Even before the California Senate approved a reform bill that would give parents greater control over their children’s’ education, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said he would sign the package into law “as soon as it hits my desk.” On January 7, he approved a provision known as the “parent trigger” (learn about the momentum behind this provision: LA-based Parent Revolution).
The parent trigger puts educational power into the hands of families. The law applies to schools in the third year or more of federal “program improvement” status, and makes the state eligible for as much as $700 million in federal funding under President Obama’s Race to the Top education initiative. If a majority of parents at an eligible school sign a petition, the district is required to make reforms.
Ellen Winn, Director of the Education Equity Project sums up the dire need for such reform:
“The grim reality is that the achievement gap in California is profound. In 2006, 42% of CA’s students scored proficient in English Language Arts, with startling sub-group break-downs: 27.4% proficient – Hispanic, 29% proficient – African American, 60.3% proficient – white, 64.3% proficient – Asian. The Education Trust West’s most recent analysis of the achievement gap in California found: “The racial and socioeconomic achievement gap exists across all subjects and remains largely unchanged over the past 7 years. For the huge numbers of low-income and minority students assigned to consistently failing schools, triggering any of these reforms will be the first possible step towards ensuring they receive a better education and all the increased opportunities we know accompany it.”