Mayor Villaraigosa boasted today on Twitter that he’s hired a new education czar Joan Sullivan who “in 2003 raised the money to found the Bronx Academy of Letters High School, and instituted parent engagement programs…That got 80 % parent turnout at school events.”
Let us now praise what is praiseworthy about the mayor these days: His commitment to parent empowerment.
Having floundered in efforts to reform LAUSD, the mayor last summer got aboard the Parent Revolution, the non-profit led by former Deputy Mayor Ben Austin, to organize families to spearhead the takeover of failing schools from the bureaucrats and educators who have failed their children for so long.
Whether the mayor was just playing more politics with the idea that parents should have direct power over the schools or really meant it is now being tested in Sacramento.
Last Thursday, the state Senate passed by a single vote legislation to implement President Obama’s “Race to the Top” education reform policies and make California eligible for $700 million in badly-needed aid to our underfunded schools.
Senate President Pro Tem Darrel Steinberg and Sen. Gloria Romero were instrumental in the getting the measure passed with a key a provision backed by the Parent Revolution – the so-called “parent trigger.”
The parent trigger would force school districts to close or drastically revamp badly failing schools – the largest number of them in LA – or allow children to transfer to another district when 51 percent of parents at any school sign petitions.
Needless to say, the education establishment is appalled at the idea and the California Teachers Association is pulling out all stops to have it deleted from the Assembly version that comes up for a vote early next year.
There is a telling irony in the politics over the parent trigger.
Republicans, often criticized as elitist and anti-democratic, are all for giving parents so much power.
Democrats, who like to portray themselves as the party of the people, are pretty solidly standing with the CTA, one of Sacramento’s biggest spending and most powerful lobbyist groups.
Negotiations now under way with a deadline of Christmas Eve to come up with a final Assembly bill and unless some Democratic leaders show the same courage as Steinberg and Romero showed in the Senate, the measure will be gutted of its most important reform.
The mayor boasts often about how much clout he’s got and how valuable are his trips to Washington and Sacramento – if not South Africa, Iceland and Copenhagen – in getting benefits for LA.
Here is his chance to shine by pressuring his friends in the Assembly. And it’s your chance to let our Assembly members know you believe in people power and the right of parents to decide what’s best for their children.
Don’t let them pull the trigger on the parent trigger.
Contact these key Assembly members by email at this website or by telephone at: