California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed education reform legislation on Jan. 7 that will give unprecedented power to parents whose children attend the worst-performing public schools. Under a provision known as the "parent trigger," if 50 percent of parents at a given school sign a petition, the school board must choose among several options, including closing the campus, converting to a charter, or replacing the principal and other administrators. Advocates of the controversial measure hope that it will make the state more competitive for Race to the Top money, in addition to improving education; opponents, such as the California Teachers Association, are concerned that the approach is too punitive.
Is the parent trigger a good idea? Did California make the right choice by adopting it, or should the state rely on other school improvement strategies?