Five years after California parents gained the power to initiate major changes at failing schools, advocates of the state’s controversial parent-trigger law are expanding their strategies to broaden its influence.

Former State Sen. Gloria Romero, the law’s author, founded a nonprofit last year to educate parents about the California Parent Empowerment Act. Even as Romero launched her initiative, another group of parent-trigger-campaign veterans had already started working to develop a more collaborative approach to turning around troubled schools.

The two startups point to disparate directions California’s maturing parent-trigger law may take. They could include more contentious parent-led efforts, like the one currently underway with Romero’s guidance at Palm Lane Elementary School in Anaheim. The law may also continue to become part of a multi-layered strategy to help poor, minority communities in their pursuit of educational justice.

At the same time, California’s experience so far has motivated only a few states to follow its lead in adopting a parent-trigger law as a model for school overhauls: Six states have adopted parent-trigger inspired laws since 2010. This year lawmakers in six more states are considering parent-trigger legislation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Amendments proposed to laws in California and Texas this year would increase the number of eligible schools.

The California Parent Empowerment Act allows parents whose children attend chronically low-performing schools to force districts to enact sweeping education reforms that range from hiring a new principal and replacing staff to transforming the school into a charter. Parents must garner support by petition from 50 percent of students’ parents, plus one, to set the law in motion.

“This is simply about giving parents, in particular low-income parents, parents of color, and undocumented parents, real power over the destiny of their own children,” said Ben Austin, former executive director of Parent Revolution.

Most of the handful of schools where parents have used the law serve predominantly Hispanic and African-American students from low-income families, said Alfonso Flores, the chief executive officer of Excellent Educational Solutions, a private consulting firm founded by former parent-trigger community organizers. However, he said education reformers’ egos, in some cases, can muddy debates and lose sight of those critical societal pressures.

“Parents just want to feel like their child has a shot at the American Dream,” Flores said. “They don’t give a hoot about the politics.”

Meanwhile, Parent Revolution, a nonprofit created to support parents choosing to use the parent-trigger law, is seeking new leadership after longtime executive director Ben Austin resigned late last year. Parent Revolution, which has drawn the ire of critics who see it as divisive, self-promoting, and yielding few tangible results, rebuffs detractors’ assessments of the group, and remains undeterred that the parent-trigger law is a viable education reform tool.

“We’ve always said that we’re trying to spread a movement, not an organization,” Gabe Rose, Parent Revolution’s chief strategy officer, said during an interview at the group’s downtown Los Angeles office, where the décor is inspired by Silicon Valley technology firms. “We desperately want more parent organizations and other allies to pick up this work.”

‘Wild West’

But parents living outside of California haven’t shown much appetite to take the parent-trigger plunge.

In fact, a spokeswoman for the National PTA, the nation’s largest parent-advocacy organization, said the Alexandria, Va.-based group does not have an official position on the law.

So far, nationally, only one school, Desert Trails Elementary School in Adelanto, Calif., has been transformed into a charter while another six schools in the state have used the parent-trigger law in some way to secure changes on their campuses.

Romero said lawmakers often overlook the importance of monitoring how a law is implemented. “If you don’t know the law, you can’t use the law,” she added.

Ohio’s parent-trigger pilot program in Columbus may have fallen victim to this pitfall. Greg Harris, executive director of the pro-charter nonprofit group StudentsFirst Ohio, said Columbus parents received little to no information about the state’s parent-trigger law. Under the law, it was up to the school district to publicize the option to parents.

“Parents will do their homework and will look for other opportunities for their kids,” Harris said. “It’s too soon to call parent trigger a failure [in Ohio.] It hasn’t really had its day.”

However, John Rogers, an associate professor in UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, predicts the parent-trigger law may have run its course in California.

Rogers, who co-authored an upcoming research paper about the law, for the journal Teachers College Record, explained that the parent-trigger law was a byproduct of the nation’s crippling fiscal crisis, which ultimately left public schools facing steep budget cuts and angered some parents who already felt their schools were underfunded. Now, California is injecting more money into public schools, and the state’s new funding law requires parental input.

