Michigan bill harms education

Lee McClelland

I remember my public education experience as if it was between two to 13 years ago. While it wasn’t what I would describe as the most enriching education, it hasn’t failed me yet. Then again, my school system wasn’t terrible, just flawed. Other schools across the country have proven they offer a poor quality of education, so what do we do about it?

Michigan’s Senate Bill 620 is waiting in limbo to be passed. It would take the lead from California and allow parents to “pull the trigger” on failing schools. Yes, I speak of the “Parent Trigger Law” that has been getting so much attention as of late.

This law was first brought about in California by Parent Revolution, a non-profit organization whose mission statement is, “To transform public education based on what is good for children, not adults, by empowering parents to transform their under-performing schools through community organization.” It has gained popularity across the country and has been passed in California, Texas, Mississippi and Connecticut.

This law would enable parents to vote to decide the future of a failing school. With a 51-percent parent vote and a 60-percent teacher vote, or just a 60-percent parent vote, decisions can be made to close a school, including the transition from a public school to a charter school.

I find fault with Parent Revolution’s statement because it contradicts itself. How does a parent know what is good for the collective whole, rather than just his or her child? Teachers and administrators are qualified to do this, and parents still have the ability to offer input. But we have to take into account other factors that affect education.

Laws sure do. The No Child Left Behind Act has created a faulty system of education and it inhibits teachers to give the highest quality of education. Class size, funding and enrollment all affect quality. It’s not just one thing or the other.

In Michigan, Senate Bill 620 would benefit privatized charter schools. It’s not for the benefit of parents in Michigan, but for private schools who stand to make a profit.

The biggest criticism of the Parent Trigger Law is this: it doesn’t work. In California, it has yet to yield any results. Instead of helping, it has been hurting communities and causing turmoil in the school system. By creating a chaotic environment that places stress on teachers, parents and students alike, there are only detrimental effects from these disagreements.

Children learn in different fashions. What is good for your child may not be good for another parent’s child.

We need to come to an agreement that benefits the children being taught, not the adults involved on either side of the debate. I have yet to see a child-centered approach to this argument.

This law will be a gut shot to our educational system, with a little more than half of parents behind the trigger, while the rest of us mourn the passage of a good education for the future of our country, for our country’s children.