Monday, August 15, 2011

Gem's Julie Cavanagh Debates Parent Trigger online this week in Manhattan institute Sponsored Event starting Monday at 12 noon

Follow daily coverage on Ed Notes

TUNE IN! Online Debate Begins Monday August 15, 2011 at 12 p.m. ET

In 2010, California enacted education legislation known as the “parent trigger.” The legislation empowers parents of children at schools that have failed to meet annual yearly progress for at least four years to change the administration, convert the school to a charter, or shut it down completely if they gather signatures from at least 51% of parents at the school. Similar legislation exists in Mississippi and Connecticut, but has failed to become law in Arkansas, Colorado, Maine, and Maryland.
In the first online debate, Ben Boychuk and Julie Cavanagh will examine the arguments in favor and in opposition to this reform, focusing on the experience to date in California and developments in other parts of the country where similar legislation is being considered.
Many school reformers believe that this law puts the interests of children ahead of teachers and helps to save children in failing schools before the clock runs out. Many education professionals, among them the president of the California Federation of Teachers, view the law as a “lynch mob provision,” intended to dismantle the public school system. The politics of the “parent trigger” are confusing, with the lines between conservatives and liberals often blurred.
The debate will go live on August 15th at 12 p.m. ET at Over the next four days Ben Boychuk and Julie Cavanagh will have an opportunity to respond to the opposing view, with final remarks posted at 12 p.m. ET on August 18th.

If you would like to schedule an interview with Ben Boychuk or Julie Cavanagh, please contact Kasia Zabawa at (646) 839-3342 or by email at

Ben Boychuk is associate editor of City Journal, where he writes on education and California politics. Previously, he served as managing editor of the Heartland Institute's School Reform News and the Claremont Review of Books. He is also a former editorial writer for Investor's Business Daily and the Press-Enterprise in Riverside, California. Boychuk writes a weekly column for the Sacramento Bee and Scripps-Howard News Service. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Orange County Register, the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Diego Union-Tribune, the New York Post, National Review Online, the Korea Times and newspapers across the United States.

Julie Cavanagh has been a special education teacher for more than ten years in Red Hook, Brooklyn.  She currently serves children with intellectual disabilities in grades first through third and previously served children with learning differences in grades four and five. Julie received her BS in special education from Indiana University, her MS in curriculum and teaching from Fordham University, where she was an Ennis Cosby Scholar, and her advanced degree in administration and supervision from Brooklyn College. She is a member of Grassroots Education Movement; advocating for equity and real reform in our public education system. Julie is also the co-producer of the documentary The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman. is a one-stop-shop for the latest news, analysis and research about the issues facing the public sector and the American taxpayer. It provides a national forum to probe problems and develop solutions at the state and local level. With a critical focus on the urgent topics of pension reform, employee compensation, bargaining and retirement health benefits for public employees, is shaping the national debate unfolding in state capitals and city halls across America. is published by the Center for State and Local Leadership at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.
The Manhattan Institute, a 501(c)(3), is a think tank whose mission is to develop and disseminate new ideas
 that foster greater economic choice and individual responsibility.

Leonie Haimson to MI

question to Manhattan Institute; why no parents involved in debate re parent empowerment?

Julie’s a great advocate, but Kasia,  do  you have a comment for our NYC education list or our NYC Public School Parent blog about why the Manhattan Institute didn’t ask public school parents to discuss the issue of parent empowerment? 

Is it that the Manhattan Institute doesn’t know any public school parents, or is it that you don’t trust or respect them to be able to intelligently debate this issue?

Don’t you think it would have been appropriate to include one of us in the discussion?

There are many parents throughout the country who have analyzed and have views on the Parent Trigger. 

See for example Parents Across America’s position paper here:


1 comment:

  1. Before even reading the debate itself, I'm responding to Manhattan Institute's introduction, which describes the Parent Trigger in its own fashion.

    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.


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