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‘Parent Trigger’ Shoots a Failing School

The Wall Street Journal suggested it could be the “shot heard ’round the world.”

The New York Times called it a “nightmare situation.”

The LA Times avoided such hyperbole, reporting flatly that parents with children attending McKinley Elementary in Compton were the “first to use California’s new “parent-trigger” law, under which a
majority of parents can force a school to shut down, replace its staff
or convert to a charter.

“Giving power to the parents — this is what this is all about,” declared Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a strong supporter of the Parent Revolution led by Ben Austin which successfully fought for enactment of a year-old state law that has shaken up the education establishment across the country.
History was made on Tuesday when 60 percent of the parents of McKinley students, organized by the Parent Revolution, turned in petitions exercising their right to take over the school and turn it over to Celerity, a successful charter school operator.

With several other states moving to enact similar legislation, the Parent Revolution represents a radical shift in education, a devolution of power away from school boards and teacher unions and giving parents a direct say in the children’s education.

It has the support of the Obama Administration and former Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is running for mayor of Chicago in part on a pledge to enact a  “parent trigger” law.

It is what Neighborhood Councils were supposed to achieve in local government in LA but have been thwarted for a decade by the obstructionist tactics of City Hall.

Needless to say, the teacher unions are bitterly fighting against the parent trigger as you can hear in KPCC’s Larry Mantle’s interview Tuesday with Marty Hittleman, president of the California Federation of Teachers who has called the parent trigger a “lynch mob law.”
United Teachers Los Angeles, the LAUSD union, also vigorously opposes the parent trigger as well as the mayor’s top-down reform effort through the Partnership for LA Schools that got positive coverage Tuesday from columnist Steve Lopez.

Resistance to power sharing from those who have is to be expected but it should be clear to anyone paying the least attention that the winds of change are blowing hard across America, that the deep recession has exposed deep public discontent and the disconnect between our governmental institutions at all levels and people.

Like the citizen revolt that brought down the corruption in the City of Bell, the parent revolt over a failing school in Compton ought to inspire people everywhere to stand up against the failure of government to serve their interests.

This a revolutionary time in America.

The economy is never coming back to the point where hyper-consumerism defines the American Dream, the American way of life.

Dramatic changes are coming whether we resist them or stand by passively. Like the people of Bell and Compton, poor and largely minority communities, we are all need to become active participants in taking back our school, our cities, our states, our nation or leave it to others to determine what the new America is going to be like.

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8 Responses to ‘Parent Trigger’ Shoots a Failing School

  1. Rich Goodman says:

    This post is very inspirational. Thanks for sharing the momentous decision. I am curious to find out what the opposition of this democratically enacted decision has to say about it and their reason for opposing it.

  2. Hey, can we do this with the City?

  3. david r2b says:

    As a FYI:
    Last night I wanted to watch the days’ events with the City Council. Normally Channel 35 starts the Council reruns at 7:30 PM. Last night it started late at 8:00 PM, however there was no sound. Then later there was sound, however it was the Spanish interpretation, which is OK, but my Spanish isn’t too good.
    The Spanish version went on for a while then the sound went off again. Then a little after 9:00 PM the Council rerun stopped and a generic set of advisories started playing with music over the visuals. I then turned off the TV.
    Question: does the City Council want the Citizens of Los Angeles “not to be able” to watch our City Government in action? Lately, for the last couple of months, there have been all kinds of problems on Channel 35. Not with the other programming, only with the Council meetings. Strange . . . . . . . . . . .

  4. Anon2 says:

    The irony is that this school seemed to have markedly improved its test scores in recent years. What accounts for the trigger being invoked here but not in schools that are in many respects much worse off? It seems like you have to have an involved group of parents, something that hacked off those parents, and some real organizational skill (or outside organizers). If parent involvement is one of the keys to student achievement (as many on both the union and parent side claim), then we may only see this right invoked in schools that are improving and not in schools that are complete failures since there won’t be a committed core of parents already there willing to stay long enough to turn the school around. That means that you likely have to have something really audacious, beyond just concern about test scores etc, for a parent takeover.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Because of bond money the new schools keep being built yet LA has the highest drop out rate. The money LAUSD spends other then really teaching the kids is absurb. Listen this inspiring woman who as Oprah talking about a school revolution throughout the US. Do you know out of the 30 countries our US schools rank #27? IT doesn’t surprise me in the least. AS one man told me, “we are teaching our kids to be employees, instead of entreprenurs or the employers.”

  6. doug says:

    This is a really empowering story for all parents to be able to take action regarding their neighborhood schools. On a related note, it will be interesting to see how charters and public schools interact in LA with this week’s news about a new collaborative agreement to share best practices and resources.
    Perhaps this collaboration could improve all schools so parents aren’t left with this last-resort option.

  7. Anonymous says:

    For all California community newspapers, libraries, T.V. stations, schools, PTA’s, Teachers, Students, and “concerned” Parents:
    “STANDARD FOR UNDERSTANDING AND ORGANIZING SUBJECT MATTER FOR STUDENT LEARNING…….Teachers exhibit working knowledge of subject matter and student development. Teachers organize curriculum to facilitate students’ understanding of the central themes, concepts, and skills in the subject area. Teachers interrelate ideas and information within and across curricular areas to extend students’ understanding. Teachers use their knowledge of student development, subject matter, instructional resources and teaching strategies to make subject matter accessible to all students.”
    Key Element:
    As Citizens develop, they may ask, “How do WE….”or Why do WE use the California Content Standards?…Where can WE find them?

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