Empower Parents to Turnaround Failing Schools

Strategy 2.3: Empower parents to trigger the turnaround of a failing school.

StudentsFirst will promote the rights of parents to organize and demand the transformation of chronically failing schools.

Community organizers in California have introduced a policy innovation that radically shifts power to the parents whose children are fated to attend chronically failing schools. If a majority of parents in a school attendance zone sign a petition, they gain the legal authority to transform their school. They can choose any of the four school turnaround options currently available in federal law — including bringing in a new school leader or putting the school under the management of a high-performing charter school operator.

This type of radical community empowerment must translate to improved outcomes for students. Any new solution will be held to the same high accountability standards of student achievement. If a school fails to produce the right results in terms of student performance, it will not survive.

StudentsFirst will promote the rights of parents to organize on behalf of good schools for their children through similar laws around the country. More than anyone else, parents understand the urgency and importance of fixing their local failing schools. By putting more power into parents' hands, children will be less likely to languish in failing schools while the bureaucracy weighs options and gets buy-in from affected adults.