Florida Senate barely kills parent trigger bill

03/09/12 Janelle Irwin
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A deadlocked vote in the state Senate this afternoon has killed the controversial parent trigger bill. Supporters of the bill tried to revive the pro-charter school legislation after an onslaught of opposition from teacher and parent groups.

Republican Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto told of woman who felt helpless for her child attending a failing school. Benacquisto, the bill’s sponsor, urged Senators to vote for what she named the Parent Empowerment in Education Act.

“What this bill does at its core is look at a system that already exists to address failing schools in our community and say that we acknowledge the legitimacy of a parents voice when it comes to choosing what is already destined to be chosen.”

But Senator Nan Rich, a Democrat who has fought against the bill from the start, said the only empowerment is to deliver a school to a private management company.

“This doesn’t mean there aren’t good charter schools out there doing good and important work. But this bill is not intended for them. This legislation is tailored for the big money corporations that see charters as a mechanism to convert billions in public funds into profits for a few.”

The bill failed on a 20-20 vote and the close call drew gasps from the Senate floor. Yesterday, Hillsborough Classroom Teacher’s Association president Jean Clements told WMNF she expected the bill to fail based on a massive grassroots effort among parent advocacy groups and teachers unions.

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