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New Florida Law Could Allow Parents to Fire Teachers

Two pieces of legislation proposed in Lee County, Fla., might give parents the power to review and fire underperforming school staff, while teachers will have to grade how parents are doing too.

The Parent Empowerment Act, also known as House Bill 1191, would allow parents to analyze how the school staff, including teachers and administrators are doing, and create a reform plan which, with enough signatures, can remove teachers and administrators from their position and move their children into virtual classrooms if their teacher has a low rating. The bill would even give parents the power to turn the school over to a charter company, Wink News reported.

"The more we can do to empower parents and give them tools to enhance their children's education, the better outcomes we're going to get," said Rep. Michael Bileca, one of the co-sponsors of the bill.

Others, however, see it as intentionally favoring charter schools and getting in the way of effectively running an educational institution.

"This isn't about empowering parents," Legislative Chair for the Florida PTA Mindy Gould told The Miami Herald. "This is about handing over the neighborhood school to a private, for-profit corporation."

Under-performing schools will also have to enact some big changes in order to meet the new demands and turn their success rate around. Some of their options include replacing the principal and finding ways to generate resources for the school, or find a private management company or a charter school operator to take over operations.

The Parental Involvement and Accountability in the Public Schools Bill, on the other hand, places parents under review by requiring elementary school teachers to grade them based on communication, absentee and tardy rates, submission of emergency contact information and submission of medical records. The grades reportedly will be marked as "satisfactory," "needs improvement," or "unsatisfactory."

Both bills are causing controversy, with some accusing them of being counterproductive and simply getting in the way of parents and teachers.

"They are not the parent police to take care of what parents are doing, and parents shouldn't be able to shut down a school either with 51 percent signing a petition," Donna Mutzenard Island Coast Florida Education Association Executive Director Donna Mutzenard.

"It's just micro-managing public education once again. It's another layer of paperwork and accountability, but not an accountability that's going to help," she added.

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