have the impact of privatizing education.
Diane Ravitch has strong opinions regarding them. Writing in Bridging Differences in 2011, she wrote
To me, a public school is a public trust. It doesn’t belong to the students who are currently enrolled in it or their parents or to the teachers who currently teach in it. All of them are part of the school community, and that community needs to collaborate to make the school better for everyone. Together, they should be able to redesign or create or discontinue programs and services. But collaboration is not the same as ownership. The school belongs to the public, to the commonwealth. It belongs to everyone who ever attended it (and their parents) and to future generations. It is part of the public patrimony, not an asset that can be closed or privatized by its current constituents.
Should we privatize a public park because 51% of the people who sit in it want to? Should we privatize the public library because 51% of the patrons choose to? The fire department? The police department? The National Guard?
[My fear is that, to these and most other questions about privatizing public sector arenas, Senator Kruse and his privatizing friends would answer yes…because they believe that nothing the government does is as good as what the private sector can do (I don’t supposed they’ll want to mention the “burst” housing bubble or the bank bail-out).]
Public Schools Belong to Everyone – Not Just 51% of the Current Parents
The parent trigger bills don’t give parents more control. They give parents less control. They allow 51% of current school parents to give away the public school to a charter operator. What happens in two years if 51% of the parents want to take the school back for the public schools? Does Kruse’s bill allow for that? Don’t count on it. Once the schools have been converted they’re stuck with what they get. No parental rights. No public oversight.
What about other tax payers? Public Schools don’t belong to just those who attend. I’m still paying for the public schools in my district even though my children have graduated.
Does a school board have the right to give up their control of one (or more) of their schools to a private contractor? What happens if they want it back next year? What happens if they don’t like the way it’s being run? Can they change their minds? What if next year’s school board decides that it was a mistake?
Public schools are public entities. They should be run with public money, by publicly elected school boards. The public must be accountable…not some board of directors of a private corporation.
When are we going to start holding legislatures and politicians accountable? Instead of wasting time with useless, pro-corporate, ALEC inspired, parent trigger bills and the like, Senator Kruse ought to propose legislation which might actually help children attending the so-called failing schools. Why aren’t he and his fellow legislators being held accountable for state conditions which contribute to low achievement? Why aren’t they proposing bills to
- reduce the rate of low birth weight children among African Americans,
- reduce drug and alcohol abuse,
- reduce pollutants in our cites and move people away from toxic sites,
- provide universal and free medical care for all citizens,
- insure that no one suffers from food insecurity,
- reduce the rates of family violence in low-income households,
- improve mental health services among the poor,
- more equitably distribute low-income housing throughout communities,
- reduce both the mobility and absenteeism rates of children,
- provide high-quality preschools for all children, and
- provide summer programs for the poor to reduce summer losses in their academic achievement.
It’s time to pull the “voter trigger.”