Debriefing Parent Trigger’s Defeat in the Florida Senate

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May 4, 2013

Provided to Florida Public Employees

By: Bob Sikes – Scathing Purple Musings

Originally published: May 1, 2013

2013 Florida Senate Parent Trigger Defeat

Perhaps Senator Bill Montford said it best in this quote he gave Palm Beach Post reporter Dara Kam:

Sen. Bill Montford, a Tallahassee Democrat and former school superintendent, said parents already have the ability to make their voices heard.

“The issue is how do we get parents interested in the options already available to them. This bill will not help that,” Montford said. “I hope a year form now…we’ll spend this much time and energy trying to find a way to get our parents meaningfully involved.”

Indeed. Montford might get some republican senators to agree with him, too. This curious and divisive bill’s second straight defeat in Florida will hopefully bring  it’s popularity to an end and doom  the national expansion of Parent Revolution – a shady organization of political hacks whose existence depends solely on Parent Trigger legislation. This is Florida afterall and it’s been established as THE model of education reform. Jeb Bush has assured as much.

Ah, yes…… Jeb Bush. The Florida legislature only took up Parent Trigger again because Bush vowed it would return after last year’s defeat. After reaffirming his resolve on numerous occassions, it was clear he’d be looking for sponsors in the House and Senate.  But unlike last year, he wasn’t able to find co-sponsors.

Race-baiting returned from an unlikely candidate in T. Willard Fair in his defense of Parent Revolution’s production of a video featuring a faux parent group. Parent Revolution operative Shirley Ford was in the state to produce the film. She tried to embarrass African-American democrats during a hearing last year with similar assertions.

PTA bashing apparently became en vogue as House sponsor Carlos Trujillo said that PTA’s are only there to bake cookies. Similar wording appeared in Parent Revolution’s video. Former StudentsFirst operative Catherine Robinson chimed in with an opinion piece from her new seat with Step Up for Students.

PTA bashing? Really?

If you were against Parent Trigger and influential, you got attacked, mischaracterized and smeared.  Those folks learned to expect responses from places like this blog.

It became clear that some republican senators were concerned about the coercive aspects of Parent Trigger that took control away from local school boards , an indication that demonstrations like the Resolution On High Stakes Testing matter. Some senators may have paid attention to what happened in Adelanto, California. Orlando senator David Simmons inserted an amendment that supposedly took care of that. Sponsor Kelli Stargel’s assertion that Simmons’ was having second thoughts wasn’t credible as it stayed in the final bill.

It still wasn’t enough for 6 Republican senators.

So the story line being advanced by proponents  today is that Rick Scott killed the bill somehow.  If he did, he didn’t leave a margin for error. It’s more likely that there were more republicans who wanted to vote against it and they made sure there were enough no votes. Evidence the vote was known ahead of time comes in this Florida Chamber of Commerce FB  contact post from yesterday morning which included the names of five of the republicans who voted against the bill. Only Senator Miguel Diaz de la Portilla was not on the list.

Another republican vote was available last year in the event Alan Hayes didn’t commit himself to voting against it as retaliation against senate president Mike Haridopolis  for killing one of his bills. Another republican vote was probably available this year, too, in the event a very ill Dwight Bullard hadn’t been able to make the session.  Republican senators are glad Bullard was there as the name would have proved to be an embarrassment for Bush.

Yes, this is a defeat for Jeb Bush. And it is a win for Florida’s public schools and the school boards, administrators, teachers and families devoted to them. Parent Trigger and it’s proponents attempted to manipulate a few angry and imbittered parents to do the leg work for the  for-profit charter school industry who finance Parent Revolution and Bush’s foundations.

In the end, only 50 of 700 parents were part of the final Parent Trigger decision in Adelanto. To think that people like Bush, Stargel and Trujillo felt like this was right for Florida remains chilling.

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