The question of ownership arises because the “parent trigger” idea enables 51% of parents to “seize control” of their public school and turn it over to a private corporation to manage.
But do the parents “own” the school? Is it theirs to give away?
My view is that it belongs to the public. The public created it. The public paid for it. It belongs to the public. It belongs to those who attended it in the past and to those who will attend it in the future. Next year’s parents and students have the same interest as this year’s. And so do those who will be parents and students in the school five years from now.
If the school is unsatisfactory, if the principal is incompetent, take your concerns to the superintendent and the school board. If most parents speak up, they will not be ignored (unless you happen to live in a city with mayoral control, like New York City or Chicago, where the mayor doesn’t care about parent opinion).
This reader has similar concerns.
What exactly does “taking back a school” mean? Are you suggesting that we allow a group of people (whether it’s 51% of parents or some other group) to take over a public school and “give” it to a private corporation or organization? If so, then I disagree completely.
On the other hand, if you mean, changing the publicly elected school board then I would agree completely. If you mean working with the teachers and parents to improve the educational program, then I agree. If you mean changing the legislature, governor, or other elected officials who are killing public education then I agree — completely.
As Diane has said many times, public schools belong to the public, not 51% of the current parents. You can prove that for yourself by going to a high school basketball or football game. The “alumni” are often there in great numbers. Public schools belong to the community. They are centers for community pride and memories. They are (and should be) a stable influence in a community.
If 51% of parents decide that a school is no longer meeting the needs of their children and give it away to a private company, what happens next year if 51% of the parents decide that they want to convert it back to a traditional public school? The parent trigger laws do not allow that. Once the public school is gone…it’s gone.
I’m a retired teacher…and I would LOVE to “take back” public schools from the “reformers.” That’s why I write to my legislators. That’s why I belong to a community group which works for public education (email@example.com). That’s why I blog. That’s why I try to inform as many people as I can about what’s happening to public education.