Left to right, Excellent Educational Solutions team members Jesus Sanchez, chief strategy officer, Alfonso Flores, founder and CEO, and Angel Garcia, chief operations officer.

Photo by David Walter Banks

Left to right, Excellent Educational Solutions team members Jesus Sanchez, chief strategy officer, Alfonso Flores, founder and CEO, and Angel Garcia, chief operations officer.

Calling it an “old Wild West metaphor,” Rogers said the law “taps into a real frustration at the core of many parents’ experiences, but it deflects from the real cause of that frustration.”

Instead of shifting power from a “recalcitrant bureaucracy to parents with a holster,” he said developing empowered relationships among parents and educators would be more effective for the entire community.

That’s the direction three former Parent Revolution organizers wanted to take community-organizing efforts when they founded Excellent Educational Solutions. Flores said the organizers grew disillusioned working for Parent Revolution, which he says became too preoccupied with “pulling triggers” and downplayed more collaborative campaigns like the agreement reached at Lexington Middle School in Pomona, Calif.

Jesus Sanchez, the chief strategy officer for the Hesperia, Calif.-based firm, said their vision is to create a safe environment where parents and educators can have honest conversations about their school. They want to be proactive and develop meaningful parent-engagement plans with school districts.

‘Power to Parents’

While some view the parent-trigger law as a political enterprise, Flores said for his team of organizers, it’s personal. All three men are Hispanic and are graduates of Southern California public schools in low-income communities. They see their own families when they look into the faces of the parents they help, he said.

Sanchez acknowledges that parent-trigger campaigns can be divisive. “But,” he noted, “so are presidential campaigns. The one thing parent trigger does accomplish, it does make people (respond.)”

For her part, Romero – whose nonprofit hired Excellent Educational Solutions to help organize parents at Palm Lane in Anaheim – is much less inclined to support collaboration with district officials when it comes to parents who she says have been trapped “by their ZIP codes” in bad schools for years.

“I see nothing wrong with saying, ‘Power to the parents,’ ” said Romero, who grew up in East Los Angeles. “This is not the district-empowerment law.”

The former Democratic state lawmaker founded the California Center for Parent Empowerment last year. The Los Angeles-based nonprofit, which is supported by the Walton Family Foundation and the Broad Foundation, is focusing its efforts on educating parents about the parent-trigger law and the state’s Open Enrollment Act, which also became law in 2010.

The Open Enrollment Act allows students to enroll in a higher-performing school that has capacity, if their current school is identified by the state education department as one of the 1,000 “low-achieving” schools in California.

After the open-enrollment-eligible school list was released in November, Romero sent organizers to a few Los Angeles-area schools to inform parents about their rights. Parents only had until Jan. 1 to apply for school transfers under the law.

These laws have caused so much anxiety that Romero said the police were called to one school in Montebello, Calif., where the center’s organizers were handing out informational flyers after school. She says police also were called to a school district office in Anaheim, as another center organizer waited for information regarding Palm Lane’s rejected parent petitions. Parents there are currently working to resolve the issues with the petition.

“It’s crazy,” Romero said about the incidents. “But we should not be surprised. When you put a new seat at the table, you have to rearrange how power gets divided. This is a whole new chapter in the education reform movement, and it scares people.”

Disagreement Among Advocates

Although Romero initially worked closely with Parent Revolution, she is highly critical of that organization today, alleging that it has focused mostly on promoting itself. She also notes that much of Parent Revolution’s staff has left the organization.

Austin, Parent Revolution’s founder, discounted Romero’s claims that the group lost sight of the law’s purpose.

Parent volunteer Ana Rodriguez, right, helps Eric Barboza, center, with his reading while other students, including Isiah Salaza, left, work on reading exercises at Lexington Elementary School in Pamona.

