While it is still early in the session, observers believe the parent trigger has enough votes to pass the Republican-dominated House and Senate.
Scott could be the wildcard.
When asked about the bill Thursday, the governor played coy, saying he hadn’t yet had a chance to review it. “When I look at it, I can give you my thoughts,” he said.
Scott would not say what kind of counsel he had received from the education secretary, or whether he planned to veto the bill.
But Bennett, in his letter, criticized the legislation for shifting some responsibility from the local level to the State Board of Education.
“School boards should not have the ability to push the decision to the state,” Bennett wrote. “They owe it to the parents to consider what they have to say without being able to avoid the tough decisions.”
For all of the posturing, there are some who see the bill as a means to distract lawmakers and members of the public as other education policies are considered. They point to the fact that the charter school lobby has backed off of the trigger proposal, and is instead focusing on other priorities, such as winning additional funding for facilities and maintenance.
Additionally, a trigger mechanism already exists in Florida law. Unlike the current proposal, however, it requires a majority of teachers to also be on board. Parents at a public K-8 school on Key Biscayne tried to convert their school into a charter school earlier last week, but failed to win enough votes from teachers and parents.
Jeff Wright, who oversees public policy advocacy for the Florida Education Association, the state’s teachers union, said he believes the bill is about Bush’s legacy. As governor, Bush pushed through sweeping education reforms, including putting in place a school-grading program.
“This bill is priority of the Foundation for Florida’s Future,” Wright said of the trigger. “It’s just one more so-called reform that the folks from the foundation want to check off their Florida list.”
The foundation’s executive director, Patricia Levesque, disputed the claim.
“We support this bill because we believe it takes us to the next step of empowering parents,” she said.
Herald/Times staff writer Steve Bousquet contributed to this report. Kathleen McGrory can be reached at kmcgrory@MiamiHerald.com.