Parent trigger language has new life in Florida House

May 2, 2013 

Two days after the Florida Senate killed the parent trigger bill, one of the proposal's more controverisal provisions won the approval of the Florida House.

The language, which would prevent children from being assigned to unsatisfactory teachers for two consecutive school years, was tacked onto the session's big charter school bill. It met resistance from House Democrats, who argued that the state's teacher evaluation model is too flawed to distinguish unsatisfactory teachers.

"We need to wait until we have an evaluation system that evaluates teachers properly," said Rep. Mark Danish, D-Tampa, who is a teacher. "We’re not supposed to be working out problems with the plane while in mid-flight."

But Rep. Michael Bileca, R-Miami, who carried the parent trigger bill last year, said the provision would pressure school districts to pair struggling students with top teachers.

"If you vote against this bill, you are voting against having our students who need [help] the most having the best teachers possible," Bileca said.

The House approved the amendement, and then the bill, in a pair of party-lines votes.

The charter school bill that will land on Gov. Rick Scott's desk will require the state Education Department to draft a standard charter school contract for all 67 school districts to use. The Legislature will consider the proposed contract next year.

The bill also requires charter schools to adhere to tougher financial standards, puts new restrictions on the length of employee contracts, and allow school districts to open "district innovation schools" that will function like charter schools.

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