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National trends towards parent trigger laws, delayed school start times, accountability in higher ed

This weekly segment by Democrats for Education Reform CT looks at the top education stories Democrats are watching, providing bite-sized analysis and links to recent articles. On the roster this week: national trends towards parent trigger laws, delayed school start times, and accountability in higher education.

Parent Involvement in School Turnaround

This weekend, an opinion in the Wall Street Journal described how Los Angeles parents invoked a parent trigger law to bring the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools (an in-district non-profit that promotes strategies to improve student outcomes) into one of the district’s lowest-performing schools. The author of the WSJ article, former LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, remarks on the success of the initiative, observing that parent-empowerment was a particularly important aspect of the effort. Of all the stakeholders who care about students, he says, parents are the most committed to putting student needs above adult interests.

Here in Connecticut, the state considered a parent trigger law in 2010. Ultimately, School Governance Councils were enacted instead. These advisory groups, comprised of stakeholders including parents, can recommend improvement plans for low-performing schools.

Pushing Back School Start Times

California took the lead on a national trend this weekend, becoming the first state to push back school start times--the shift coming in response to studies that have linked the policy to better attendance, performance, and health in adolescents.

Last year in Connecticut, passionate debate led education officials to back down on the idea in West Hartford. Opponents of later school days point to burdens for working parents, who may not be able to adjust their schedules or afford child care to accommodate the new school hours. Another potential barrier is scheduling transportation and after-school activities. However, both Greenwich and Wilton have adopted later start times. And just last night, the Norwalk Board of Education also joined its Fairfield County peers when it voted to open district high school doors later in the day, starting in the 2020-21 school year.

Dems Take on Higher Ed

Yesterday, House Democrats unveiled a bill to address both affordability and accountability in higher education. The legislation would increase federal funding for low-income students; simplify loan repayment processes; incentivize states to provide tuition-free community college; and return to Obama-era protections for students from both sexual harassment/assault and predatory for-profit colleges.

Also in national news on higher ed, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) attempted to address the student loan forgiveness program that has become notorious for unfair treatment and rejection of applicants. But the Trump administration blocked the CFPB’s efforts, telling loan services companies not to share information.


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