Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Parent Trigger in Adelanto, CA

How did the Parent Trigger law originate?  The Parent Trigger was first conceived by a LA-based organization called the Parent Revolution, founded by a charter school operator and funded by the Broad, Walton and Gates Foundations.  The legislation was introduced in California by then-State Senator Gloria Romero, who now heads the California branch of the pro-privatization organization, Democrats for Education Reform. ------ NYC Parents Blog (FAQ re the movie “Won’t Back Down” and the Parent Trigger)
With the publicity surrounding "Won't Back Down" parent trigger laws are in the news. This story from Adelanto Ca will prove to be a hot one. As Leonie points out above, these are not grassroots movements as depicted in the film, which turns it into science fiction. While I pointed out in my recent post that I at times have mixed feelings about local bureaucracies (Supporters of Parent Trigger Film "Won't Back Down" Come Under Attack), I found myself rooting for the Adelanto school board in this one.

UPDATE: Aug. 22, 10PM from Ravitch:

President of the Adelanto School Board Challenges “Parent Revolution”

A few facts about this one, again from Leonie:
operatives trained and paid by the Parent Revolution urged parents at the Desert Trails School in Adelanto CA to sign two different petitions: one calling for smaller classes and other positive reforms, the other demanding that the school be turned over to a charter operator.  After the organizers submitted only the charter petition to the authorities, nearly 100 parents asked to withdraw their signatures.  Yet a judge has ruled that parents could not rescind their signatures and the conversion to a charter school should go forward. Even Gloria Romero, the author of the Parent Trigger law, has criticized the organization’s tactics, and said that presenting Adelanto parents with two different petitions to sign was “needlessly confusing.” 
So when it turns out that enough parents were manipulated into signing a petition where they were asked if they wanted to lower class sizes but found out they were being used to trigger a charter and then wanted their names removed which would have untriggered the trigger, the judge ruled against them. But the school board may have done an end run around the push for the school to be replaced by a charter. From Charters and Choice blog

California 'Parent-Trigger' Effort Thrown Back Into Turmoil

A California school board has approved a plan to restructure a school at the center of a closely watched "parent-trigger" dispute, but it's not the plan that a group of parents wanted—and it's not the plan they say a judge ordered put in place.
The Adelanto, Calif., school board voted Friday to accept a petition circulated by a group of parents seeking to become the first in the country to use a parent-trigger law to overhaul an academically struggling school. But the panel rejected the parents' preferred option, which was to convert Desert Trails Elementary into a charter school, the board's president, Carlos Mendoza, told Education Week in an e-mail. The board instead decided to move forward with a form of "alternate governance," he said, which would result in a longer school day, improved technology and other changes to the school.
But whether that plan will ever take effect is anything but certain.
The Adelanto board's actions drew an immediate, angry reaction from the parents seeking to change the school, who said the panel has run afoul of the letter of an court decision issued by a judge last month, which in their view clearly calls for the creation of a charter.
"They've violated the plain language of the order of the court," said Ben Austin, the executive director of Parent Revolution, a group that has helped the parents with the trigger effort. "The district seems to want to hold onto power, no matter what. ... There is no ambiguity about the judge's order."
How nice to see Ben Austin vexed. He will go back to court to force the charter on parents who choose not to have a charter. Now note this big lie in the article to make it appear that parent triggers are a slam dunk without mentioning that Florida turned it down.

A growing number of states have either approved or considered parent-trigger laws, policies that typically allow parents to revamp the operations, leadership, and personnel at academically struggling schools, if a majority of parents agree to those changes. Lawmakers aren't the only ones drawn to the idea. A movie titled "Won't Back Down," which tells the story of a fictionalized attempt at a school takeover, will be released next month.
[Superintendent] Mendoza pointed to the language of the judge's order, saying that school board has done nothing to interfere with allowing the parents to begin sorting through charter school proposals. "We have never stopped them from soliciting applications," he wrote to Education Week. The board simply voted to pursue another option, he said.
"I believe that the alternative governance is closer to what the Desert Trails Parent Union [has] been claiming to want than a charter school," Mendoza argued. The parents "now have a choice," he said. "They can partner with the district through the alternate governance plan and transform the school or they can continue to partner with Parent Revolution to further rob our kids with lawsuits."
Austin, however, scoffed at the board's reasoning, saying the judge had been clear that the school is to be converted to a charter.
Ben Austin wants parent choice, as long as it's limited to charters.

