Parent trigger bill goes down to defeat in Florida Senate

Parent trigger history repeated itself in Florida’s Senate today. After deadlocking last year on a plan to let parents vote to take over struggling public schools, the Senate was offered a milder approach this year that put the parent trigger finger in the hands of the elected School Board in each county. It didn’t matter. The bill again went down on a 20-20 vote.

Given that the Legislature is scheduled to adjourn on Friday and a parent trigger bill that passed earlier this month in the House contains more explicit language, the Senate vote likely signals an end to the fight for 2013.

The bill had been amended on Monday by a moderate Republican, David Simmons, to vest the final decisions about school turnaround strategies with school boards — and not with parents. Sponsors were hoping the change would clear the way for approval on the floor. But key Republicans still voted against it. Most telling was the opposition of Jack Latvala, who voted in favor of the more stringent parent trigger bill last year as he was in the midst of fighting for votes to be elected Senate president. To date, Latvala has failed in that quest.

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BY Jon East

Jon East is special projects director for Step Up For Students. Previously, he was a member of the editorial board and the Sunday commentary editor at the St. Petersburg Times, Florida’s largest daily newspaper, where he wrote about education issues for most of his 28 years at the paper. He was also a reporter and editor at the Evening Independent and Ocala Star-Banner. He earned a journalism degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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