Photo by David Walter Banks

Parent volunteer Ana Rodriguez, right, helps Eric Barboza, center, with his reading while other students, including Isiah Salaza, left, work on reading exercises at Lexington Elementary School in Pamona.

“This is simply about giving parents, in particular low-income parents, parents of color, and undocumented parents, real power over the destiny of their own children,” said Austin, who calls himself the inventor of the parent-trigger law.

In January, Austin became the policy development and advocacy director for Students Matter, a Menlo Park, Calif.-based national education nonprofit that sponsored the Vergara v.California lawsuit, which struck down state laws on teacher tenure and dismissal. Austin said his exit and staff turnover at Parent Revolution are due to the taxing nature of working on parent-trigger campaigns.

Austin said that Parent Revolution made mistakes in its first failed petition drive in Compton, Calif., in 2010, by assuming too much decisionmaking responsibility. But he said the efforts that followed focused on organizing and training parent-union members to lead successful campaigns. Parent Revolution also hosted a Parent Power Convention in November and created a network of parent unions to broaden and strengthen parent-empowerment efforts.

One of Parent Revolution’s most active parent unions, at West Athens Elementary School in Los Angeles, enlisted Parent Revolution’s help last year and secured a $300,000 deal with the Los Angeles Unified School District to address chronic school safety and bullying issues.

But during a recent West Athens Parent Union meeting in a home directly next to the school’s campus, most parents said they aren’t satisfied even though LAUSD added an assistant principal, a part-time social worker/psychologist, and a school safety officer. Their chief complaint continues to be student bullying and school safety. A Parent Revolution organizer served as an interpreter as parents explained in Spanish how students have left campus at dismissal time without being released to the appropriate parent or guardian. Parents said one situation prompted a police helicopter search of the area for a student.

While one parent suggested that a charter conversion might give West Athens a fresh start, most of the eight parents attending the meeting said they support the school’s teachers and wouldn’t want them to leave under a charter scenario.

“I think the solution to all the school’s problems is the principal,” parent Jessica Alday said in Spanish, as other parents nodded in agreement.

The parent union members’ dissatisfaction came as a surprise to Ruth Castillo, West Athens’ principal and Rosalinda Lugo, an LAUSD instructional director, who managed negotiations with the parent union last year.

Castillo said West Athens would undergo an annual instructional and operational review with all the school’s stakeholders in May. She added that although the school hosts anti-bullying student assemblies every six weeks, controlling student behavior remains a challenge.

“It’s a work in progress,” Castillo said. “With behavior there are peaks and there are valleys.”

Meanwhile, Lugo, who plans to meet with the parent union this month, said the district would re-evaluate West Athens’ budget to determine how to best address parents’ concerns for the 2015-16 school year.

Using the parent-trigger law to transform schools is fraught with multifaceted challenges, noted Lydia Grant, a longtime Parent Revolution board member and a parent advocate from Sunland-Tujunga, Calif.

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Grant said parents, like those at West Athens, who lead trigger campaigns have to be willing to stand up to school district officials and potentially become targets for retaliation and media scrutiny. That’s why parents, not Parent Revolution, must set the pace of school overhauls, she said.

“We, as an organization, can’t force parents to do this,” Grant said. “We can offer them the opportunity, but it’s up to them to ask for it.”

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  1. Charles Heckel 2 years ago2 years ago

    Gloria Romero decided that the California Schools for the Deaf would be first in her "education campaign" and published two columns criticizing the school at the Riverside campus in the local newspaper. These columns were quite one-sided and inflammatory, and demonstrated a complete lack of understanding of deafness, language impairment, or the culture accommodating it. As Romero was quite incensed by the acting superintendent's refusal to discuss matters under litigation, she and her supporters … Read More

    Gloria Romero decided that the California Schools for the Deaf would be first in her “education campaign” and published two columns criticizing the school at the Riverside campus in the local newspaper. These columns were quite one-sided and inflammatory, and demonstrated a complete lack of understanding of deafness, language impairment, or the culture accommodating it. As Romero was quite incensed by the acting superintendent’s refusal to discuss matters under litigation, she and her supporters flashmobbed a closed meeting of Deaf parents and community members on that campus, blocking ASL sight lines needed for deaf communications, and one Romero supporter called the superintendent “deaf and dumb” in front of Deaf parents and children.

