| October 2, 2012

‘Choice is what makes our country great’

The new motion picture “Won’t Back Down” has spurred a healthy and much-needed conversation about education reform in this country. One of the film’s producers, Chip Flaherty, recently sat down to discuss the film with former Oklahoma congressman Ernest Istook, now a Heritage Foundation distinguished fellow who hosts a national talk-radio program.

State Superintendent Janet Barresi has also weighed in on the subject. “Because of the very real plight of parents and children in situations similar to those portrayed in the movie, I pledged my support this week to state Sen. David Holt who promised to file ‘parent trigger’ legislation for the 2013 legislative session,” she wrote in her latest column.

A parent trigger means that if 51 percent of parents whose children attend a chronically low-performing school sign a petition, they can demand that the district transform the school. Those changes could include new leadership or staff at the school, or a transition into a charter school, which would provide the flexibility the school needs to improve. …

As educators we shouldn’t be afraid of such choices. Choice is what makes our country great. Competition spurs us all on to do our very best work. As educators, we have the ability to change children’s lives, but ultimately the decision on where and how a child is educated should rest with the parent.

She’s right. A “parent trigger” law is a good idea, and last week I offered some suggestions for making it as robust as possible.

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