A funny thing happened when Ben Austin was on his way to reforming LAUSD from within — his paid petitioners to qualify him for the school board ballot for the Westside got screwed up and he didn’t get enough signatures.
So Austin did a better thing. He went back to the Parents Union he started as an offshoot of Steve Barr’s Green Dot charter school organization and now he’s launching not a reform effort but a “Parent Revolution” to take apart the district school by school and put parents and teachers in charge.
“If 51% of the parents at your school sign the petition demanding a
better school, we will guarantee your child a great school, in your
neighborhood, within three years” — that’s the promise made by the organization.
“The Parent Revolution is about power, plain and simple,” Austin says on the group’s website www.parentrevolution.org. “It’s about taking power from bureaucrats, special interests, and — yes — politicians, and giving it to parents. Because parents are the only people without a conflict of interest when it comes to the future of our kids. We will stand with any leader who is willing to embrace — and be held accountable to — that agenda.”
On Wednesday, Austin will be joined by parents and children for the group’s formal launch at 8:30 a.m. at Gertz-Ressler High School and Richard Merkin Middle School, which are
both run by Alliance for College-Ready Public Schools, a charter operator.
“Together, we call upon all the parents of Los Angeles to sign up, stand up, stand together and speak with one voice – together, we are going to take back our schools for our kids, our communities, and our collective future.,” he says in remarks prepared for the Wednesday’s news conference.
A lot of different efforts have been undertaken to break the 30-year cycle of failure at LAUSD. Charters have whittled away at the edges despite strong resistance from the vast school bureaucracy and the unions.
The only reforms I believe that can succeed either in the schools or at City Hall involve citizen empowerment.
From Washington, to Sacramento, to LA, the last 50 years should have taught us what happens when the public becomes powerless, given nothing but a choice between tweedledee and tweedledum candidates.
Special interests have taken over our country, bought our politicians and sold out the public interest. Until the people have a seat at the table of power, we will not have a balance of competing interests or be able to fix our schools or our city.
It seems so obvious to me and yet I keep waiting and waiting for even a single prominent politician to step forward and embrace the idea of real democracy