    They did not find it particularly empowering.

    The California Association of the Deaf wrote a https://www.facebook.com/CSDRAA/photos/a.685374831494634.1073741828.684859544879496/867171159981666/?type=1&relevant_count=1 to the Orange County Register, which apparently put the quietus to Romero’s tactics.

    The columns in question are viewable on their website http://www.ocregister.com/articles/andrea-636687-students-deaf.html
    and http://www.ocregister.com/articles/csdr-640734-abuse-students.html. A corrective http://www.pe.com/articles/school-756963-students-sexual.html published by the Press-Enterprise established that Romero was referring to two instances of forced sexual activity occurring between two students on one day about a year ago, which were reported and are currently in litigation. It references Romero’s “whistleblowers,” but does not explain why they were reporting abuse to her rather than to the mandated agency, or why they were misappropriating confidential documents about student sexual conduct and sending them to her for publication.

  2. Manuel 3 years ago3 years ago

    Well, at least there was a disclaimer attached to the story. Anyway, the facts behind the founding, development, and current status of this Astroturf org are not in dispute. What matters is that they have always looked for opportunities to appear as if they are giving parents the power when in fact it is the opposite. For instance, in the Adelanto "election:" did the parents who are at the school decided on who what charter org … Read More

    Well, at least there was a disclaimer attached to the story.

    Anyway, the facts behind the founding, development, and current status of this Astroturf org are not in dispute. What matters is that they have always looked for opportunities to appear as if they are giving parents the power when in fact it is the opposite. For instance, in the Adelanto “election:” did the parents who are at the school decided on who what charter org was going to be? No. Does the school still serve the original population? No. What exactly was accomplished?

    It is interesting to see that three Latinos left PRev to form their own group with a different approach: true empowerment through cooperation and collaboration. This is not what Romero has been preaching for some time. Let’s hope that this is a more fruitful path. Time to bring light and not heat.

  3. CarolineSF 3 years ago3 years ago

    Hey Edsource, why are you suddenly submitting all my comments to moderation? Or is this happening to everyone? A few responses to Don. Don says: “If charter operators don’t want to take over existing schools as you maintain, why did they then push the Parent Trigger? Perhaps they discovered in the interim they don’t want to do takeovers, though that seems highly unlikely having had considerable experience with the like…” Parent Revolution was initially founded by Green Dot, … Read More

    Hey Edsource, why are you suddenly submitting all my comments to moderation? Or is this happening to everyone?

    A few responses to Don.

    Don says: “If charter operators don’t want to take over existing schools as you maintain, why did they then push the Parent Trigger? Perhaps they discovered in the interim they don’t want to do takeovers, though that seems highly unlikely having had considerable experience with the like…”

    Parent Revolution was initially founded by Green Dot, a charter operator, with what a reasonable person would view as the intention of taking over public schools and turning them into Green Dot charters. Then Parent Revolution separated from Green Dot (there’s a whole history of rifts upon rifts upon rifts among Green Dot’s insiders, and now same with Parent Revolution — these folks do not get along with each other too well). Green Dot has taken over only one existing school — Locke High School in Watts — and has really struggled badly with that. (That’s been heavily glossed over, so the turmoil gets little attention after a huge blaze of publicity for the original takeover.)

    So, in other words, Green Dot may have learned it wants nothing more to do with taking over existing troubled schools.

