Parent-trigger bill passes second Florida House committee

March 19, 2013 

TALLAHASSEE -- Nothing packs an education committee meeting quite like the so-called parent-trigger bill.

There was standing room only in Morris Hall on Tuesday when the House Education Appropriations Subcommittee met to discuss the proposal. The hot-button bill would enable parents to petition for dramatic changes at a failing public school, including having a charter-school company become the school's managers.

Rep. Carlos Trujillo, a Miami Republican and the bill's sponsor, faced tough questions from the Democrats on the subcommittee. Trujillo also faced a packed house of parents, educators and union representatives, nearly all of whom spoke out against the bill.

Their beef: the bill would enable private-education companies to take over traditional public schools.

"This legislation is not being called for from parents in Florida," said Jeff Wright, who oversees public policy advocacy for the Florida Education Association. "The fact is every credible parent group, including the Florida PTA, the NAACP and LULAC Florida, are opposed to this bill."

Three speakers stood in support: a parent; a representative from former Gov. Jeb Bush's education non-profit, the Foundation for Florida's Future; and a representatives from former D.C. Schools Chief Michelle Rhee's group, Students First.

After an hour of public testimony, the House Education Appropriations Subcommittee passed the bill on a party lines vote.

The House seems all but certain to pass the legislation. The true test will come in the Senate, where the bill died during a dramatic last-day-of-session showdown last year. The new Senate proposal, filed by Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, hasn't started moving.

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