Bill Allowing Parents to Fire Faculty in Failing Schools Draws Debate

Parents, you may have wanted to change your child's teacher and that might have taken a trip to the office.

But now the proposed Parent Empowerment Act may give you more authority, than you ever imagined.

Mark Twain Elementary is one of several schools where the parent empowerment act would give their parents more power than ever before. A school failing three years in a row, would give parents the right to start a charter school there the power to fire the administration.

The Parent Empowerment Act is a bill right now. But it is something that could make parents active participants in the future of their schools.

If 51-percent of parents signed a petition, the parents could determine if a school should replace administrators or if it should become a charter school. Lawmakers supporting the bill say it would not be a takeover, but a collaboration.

"We often think things are adversarial, but how can it be adversarial when you can get parents to think outside the box and buy in to be a part of an effort to redevelop and change schools and you need parents to do that," said Jabar Shumate, State Senator who co-authored the bill.

Some school administrators, including Dr. Keith Ballard, say the idea is insulting. "I have been out this week visiting schools and I have seen nothing but really hard working teachers and now the legislature comes in and says we don't think these teachers are working hard enough. We don't think these principals are working hard enough so we will just give the parents for whatever reason, the opportunity to step up and turn the school into a charter or fire the administration," he explained.

Tulsa Public Schools say they are working hard to keep effective teachers in the classroom, 300 have left, as a result of teacher evaluations in the past few years.

The bill has passed the senate and is headed to the house for consideration.