    Then Parent Revolution, separated from Green Dot, deployed its first parent trigger, having pre-selected a charter operator (Celerity) to take over a school to be named later, then selected the school (McKinley Elementary, Compton). It didn’t work. THEN Parent Revolution ran another parent trigger, at Desert Trails Elementary in Adelanto (Riverside County), and Parent Revolution orchestrated the trigger so the parents wound up requesting a charter takeover, though that wasn’t on their initial petition. But it was no secret that Parent Revolution had a hard time finding a charter operator to agree to take over the school, as opposed to having one waiting in the wings as they did previously at McKinley in Compton. (Reports of the outcome of the charter takeover at Desert Trails are wildly mixed, from enthusiasm in the mainstream press to dire descriptions of near-collapse in other media, so who knows.) So anyway, yes, I think the charter sector overall has begun to decide that taking over existing struggling schools is too risky.

    Don asks me:
    “you said to follow the money. Have you before you say it is dirty?” I didn’t say it was dirty. I just said that Parent Revolution’s funders are still writing checks, so the organization is still functioning, trying to find its way.

    Don asks me: “I notice you have little to say about Common Core” and speculates on the reason. I have plenty to say privately. Since October 2012 I’ve had a job that keeps me from being actively engaged in advocacy. But I can’t scrub the fact that before that I was deeply engaged in advocacy in some areas, so I still will discuss those topics. I won’t get involved in publicly taking positions on others.

  4. CarolineSF 3 years ago3 years ago

    Off topic, but I can't resist responding to "Floyd." I'm thinking you MUST have had kids in my kids' elementary school, where we had that exact situation with a first-grade teacher. It appeared evident that she was in a severe depression and/or suffering a substance-abuse problem. I was one of the parent leaders involved in getting her removed from the classroom. What we called for was to get her out of the classroom and for … Read More

    Off topic, but I can’t resist responding to “Floyd.” I’m thinking you MUST have had kids in my kids’ elementary school, where we had that exact situation with a first-grade teacher. It appeared evident that she was in a severe depression and/or suffering a substance-abuse problem. I was one of the parent leaders involved in getting her removed from the classroom. What we called for was to get her out of the classroom and for her employer to use all possible leverage and resources to get her help. She was removed from the classroom and we do not have information on what happened after that, because — understandably — that IS a private employer-employee and medical matter.

    Three points. 1. The principal had made no reports and done nothing official to bring the issue to the attention of the district. (I learned that there were two reports in her file — one made by me as a parent calling to find out what was being done, and one made by a fellow teacher.) 2. Because of that, a union representative who was present at a meeting to defend the teacher had absolutely zero information on what the issues were. If the teacher didn’t provide the information to him and the teacher’s supervisor didn’t, who would? 3. Yes, I’m aware of the issue of lack of effective action in dealing with such a case, but I’m also very familiar with the effectiveness and competence of the school district’s human resources department — or very, very, very much lack thereof — and no information in this situation would lead an informed observer to attribute the poor response to union rules.

  5. CarolineSF 3 years ago3 years ago

    In the March 20, 2012, New York Times commentary I wrote (which the Times solicited and for which I wasn't paid, by the way), I did point out that the parent trigger has failed so far. My opinion all along, which I can't conceal as I've blogged it fairly extensively in the past, is that the parent trigger is not a route to improving schools and was never intended to be. It's a sham that … Read More

    In the March 20, 2012, New York Times commentary I wrote (which the Times solicited and for which I wasn’t paid, by the way), I did point out that the parent trigger has failed so far.

    My opinion all along, which I can’t conceal as I’ve blogged it fairly extensively in the past, is that the parent trigger is not a route to improving schools and was never intended to be. It’s a sham that was deceitfully created to enable charter operators to take over public schools. The fly in that ointment is that it turns out charter operators actually rarely want to take over struggling public schools, as opposed to starting their own schools from scratch.

    So why does the parent trigger continue to exist and promote itself? Because its funders are still writing checks, however long THAT may last. Follow the money.

    My “maturing” view, to use a word that grates on me from this EdSource report*, is that by now, the fact that the parent trigger is a failure is a more important and effective point than the fact that it’s a sham.

    (*I refer to this sentence: “The two startups point to disparate directions California’s maturing parent-trigger law may take.” Why “maturing” rather than “struggling” or “flailing”?)

