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Ohio Parents Could Soon Take Over Failing Schools

Ohio could soon become the second state in the country to adopt a law letting parents take over failing schools. Part of Governor John Kasich's proposed two-year budget includes what's called a "parent trigger." It would let parents of kids attending chronically under-performing schools circulate petitions and, if a majority of district parents sign off, the school would be forced to accept parent reforms, including replacing staff, changing curriculum or even becoming a charter school. Bruno Behrand directs the Chicago-based Center for School Reform; speaking on WOSU's All Sides with Ann Fisher, he said previous reforms have focused too much on school employees and not parents. "There's a great deal of payroll, a great deal of bloat, a great deal of spending. It's the parents' wishes, in terms of curriculum and quality of education for their children, that have been left lacking," Behrand says. Most Statehouse Republicans agree and have jumped behind the Governor's proposal. But it faces stiff opposition from Democrats, including House Minority Whip Debbie Phillips. "We want accountability and no one wants to make excuses for chronically-failing schools, but the majority of our public schools in Ohio are performing well and preparing students for a 20th-century economy," Phillips says. The "parent trigger" proposal is modeled after a new law in California. So far it's only been used once, in Compton.