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Newswire: January 31, 2012

Vol. 14, No. 5

TRIGGER HAPPY. Many advocates of the status quo in California wish they could close their eyes and the state’s innovative parent trigger law would simply disappear. Unfortunately for them, the trigger is spreading, not only to another elementary school, Desert Trails, in California, but it has in its sights Florida, Indiana and Arizona, as well. Desert Trails’ parents, like their counterparts in Compton, faced a school that failed for years to educate their children. One principal who left, said “protective teacher union contracts” tied his hands “from being able to hold personnel accountable.” He added that “no one wants to go against the teacher core…and be ostracized.” Parents garnered 70% of their fellow parents to insist on a trigger, well above the 51% required. Now, they are negotiating with the district. Definitely worth watching.

MEANWHILE, IN FLORIDA… legislative committees in both the House and Senate gave bipartisan support to a parent trigger bill. Many of the status quo, including the PTA, are threatened by parents revolting against these abysmal schools and vociferously oppose the movement. Yet, the parent trigger has won fans from both sides of the aisle, which Parent Revolution says is the “first major step in making parent trigger legislation a law.”

HEARD IT FROM A LITTLE BIRD… thanks Parent Revolution for today’s tweet that Arizona becomes the third state this year to introduce Parent Trigger legislation.

DIGITAL LEARNING DAY. Tomorrow marks the nationwide celebration of digital learning, which is sweeping the country from cyber schools to blended learning – all with the goal of giving families more choice and flexibility. Listen to what digital guru and CEO of OpenEd Solutions has to say about blended learning on CER’s Lunchtime Lessons. Then, join those from the 37 states participating in the digital celebration by tuning in to the National Town Hall with Education Secretary Arne Duncan and FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.

FALLOUT FROM SOTU. President Obama in his 2012 State of the Union Address called for extending the school age to 18. Clearly, he and his advisors have not thought through the implications of this policy – mainly that young adults who, for whatever reason, didn’t get much out of the traditional school system. Some pundits responded with the logical call to do more for these kids BEFORE they drop out of high school. Engage them in the earlier grades. And, we say, if the traditional public schools can’t meet their needs, support charter and choice options designed to nurture students who are challenged for various reasons and prepare them for school and beyond. School choice…now that’s a good use of the bully pulpit.

SUBURBS AND CHARTERS… this time in Fairfax County, Virginia, known for its top-flight public schools. Right? Well, kids from disadvantaged families continue to fall through the cracks in Fairfax and the Fairfax Leadership Academy charter school wants to do something about it. Eric Welch, executive director of the Academy, told CER that our suburbs aren’t what they used to be in terms of wealth and well-being and the need for educational options that work for students from economically struggling families is dire. Virginia also would serve all children and families well by facing up to this demographic change and strengthen its charter school law. For more insights into the struggle for suburban charters see Tom Neumark, president of Frederick Classic Charter School, on CER’s National School Choice Week webinar.