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Florida Parent-Trigger Bill Fails in Senate: New Year, Same Vote

A Florida "parent trigger" bill to allow parents to petition for the overhaul of a struggling school has failed in the state Senate by a 20-20 vote, the Orlando Sentinel reported April 30. It's the second straight year such legislation has died on a tie vote in the state legislature's upper chamber.

The parent-trigger concept is popular among groups like the Foundation for Florida's Future, backed by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, but groups including the Florida PTA and the Florida Education Association vigorously opposed it. Five of the eight GOP senators who voted to kill a parent-trigger bill in Florida in 2012 left office at the end of last year, leading to what some saw as a friendlier political climate in the Senate for the parent trigger. But that turned out not to be the case.

I wrote yesterday about a new parent group that cropped up in Florida called Sunshine Parents (supported by Parent Revolution, which was involved in the first parent-trigger efforts in California) that was advocating for the trigger. Obviously, such lobbying efforts weren't enough when it came to counting votes.

Rita Solnet, the leader of Parents Across America's Florida affiliate (which also opposes parent trigger) was in a celebratory mood after the vote, noting that many believed that trigger legislation would pass this time. But the Foundation for Florida's Future said the vote meant that "politics wins over empowering parents," with the group's executive director Patricia Levesque adding, "The choice today was simple: Do you believe parents deserve a seat at the table or not?"

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