    Replies

    • Don 3 years ago3 years ago

      Caroline, notwithstanding the significant measure of deceit used by charter operators and affiliates to implement the law, there's a flaw in your argument - a fly in the ointment. If charter operators don't want to take over existing schools as you maintain, why did they then push the Parent Trigger? Perhaps they discovered in the interim they don't want to do takeovers, though that seems highly unlikely having had considerable experience with the … Read More

      Caroline, notwithstanding the significant measure of deceit used by charter operators and affiliates to implement the law, there’s a flaw in your argument – a fly in the ointment. If charter operators don’t want to take over existing schools as you maintain, why did they then push the Parent Trigger? Perhaps they discovered in the interim they don’t want to do takeovers, though that seems highly unlikely having had considerable experience with the like. Or perhaps they found the Trigger Law more difficult to employ than they bargained for. Couldn’t really say, but that’s far more plausible.

      But before we go further let’s clear up one point. Not all charter operators or even a small majority are bent
      “taking over the public schools” by turning public education into corporate franchises. Opportunists of that sort exist just as opportunists who feed at the public trough keep traditional public education from innovating. But the majority of charters are run by proponents of school choice – people who have an alternative vision. They see the vast array of private schools, the many available pathways to learning and take their entrepreneurial spirit to try and deliver an alternative educational experience to some of society’s most disenfranchised. There’s no reason why public education has to walk such a thin line unless your main concern is to keep employment conditions free from real reform.

      Anyways, you said to follow the money. Have you before you say it is dirty? That’s the way it is suppose to work in journalism unless you subscribe to the Harry Reid school that says all lying and obfuscation is justified by winning – a conceit that wouldn’t go over well in a high school civics class. There’s dirty money all around. It keeps the politicians in bed with unions. It kept them quite on Common Core. The private sector pays the taxes to hire teachers who must pay dues to buy politicians and the influence they exert to keep themselves and their masters in power. Yet there are good people doing great work in traditional public schools and in charter public schools. Let’s stop making it out as if the charter industry is just one big scam. I find it very hard to believe it is growing leaps and bounds on the basis of deceit. After all, we mature people all weren’t borne yesterday.

      I notice you have little to say about Common Core. Is that a rift you have with Ravtich, an as yet unraveled enigma or an unwillingness to be on same side of some conservatives? Is Parents Across America happy to have their children’s education dictated to them by forces beyond their control?

      • CarolineSF 3 years ago3 years ago

        Don, I answered your questions about my parent trigger comments, but my posts were delayed by moderation and then buried on the “recent comments” list, so just FYI, I did respond.

  6. Gary Ravani 3 years ago3 years ago

    After reading this article the interested should turn to today's EdSource post on how parents worked collaboratively with a school and district to jointly move mutual interests forward. The thoughtful might also consider why these issues arise only in areas of extreme poverty. Are the root causes of parent frustration really what's going on at the schools? Or is it a series of problems common to struggling communities? Recall that schools where the problems seem most … Read More

    After reading this article the interested should turn to today’s EdSource post on how parents worked collaboratively with a school and district to jointly move mutual interests forward.

    The thoughtful might also consider why these issues arise only in areas of extreme poverty. Are the root causes of parent frustration really what’s going on at the schools? Or is it a series of problems common to struggling communities? Recall that schools where the problems seem most acute operate under the same funding mechanisms*, state Ed Code, various statutes related to education, and draw from the same pool of teachers as those schools in more affluent communities where the problems do not seem to arise and “Parent Trigger” is not a consideration.

    *(Note: there are number of school districts in CA, called basic aid-districts, that continue to receive their local school funding via their property tax base. Since these are typically quite affluent areas their school funding can be considerably more than other local districts that are not basic-aid.)

    It will be interesting, after some period of time, to see how, or if, LCFF impacts any of those struggling districts. The increased funding available to districts with concentrations of disadvantaged and second language students will allow districts to provide “some” additional services to those schools. Even with the additional funds CA schools will continue to be funded at levels below the national average and at a fraction at per pupil levels of some of the nations best performing school systems. But, LCFF, is a first step down the road to equity.

