Rep. Edward Lindsey says a bill he has introduced will make it easier to convert an existing school into a charter school is about getting parents involved in education.

Rep. Stacey Abrams, D-Atlanta, said Lindsey’s bill sounds like a good idea but “the devil is in the details.”

The two representatives spoke during a Jan. 11 Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education media symposium.

Lindsey’s “parent trigger bill” would allow a majority of parents or teachers to petition the school board to cease being a traditional school and become a charter school. Charter schools are schools with more independence from a local school system but the freedom comes with heightened expectations for students.

It’s typically considered as a remedy for failing schools. Lindsey’s bill takes it a step further. Parents in schools that are academically successful could still petition to become charters. Lindsey said in all cases, the school boards would make the final call on whether to approve the charter.

“That’s why you have the check and balance with the school board,” Lindsey said. “ … I find it interesting that some people are concerned that parents may actually spend more time talking to their school board about the quality of their children’s education. That’s inherently a good thing.”

Abrams said increasing engagement is a good idea, but said the petitions could also be abused.

“You don’t want it to become a tool that is used to bludgeon schools into behavior that perhaps may not represent the full sense of what’s best for those kids,” Abrams “ … There have been states where it’s been used fairly improperly.”

Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt wrote for Reporter Newspapers from 2011 - 2014. He is the founder and editor of Decaturish.com