'Parent Trigger' education policy may help boost schools performance

Parent Trigger education policy

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Parents may soon have the chance to catapult change in their child's low performing schools under a new policy that was approved by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) in June

It's called the 'parent trigger' policy: a policy that will allow parents of certain schools to take action into their own hands in securing a better education for their children.

"The notion is that we give the school district adequate time to turn the school around before we would try something else" said District 7 Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) Representative, Holly Boffy.

To be eligible, schools have to be low performing, receiving ratings of D or F for three consecutive years.

"The policy would require parents to come together and form a petition" said Boffy.  "With a majority of parents signing the petition, the school can be turned over to the [Recovery School District] RSD.

While eligibility for next year's 'parent trigger' policy won't be determined until performance reports are released in October, if in effect right now, 17 schools in Calcasieu Parish would be eligible.

Calcasieu Parish School Board member, Dale Bernard, who represents a district with two failing schools thinks the policy will help with an issue he's seen during his time serving on the board; the issue of parental involvement.

"If the parents were involved and got together and voted to go to this program, then it may encourage parents to become more involved" Bernard said.  "Come to PTA meetings and take more interest in their own children" Bernard added.

While Bernard identifies one of the main issues of a failing school as parental involvement, Boffy believes it's a systematic issue rather than an issue with teachers, parents or students.

"We need to be honest about the fact that not all of our students need the same things to excel" she said.  "We haven't created the environment to give them the opportunity to learn".

With the implementation of the parent trigger policy, she hopes that the gap in public education can come closer to closing.

Once performance reports are released in October from the 2011-2012 school year, parents may opt to begin the petition process with transfers to the RSD taking effect July 1 of the following year.  Boffy does caution that because transferring to the RSD might involve a complete shift of leadership and procedures, parents think carefully before starting or signing a parent trigger petition.