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Missing the Target? The Parent Trigger as a Strategy for Parental Engagement and School Reform

The “parent trigger” has been promoted as a mechanism to increase parents’ empowerment over their local schools and over their children’s education. While superficially appealing to democratic processes by “letting parents decide,” as evidenced in the recently released movie Won't Back Down, the emphasis of parent trigger advocates is on mounting a campaign to authorize the transfer of authority over schools from public to private governance. Accordingly, because it outsources school governance to Educational Management Organizations who have no obligation to (and often no physical presence in) the community, the parent trigger ultimately thwarts continued, sustained community and parental involvement.