The Parent Empowerment bill, better known as the parent trigger bill, was voted down on the last day of the 2012 legislative session. Today, it was approved by a party line vote in the House Education Appropriations Subcommittee, bringing it back to the table in 2013.
St. Lucie Democrat Larry Lee Jr. noted the obvious lack of support from the public.
"If this bill was so popular, it would appear to me there would be more people speaking up," he said.
Orlando area Democrat Karen Castor Dental, a former schoolteacher, said it's more of a "parent exploitation" bill than one that empowers parents. She said the legislation, sponsored by Miami Republican Carlos Trujillo, doesn't address the root causes of how a school is labeled as failing.
Trujillo said he resents that the issue has become a battle about capitalism.
"This bill has nothing to do with public versus charter," he said, repeating the sentiments of other Republicans on the committee.
Hillsborough County area Rep. Jake Raburn concurred, stressing, "This is not about privatization. This is not about charter schools."
He averred that it's all about giving parents more power to ensure that their child can get a quality public school education in Florida, and that in recent years, such a law has passed in other states, with more like Florida debating it this year.
But too many parents, teachers and other officials with the public school establishment said the legislation is a dagger aimed at failing public schools, and in favor of for-profit corporations. A ranking member of the committee, Dwayne L. Taylor (D-Volusia), said he would rather rely on experts like the PTA, the school districts, and school teachers, who all oppose the bill.
"You want to give this school to parents to give it to corporations? Their whole motivation is how much money are they going to make," he said. "We should all be working together. We should give them the resources."
The current betting line is that the bill will make it through the legislature this year. But it's no sure thing as last year the bill passed in the House, but tied 20-20 in the Senate. Two of those no votes, Lakeland's Paula Dockery and New Port Richey's Mike Fasano, are no longer serving in that body.