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Topic Will Be Back on Agenda in July

After Much Discussion, SBE Posts Parent Trigger Regulations for 15-Day Comment Period

By Jeff Hudson - April 28, 2011

After a discussion that began early in the morning, and continued well into the afternoon, the State Board of Education did the expected thing last Thursday, and posted proposed regulations for implementing the Parent Trigger law for public comment.

Actually, several alternate versions of the regulations were discussed. The SBE looked at a staff-drafted proposal for the regulations, as well as a version drafted and submitted by a “working group” composed of representatives of the Association of California School Administrators, charter schools groups, and others.

Despite hints before last Thursday’s meeting that a stormy session might be in store, the tenor of many of the remarks before the SBE was relatively cordial. The various stakeholders – ranging from the California Teachers Association to the Parent Revolution group from Los Angeles – didn’t exactly hold hands and sing “Kumbaya” together. But most speakers indicated that by-and-large, the proposed regulations were something they could live with . . . though most speakers did ask for a tweak here, or a tweak there.

“I think it’s a pretty good draft,” said Gabe Rose of Parent Revolution. Another representative of the same organization said he was “pleasantly surprised by the progress of the working group.”
Colin Miller of the California Charter Schools Association said “we’re happy to see that the California Department of Education’s staff draft and our (“working group”) draft very closely align – you could say ours is a little clearer.”

Larry Carlin of the California Teachers Association, who often finds himself in opposition to Miller’s group, said there was still room for improvement in the proposed regs, but added “we fundamentally agree with what you’re doing.”

Ken Burt of the California Teachers Association grumbled a bit that his organization hadn’t been included in the “working group” discussions, but almost reluctantly allowed that “I actually think the CDE and SBE staff got this fundamentally right, and the reason they got this fundamentally right is that they followed the law.” (Under the prior SBE lineup of Schwarzenegger appointees, Burt frequently complained that the SBE was not following the law on Parent Trigger, as well as other issues.)

Public comment was also offered by a variety of parents and community members from Los Angeles, Compton, Lynnwood, and other Southern California communities, who had taken all-night bus rides to Sacramento in order to address the SBE. Several of these speakers described “intimidation” by school district administrators, and urged the SBE not to take any action that would water down the Parent Trigger law.

SBE staff promised to prepare a “cleaned-up” and more readable version of the proposed regulations (eliminating the numerous crossed-out sections that had accumulated as the proposed regs had undergone multiple revisions along the way).

After last Thursday’s SBE meeting, State Board of Education President Michael W. Kirst said “We made a great deal of progress today and anticipate concluding this process at our July 2011 board meeting. We look forward to receiving public comments on the extensive regulations we passed today.”

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, who let Chief Deputy Superintendent Richard Zeiger represent him at the SBE meeting last Thursday, said “The State Board of Education’s action today represents another step in the process of providing parents with a more clear and workable process to carry out the Parent Empowerment law. I’m pleased at the success we have had in quickly bringing together parents, teachers, administrators, and the charter school industry. While differences of opinion remain about a number of issues, I am hopeful that gathering additional public feedback will give members of the Board the best information possible before a final decision on regulations is made.”

For information on the Parent Empowerment proposed regulations, please visit the California Department of Education Website at http://www.cde.ca.gov/213219.

Click here to read last week’s EdBrief article with further information about the Parent Trigger issue.

Editor's Note:  Jeff Hudson is the editor of EdBrief and an award-winning education reporter and writer in print, radio and television media.