The school board took an option that Leonie point to:
But are there other ways to provide better “choices” for parents?  There are many ways that districts can provide more and better choices within the public school system, by creating magnet schools and specialized schools that unlike charters, do not drain resources from public schools, privatize public buildings or take decisions out of voters’ hands. Why should a public school built with taxpayer funds be given to a private corporation just because 51% of current users signed a petition?  If a local firehouse was ineffective in putting out fires, or a police station in fighting crime, would we choose to hand these public services over to a private company, or would we demand that our elected leaders improve them?
Leonie gives us some more history:
The first time the “parent trigger” was tried, Parent Revolution sent operatives into Compton CA, to ask parents to sign a petition saying that their local elementary school should be turned into a charter school. Some parents who signed the petition later said they been misled,  the effort was mired in lawsuits and ultimately fizzled. 

What does the Parent Trigger law call for?  If 51% of parents at a school can be persuaded to sign a petition calling for any of a narrow set of options – either firing all the teaching staff, closing the school, or privatizing the school by turning it over to a charter operator, this must occur.  None of these options has any track record of success.
How did the Parent Trigger law originate?  The Parent Trigger was first conceived by a LA-based organization called the Parent Revolution, founded by a charter school operator and funded by the Broad, Walton and Gates Foundations.  The legislation was introduced in California by then-State Senator Gloria Romero, who now heads the California branch of the pro-privatization organization, Democrats for Education Reform.  
How can we fight back?  Last spring, Florida parent groups, including Parents Across America, banded together to fight Parent Trigger legislation that had been introduced in the state legislature. By holding rallies and press conferences, calling their elected representatives, and speaking out about how the Parent Trigger is a ruse devised by corporate reformers to benefit charter operators rather than children, Florida parents prevented the legislation from being passed
Parents Union support the movie
A website, developed by The Protea Group Inc. called Parents for "Won't Back Down" supports the movie. Website is sponsored by:
Website Developed & Administered by The Protea Group Inc.
If you follow the links you will find direct and indirect attack on Leonie Haimson and Parents Across America.
Gwen Samuel, President of the Connecticut Parents Union closes her press release with this statement where she accuses people opposing the movie with trying to bully parents.
So, again, I ask, what is the big fuss and why would anyone bully parents to not watch a movie that will inspire parents to be more active in their child’s educational journey?
Oh, la di da, it's only a movie - and I neglected to mention that the movie is backed by the very people attacking teachers, unions and public education. 

Really, who is doing the bullying here? 


  1. I Googled Gwen Smanuel and found she was forced out of another parent group. She also owes some people money.

    But it makes sense they will be going after PAA because they are a threat.

    Broad has just released an email highlighting his new accelerated plan to bring reform into schools. Notice I said "accelerated". If "new" movements are planning to fight these reforms, they cannot afford to work at a snail's pace. Isn't Randi connected with Broad??

  2. And Gwen Samuel is now Mona Davids BFF.

    Norm, it hit the nail on the head the other day. It's time to start distancing ourselves from Mona Davids.

  3. Broad gave the UFT charter school a million dollars and also helped back the Kahlenberg Shanker bio.
    There is nothing to distance from Mona. When she supports the work we do that is fine and when she doesn't we tell it like it is. Mona gets some points for doing the right thing over w period of time.

  4. The Democratic Party has committed the gravest of insults by permitting Rhee's Astroturf group to air the parent trigger film "Won't Back Down" at the Democratic National Convention.
    Check out my post on StudentsFirst's September 3 screening of the film at the convention.

  5. And: Rhee has also advised Republican Governor Rick Scott:

    see how she has advised Republican governor Rick Scott.

    No surprised that DFER's Joe Williams, the charter school promoter, is there for the DNC screening of "Won't Back Down."


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