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Senator David Holt to Introduce ‘Parent Trigger’ Legislation

Sen. David Holt Sen. David Holt

Senator David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, announced that he would file legislation for the 2013 session that will empower parents to force positive changes in chronically low-performing schools. This so-called “parent trigger” law is depicted in “Won’t Back Down” - a major motion picture opening this Friday, September 28th.

A parent trigger allows parents at chronically low-performing schools to gather signatures and demand positive changes. If 51 percent of parents whose children attend a chronically low-performing school sign a petition, the parents may demand that the district transform the school. Those changes could include new leadership or staff at the school, or a transition into a charter school, which would provide the flexibility the school needs to improve.

“As a rule, I think local control of education is best, and there’s nothing more localized than the parents at a neighborhood school,” Holt said. “The parent trigger model isn’t going to work in every situation, and it’s only an option where everything else has probably already failed. But I think there’s something inspiring about giving parents who care a tool they can use to fundamentally change the failed school that is attempting to educate their children.”

The concept of a parent trigger law is depicted in a new major motion picture – “Won’t Back Down” – to be released this Friday. The movie stars Maggie Gyllenhaal, Holly Hunter, Viola Davis, Ving Rhames and Rosie Perez. In the film, the characters played by Gyllenhaal and Davis fight to get the signatures necessary to improve the school their children attend. The movie is expected to be one of the most impactful considerations of modern education challenges since the 2010 documentary “Waiting for ‘Superman’”.

Like many recent education reforms that empower parents and students, parent trigger laws have enjoyed nationwide bipartisan support and have been adopted in some of the nation’s most conservative and liberal states, including Texas and California. Holt will spend the rest of the interim working with interested parties to draft a parent trigger bill that meets Oklahoma’s needs, and will file the bill prior to the 2013 legislative session.

“I think everyone in the education system - school board members, administrators and teachers - want the best for our kids. But sometimes, we get trapped in the status quo and need a way out,” Holt said. “A parent trigger law in Oklahoma would provide a way to break old patterns, and empower the people that are most invested in success – parents and students – to set a new tone for their school.”

Contact info
Sen. Holt: (405) 521-5636