California parents demand switch to charter

COMPTON, Calif. — California parents have become the first to use a so-called “parent trigger” law to force radical change at their children’s failing school, according to an Associated Press report published by the San Diego Union Tribune.

Sixty-two percent of the parents at McKinley Elementary School signed a petition demanding it be changed to a charter school, AP reported, exceeding the 51 percent required by law. Parents may choose the reform they want — conversion to a charter school, replacing the principal and staff, budget reform or even closure, AP reported.

The campus ranks in the bottom 10 percent of California's elementary schools, according to AP.

Parent leader Ismenia Guzman, whose daughter attends McKinley, told AP: "Us parents, we care. I don't want our kids struggling in poor schools."

California was the first state in the nation to adopt a parent-trigger law, according to AP. The report said that New Jersey and Michigan are considering parent-trigger laws, but did not elaborate.

Acting Superintendent Karen Frison told AP she would review the petition with the school board. The state teachers union said the action was misplaced because reform was already under way to boost reading and math, AP reported.

As parents plan meetings with charter school representatives, the union is gathering information for possible legal action, the report said.

San Diego Union Tribune, “CA parents use new law to demand school turnaround,” Dec. 7, 2010

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “A recipe for failing schools,” Aug. 27, 2009