Monday, August 15, 2011

Add Your Comments at Ed Notes on Parent Trigger Online Debate at Manhattan Institute - Monday Aug. 15

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If you saw this post this morning:

Gem's Julie Cavanagh Debates Parent Trigger online this week in Manhattan Institute Sponsored Event starting Monday at 12 noon...and lasting through Thursday

Starting today, Julie will be debating Ben Boychuk on the Parent Trigger, an ed deform wolf in sheep's clothing at the Manhattan Institute's Public Sector.

Since there is no room for comments we are using Ed Notes as the vehicle for public comment every day.

Here is the link to today's debate:
http://www.publicsectorinc.com/online_debates/2011/08/the-parent-trigger-a-positive-step-or-a-distraction-for-improving-our-public-schools.html

Tomorrow at 12 noon you can see the responses to each other and so on through Thursday.

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Parent Trigger supposedly allows parents at a school perceived as not functioning effectively to vote on a number of options, most of which could lead to some level of privatization. On the surface Boychuk's arguments may look attractive to some parents. But the reality in a time of of big money charter/voucher supporters what we will see is they will hire some front group to find a few parents (maybe even pay them) to organize other parents - you know the drill - innundate  the community with flyers, ads, glossy posters, etc while the public school is left defenseless to fight back. And Voila - you have another  public intitution disappear into the mitt of privatization. Why are the investing so much money in this endeavor? I don't think you need me to answer. Despite Boychuk's list of options we know this is the more likely outcome.

I should point out that Manhattan Institute is generally a pro-business right wing think tank. But this debate is possibly a sign that the weaknesses of ed deform are leaking through the cracks.

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Leonie Haimson asks Why No Parent in the debate?
I posted Leonie's question to MI in the posting of the press release from MI this morning. Of course MI could just as well have gotten a parent to debate each side of the issue. But given they are using Boychuk who is associated with MI, Julie as an educator works out fine.

Julie responded to Leonie's question:

For the record, so folks on the Ed News list and PAA are aware, I raised this issue with he Manhattan Institute when I was first asked to participate. I felt uncomfortable as an educator being the voice, which I figured would be the 'opposition' voice, on the parent trigger. I was well aware of the strong opposition from many individual parents and groups across the country. I was told that they asked me because I could speak to the issue from the school level.

Now, we/I can hypothesize as to why a teacher, rather than a parent was asked (in the middle of the project is probably not the best time for me to do this), but I figured accepting the invitation was better than allowing it to go to someone else, who clearly would not have been a parent either.

I want all of you to know that I have heavily sought the input and advice of several parents including Leonie (and members of paa) and Mona and will be linking almost exclusively (if not in full) to parents'  work and writing in my posts  including paa, class size matters and ny charter parents.

Parent empowerment, true empowerment, has always been of paramount importance to me, which is precisely why I do oppose the parent trigger (in its current forms), and why I agreed to this forum/debate.

Best,
Julie Cavanagh

6 comments:

  1. Ummm. Is it me or should Julie Cavanaugh be the president of the UFT? She's in a league of her own!
    Kudos!

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  2. Julie did an excellent job! I hereby make her an honorary public school parent.

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  3. Here are some responses to Ben Boychuk. He says: "parents are the one “stakeholder” in public education without a conflict of interest."
    My response:
    However, parents' interests may conflict with each other. For example, charter schools notoriously serve far fewer high-needs students – the very poor (free-lunch rather than reduced-lunch), the disabled and English-language learners. Parents whose kids don't fall into that category may be eager to charterize, but a resulting charter school is – as amply demonstrated by reality – unlikely to serve the highest-need students. No matter what the promises, charters always have found and always fill find a way to exclude and dump those students.

    So that complicates the notion that parents all have the same interests and issues at stake.

    Further responses:

    As noted in my response to the introduction to this debate, it was not parents who attempted to use the law in Compton, Calif. The petition drive was mounted by Parent Revolution, an organization created by and for charter school operators, which pre-selected the option of charterizing and pre-selected the charter before a single parent at the school ever heard about it.

    There are many reasons to oppose the Parent Trigger, starting with the fact that the notion of turning public property over to private hands based on a petition drive is problematic. It's false and misleading to claim that the only reason there's opposition is that it threatens union power.

    The notion that the Parent Trigger would increase parent involvement is questionable. At least here in California, home of the Parent Trigger, public schools are required to involved parents in school governance through School Site Councils. Admittedly, that often doesn't work effectively. However, there is no such requirement for charter schools, so parents have LESS power if the school becomes a charter. They only get a voice at all if the charter operator chooses to grant it.

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  4. I'm cross-posting my responses to the Manhattan Institute's introduction describing (in its own fashion) the Parent Trigger.

    The legislation POSES AS empowering parents to make these changes in their school. This has not actually happened in any California schools. There is only one case in which the petition signatures have actually been presented – McKinley Elementary in Compton, CA. The petition drive was initiated and carried out not by parents but by the organization Parent Revolution, which was created by and for charter school operators. Parent Revolution selected the school to target and pre-selected the charter operator to take over the school before its paid operation approached a single McKinley parent for a signature. The signature-gathering was conducted in stealth, so that parents were unaware that they had other choices, and there was no discussion of pros and cons. Clearly, that was not a process that “empowered” parents. There have, as yet, been no other cases of completed Parent Trigger petition drives. That is the experience to date in California.

    It is presumably accurate that some education professionals – as well as other advocates of public education, myself included – view the law as part of the effort to dismantle the public school system. It's not accurate or fair to use the inflammatory quote “lynch mob provision,” from a blurt by one person, and claim that “many education professionals” endorse that term.

    The politics of the parent trigger are DELIBERATELY confusing, with the forces behind it making a show of portraying themselves, falsely and misleadingly, as pro-labor liberals.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Here are some responses to Ben Boychuk.

    He says: "...parents are the one “stakeholder” in public education without a conflict of interest...."

    However, parents' interests may conflict with each other. For example, charter schools notoriously serve far fewer high-needs students – the very poor (free-lunch rather than reduced-lunch), the disabled and English-language learners. Parents whose kids don't fall into that category may be eager to charterize, but a resulting charter school is – as amply demonstrated by reality – unlikely to serve the highest-need students. No matter what the promises, charters always have found and always fill find a way to exclude and dump those students. Public schools, by contrast, must serve all students.

    ##

    As noted in my response to the introduction to this debate, it was not parents who attempted to use the law in Compton, Calif. The petition drive was mounted by Parent Revolution, an organization created by and for charter school operators, which pre-selected the option of charterizing and pre-selected the charter before a single parent at the school ever heard about it.

    ##

    There are many reasons to oppose the Parent Trigger, starting with the fact that the notion of turning public property over to private hands based on a petition drive is problematic. It's false and misleading to claim that the only reason there's opposition is that it threatens union power.

    ##

    The notion that the Parent Trigger would increase parent involvement is questionable. At least here in California, home of the Parent Trigger, public schools are required to involved parents in school governance through School Site Councils. Admittedly, that often doesn't work effectively. However, there is no such requirement for charter schools, so parents have LESS power if the school becomes a charter. They only get a voice at all if the charter operator chooses to grant it. That's the nature of privatization.

    ReplyDelete
  6. The Parent Trigger is another Trojan Horse.

    BTW, Julie Cavanagh is phenomenal--not just because she's articulate but because she cares.

    ReplyDelete

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