One of the newer iterations of parental empowerment policies sweeping the country are “parent-trigger” laws. Parent-trigger laws allow parents of students at a failing public school, by majority vote, to repurpose that campus’ administration with the aim of strengthening its academic quality. The idea is that rather than forcing parents to find alternatives to their local public school, they have an opportunity to make a positive change on that campus to better it for all students who attend it.
Here in Texas, we actually have such a law. That’s in and of itself is somewhat remarkable, given how few options there currently are for parents in the Texas education system to take an active role in their child’s education. Unfortunately, the law is weak. Parents must wait up to six years to “pull the trigger,” which seriously limits the effectiveness of the law. How realistic is it to assume that a parent would be inclined to stay galvanized to make changes at a failing high school once their child has passed through it? The wait is simply too long.
Tomorrow, the Texas House Public Education Committee will take up HB 2976, a bill that shortens the time after which parents can pull the trigger to two years. This would bring Texas more in step with the 6 other states that have such laws in place. It would also make this a tool that parents could use to meaningfully impact a school while their child was still attending it.
We don’t give parents a lot of options to parents. That’s an unfortunate reality and one that needs changing, but a reality nonetheless. Strengthening the Texas parent-trigger law is one step our lawmakers could take that would quickly and significantly empower Texas parents to make positive changes at their local school.