Parent trigger founder: school reform changed ‘we the people to we the parents’

As is routine with school choice proposals, the parent trigger bill in Florida – defeated in March after a dramatic 20-20 vote in the state Senate – was portrayed by critics as another front in a systematic campaign to privatize public schools. So it was fascinating today to hear more detail about the history and motivations behind the bill from Gloria Romero, the former California state senator – and Democrat – who sponsored the original trigger bill in that state.

“This is a law that’s so simple, it’s revolutionary,” Romero told participants at the American Federation for Children summit in Newark. “This law has the power to really shift paradigms, to give true power – not just lip service, no longer window dressing – to parents who are sick and tired of failing schools.”

“I wanted to have a law for parents based on the most basic foundations of our democracy,” she also said. “Think back. Petitioning our government. We the people. And if we could change that from we the people to we the parents, with the power of our signatures, our Johnny Hancocks, to collectively sign a petition, present it those of us who are supposed to be looking out for our interests, and basically saying, ‘If you won’t do it, then basically, get the hell out of the way and we will.’ ”

We’ve attached a recording of Romero’s remarks below. They followed a passionate speech about vouchers by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, which you can read about here and here and here. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is the keynote speaker tonight. Stay tuned and follow us on Twitter at @redefinEDonline.

Avatar photo

BY Ron Matus

Ron Matus is director for policy and public affairs at Step Up for Students and a former editor of redefinED. He joined Step Up in February 2012 after 20 years in journalism, including eight years as an education reporter with the Tampa Bay Times (formerly the St. Petersburg Times). Ron can be reached at or (727) 451-9830. Follow him on Twitter @RonMatus1 and on facebook at


Could it be any clearer that “reform” supporters have no interest in the founding principles of our nation, that they want to change the first three words of our Constitution’s Preamble from “we the people” to “we the parents” when it concerns educational policy?

Every member of the public, every single one of “we the people,” is a stakeholder in our public schools, not just parents.

Every member of the public has an interest in good, quality public education, and since we’re paying taxes toward that educational system, we all should have a say in the direction of our public schools.

And the way those things are handled in a democratic republic like ours is that we, the public, elect people to represent us on local school boards.

If parents who want different schools would like to bypass the local school boards elected by the public, who own and pay for the public’s schools, those parents should also be bypassing the taxpayer money that comes with them.

“Parent trigger” and “we the parents” are just nicer euphemisms for “taxation without representation.” I think I’ll stick with “we the people” and “public schools,” if it’s all the same to you.


Well said. Conceptually, there is nothing wrong with a system of public schools that is managed by locally elected boards and funded with taxes collected from property owners within the district. This type of system worked fine for a long time and is beautiful in its simplicity. Our nation’s Constitutional principles writ small, to echo James’s comments.

Many of the reforms promoted on this site seek to create a type of anarchy in the educational system rather than recognizing that the simplest system is usually the best and working to fix it. I am aware that many districts have failed and are failing their students, but the fact remains that neighborhood public schools will always exist. As such, there will always be a need to make them function properly and, when they do, most of the problems discussed on this site simply vanish. Abandoning this objective in favor of what amounts to an educational free-for-all will hurt the students that remain in the traditional public schools and will hurt many communities that are already struggling to remain livable.

Comments are closed.