California’s Parent Trigger Law Is (Finally) Helping Improve Public Schools

Lawmakers in California passed the Parent Trigger law back in 2010. The law allows parents of children attending failing public schools to force major changes if half of the parents sign a petition. Last year, parents of children attending Desert Trails Elementary School in Adelanto, Calif., pulled the parent trigger and transformed the school to a public charter school called Desert Trails Preparatory Academy. “We’ve seen major, major progress…since the beginning of the year,” says Debra Tarver, executive director of Desert Trails Preparatory Academy.  

In other California school districts, just the threat of Parent Trigger is helping parents get what they want.

Back in 2011, Reason TV covered the first ever attempt by parents, with the help of the non-profit organization Parent Revolution, to use the Parent Trigger. While the effort by parents at McKinley Elementary to use the Parent Trigger ultimately failed, parents at other California schools are figuring out how use the law to their advantage, and at least seven other states have adopted some form of the Parent Trigger.

“California’s Parent Trigger Law: Compton Parents Take on the Public School System,” produced by Paul Feine and Alex Manning. About 8:30 minutes.

Original release date was March 2, 2011. The original write-up is below.

Last year, parents of students in failing California public schools were given a reason to be hopeful when Sacramento politicians passed something called the "parent trigger" law. The way the law works is that if 51% of parents at a failing school sign a petition, they can turn the school into a charter school, replace the staff or simply use the petition as a bargaining chip to initiate a conversation about change.

On December 7, 2010, with help from the non-profit group Parent Revolution, parents of children attending McKinley Elementary in Compton became the first group of parents to pull the parent trigger. Their dream was to transform the school into a Celerity charter school. Instead, the Compton parents were thrust into a prolonged fight with supporters of the status quo: the Compton Unified School District, the teachers' unions, Gov. Jerry Brown and Tom Torlakson, the newly elected Superintendent of Public Instruction.

This is the story about a group of parents in Compton who are fighting to give their children a better education.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Virginian||

    I don't know if I dislike cops or public school teachers more. They're two of the more loathsome subspecies of homo parasitis

  • Virginian||

  • UnCivilServant||

    Greer said it's not the city's business to tell him what his home should look like, but the city disagrees.

    He's right, it's none of the city's business. The city can go fuck itself.

  • mr simple||

    The last time I told a proggie this she came back with, "Haven't you ever heard of the social contract?" She was genuinely confused, as if there were some real, tangible document we were all taught and made to uphold, not even just competing theories.

  • Virginian||

    "social" applied as a modifier is almost always total bullshit, and usually completely reverses the meaning of the word it is applied to.

  • C. Anacreon||

    you mean like social justice?

  • Libertarian||

    In other California school districts, just the threat of Parent Trigger is helping parents get what they want.

    Incentives. How do they work?

  • Acosmist||

  • BilboTeabaggins||

    Buying a house and looking at school demographics made me a much bigger racist than I used to be.

  • Spoonman.||

    Selling a house in an excellent, but significantly African-American, school district is very frustrating.


Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.