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Senate kills controversial ‘parent trigger’ measure on tie vote

by Dara Kam | March 9th, 2012

A split Senate shot down a controversial “parent trigger” bill on a 20-20 tie vote on the final day of the legislative session in a defeat for Senate GOP leaders, including Senate President Mike Haridopolos.

It’s at least the second high-profile measure backed by Haridopolos and his leadership team defeated by a coalition of Democrats and Republicans, who also banded together to stop a prison privatization measure earlier this session.

The Senate spent an hour debate the measure (SB 1718), sponsored by Republican Lizbeth Benacquisto of Fort Myers, and half an hour on questions before taking a vote. The vote was expected to be so close that Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, delayed it for moments until all 40 senators were in the chamber.

The plan, heavily lobbied by California-based “Parent Revolution” and former Gov. Jeb Bush’s education foundation, would have given parents the ability to determine whether low-performing schools should become charter schools or be taken over by for-profit management companies if more than 50 percent of parents whose children attend the schools sign petitions.

Critics said the process was riddled with problems and made parents at the failing schools vulnerable to manipulation by for-profit charter companies. A coalition of Florida parent-led groups including the PTA oppose the proposal.

“I’m tired and weary. I’m tired of sound bites and gimmicks that don’t do anything. Parent trigger. Parent revolution. Parent empowerment. Sound bites that mean nothing,” said Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, who called the proposal “fraught with risk.”

Three other states – California, Texas and Miss., – have instituted the “Parent Empowerment” process and 20 other states are considering similar legislation this summer.

But Venice Repubican Nancy Detert, a former Sarasota County school board member, said Florida has already enacted education reforms, many of them promoted by Bush, including a major overhaul just last year.

“We’ve been changing everything year after year after year. And we never give it time to gel,” Detert said. “Why do we want to keep throwing everybody in the bag and shaking it up…I feel so sorry for our teachers and students. They are on an island in a sea of chaos.”

But Benacquisto said the bill would empower parents who might feel helpless when their children are forced to go to school each day in a school with an “F” grade.

“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 legiimatecy of a parent’s voice when it comes to choosing what is already destined to be chosen,” she said.

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8 Responses to “Senate kills controversial ‘parent trigger’ measure on tie vote”

  1. RPOF = RIPOFF Says:


    Sadly, 20-20 is too close for comfort.

    That’s why we need a clean sweep of the state government.

    OUT with the failed fascist GOP.

    IN with the new Dems.

  2. Bob Says:

    Yes lets vote in more Fascist big government Dems to support taking away different rights of the citizens than the GOP. What a great idea. Trade one for the other.
    What a joke. I guess as long as they are not rights that Dems care about, then it doesn’t really matter how abusive and overbearing the Dems are.

  3. Fixit Says:

    Why doesn’t this article match what is printed on the front page? ‘Logic’, attributed to Gov. Scott, mandates that the GOP destroy public education. They’re powerless to address the real problems as that would require a ‘social’ conscience which too many lack. They’d rather buy a new car instead of fixing the one that got them around for so many years while it is still fixable. And it is!

  4. Ralphyboy Says:

    This and the Prison bill have the odor of Union involvment

  5. Jim Says:

    This is yet another attempt by Republicans to weaken the Public education system not only in Florida but throughout America. Republicans want defund and destruct the American education system so it can be turned into a privatize for profit education business, where only the privileged and well connected will be afforded a quality education.
    “Education in America began in the 1600s,education was geared more toward religious reasons.A diversity of people from various countries and different faiths led to the eventual weakening of this religious school system. Soon, people were refusing to learn solely in English. They opposed how the clergy was forcing their religious views into public education.
    Thomas Jefferson created a plan to make education available for each American citizen.By the Middle of the 18th century, private schools became the norm. Until 1840, receiving an education was only available for the wealthy.” (
    If republicans have their way, that will be the American Education system again. If they are successful there will be no future for millions of American children.

  6. An Opportunity Missed Says:

    If you don’t have parents involved in the decision making process, you will continue to have failing schools.

    Here an opportunity was wasted for MORE PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT.

    Blame democrats

  7. Freedoms Restricted Says:

    Democrats = let government make decisions about everything

    Don’t let Democrats take away your freedoms for government control.

    YOU know what is best for YOU, not the government!

    NO to Democrats in 2012!

  8. Failing System Says:

    It is unfortunate that our public school system is failing.

    We read about it all the time.

    Parents should not have to send their children to failing public schools.

    Other opportunities need to be open to them.

    Why keep supporting failing schools?

    Why keep children in failing schools?

    That’s what public school teachers want. They don’t want to take the chance of having to find other jobs.

    Don’t worry there will be plenty of teaching positions in a safe, forward thinking private, parochial, charter, virtual, or charter school.

    We need teachers, we just don’t need to keep supporting failure. And too many public schools are failures with too many behavior problems, too many bad teachers and lousy administrators.

    Can’t fix what is broken. We need new sources of educating our youth.

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