A California law enacted last year the "parent trigger" is a landmark education reform for parents of students trapped in failing schools. It is facing potentially fatal changes by the state Board of Education and the Legislature. Neither should meddle with one of the few innovative laws that empowers parents and holds public schools accountable.


The law gives parents the power to demand radical reforms of schools if they are failing. It basically states that, if a majority of parents petition for a school to be reformed, the district must take action. For instance, one action parents can petition for is converting a regular public school into a charter school, which has more operational flexibility.


Now, that law is being challenged and parents are speaking out in its defense. During a Board of Education meeting April 21 in the state Capitol, the board listened to parents from across the state, many from Compton and Lynwood who took buses overnight to testify in support of the parent trigger.


One purpose of the meeting was to propose rules for the law's implementation. But it quickly became apparent that some of the proposals would undermine the law itself. For instance, a set of rules discussed by the Board of Education would require that not only parents, but also a majority of teachers, sign a petition for any kind of reform at a school be it charter, school closure or other transformation to take effect. This would essentially give teachers and their unions veto authority over any reforms supported by parents, essentially eviscerating the intent of the law. These proposed rules protect bad schools and take power away from parents and give it back to the unions.


If battling the union and the education bureaucrats were not daunting enough, Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, D-Santa Monica, one of the chief opponents of the parent-trigger law when it was proposed last year, has introduced Assembly Bill 203 with the purported intent to "clarify" the law. However, proponents of the parent trigger, particularly those who visited the Capitol last week, view her efforts as a "poison pill" to undermine the reform, according to Linda Serrato, a spokesperson for Parent Revolution, an advocacy group that supports the parent-trigger law.


The law is the parent trigger, not the union trigger.