Here at New America, we’ve been closely following debates about family involvement in schools for some time (here and here, for instance). As rancorous as education debates can be, family involvement is one of those things that almost everyone agrees on. But it’s a tough thing to encourage by means of policy. We don’t generally have the stomach for—or interest in—involving policymakers in parenting.

California’s controversial, oft-maligned Parent Trigger law is one indirect attempt to increase family involvement by giving families more power. And recent developments suggest that the law is being used in ways that might ease some of the tensions it has historically provoked. As I put it in a Talking Points Memo column today:

Is there a way to encourage more and better family engagement by making parents a powerful force? In 2010, California passed a law giving parents the opportunity to organize and assert some control over the future of persistently low-performing schools. If they collect signatures from over 50 percent of parents with children at the school, they can force the district to take remedial action to change the school — by replacing the staff, bringing in a charter operator, or closing it entirely (among other options)…Recently, a group of parents at South Los Angeles’ West Athens Elementary School showed another way to use the law. 

Click here to read the full column!

[Cross-posted at Ed Central]

Conor Williams

Conor Williams is a Senior Researcher in the Early Education Initiative at the New America Foundation. Find him on Twitter: @ConorPWilliams