    Replies

    • FloydThursby1941 3 years ago3 years ago

      Gary stop using poverty as a scapegoat. Lowell is 99.6% free and reduced lunch and 99.6% complete 4 year degrees or better. Poor Asians outperform upper middle class whites. It's not written in stone that you're ever so poor you can't study with your kids or take them to a library and all you can do is watch TV with them, even Obama said that. Wake up. We need to … Read More

      Gary stop using poverty as a scapegoat. Lowell is 99.6% free and reduced lunch and 99.6% complete 4 year degrees or better. Poor Asians outperform upper middle class whites. It’s not written in stone that you’re ever so poor you can’t study with your kids or take them to a library and all you can do is watch TV with them, even Obama said that. Wake up. We need to raise expectations. Yes, most poor people have bad habits and divorced, putting their personal life over their children, and many do drugs, think short term, drink, don’t save, and of course had bad habits and attitudes when they were in school, and many pass that bad attitude on to their kids, but schools have stepped in and taughter previously racist kids to not be racist, previously sexist kids to be more gender fair, previously homophobic kids to be accepting, and even advanced health issues such as nonsmoking and anti-bullying. Schools played a primary role in changing society from one generation to the next. Why can’t they convince and help kids whose parents show poor habits and character that the sky is the limit if they behave better than their parents and study harder than their parents? Why not provide them the one on one time their parents won’t bother to provide? It’s more about attitude than poverty. Please stop using it as a scapegoat. It’s really not right.

  7. Don 3 years ago3 years ago

    I should add that the Parent Trigger is vehemently opposed by teacher unions because the idea of parent unions, parent collectivism and the potential it wields for charter takeover of schools is viewed as a direct affront to the power of teaching unions and their control over the terms of employment. Teachers have benefited by their unions.They don't want parents to do the same at their expense and understandably so if the issue … Read More

    I should add that the Parent Trigger is vehemently opposed by teacher unions because the idea of parent unions, parent collectivism and the potential it wields for charter takeover of schools is viewed as a direct affront to the power of teaching unions and their control over the terms of employment. Teachers have benefited by their unions.They don’t want parents to do the same at their expense and understandably so if the issue is viewed through the prism of competing interests. I’m sure many parents don’t buy the idea that teachers interests are paramount to the concerns of parents for their children. If they had more say so in the affairs of schools to begin with, a place at the table, we might not be in this mess. As a founding member of Parents Across America, I don’t doubt that you seek greater access for parents in leadership. How would you redress the complaints of parents?

  8. CarolineSF 3 years ago3 years ago

    For a more thorough history of Parent Revolution and the so-called parent trigger, posted on Diane Ravitch’s blog, Google parent trigger fad that failed. (Posting links on this site is too problematical.)

    The parent trigger was originally created by the charter-school operator Green Dot, with the evident intention of empowering charter operators.

    Replies

    • Don 3 years ago3 years ago

      Caroline, anyone who's ever tried to enlist parents to voice complaints against a school knows how difficult it is and the parent trigger is even more arduous than complainants seeking redress - like removing a principal, for example. Since the Parent Empowerment Act was driven by charter reformists with the ulterior motive to takeover schools, the law was written knowing that PRev would take on the role of community organizer and spearhead the process. The … Read More

      Caroline, anyone who’s ever tried to enlist parents to voice complaints against a school knows how difficult it is and the parent trigger is even more arduous than complainants seeking redress – like removing a principal, for example. Since the Parent Empowerment Act was driven by charter reformists with the ulterior motive to takeover schools, the law was written knowing that PRev would take on the role of community organizer and spearhead the process. The failure of their attempts speaks to the failure of PRev as a legitimate voice for parent interests, not to whether parents have legitimate interests and ought to be able to organize for school change. I think Ravitch is wrong on that count. If a majority of parents can’t look out for the interests of their children and force school change, who will?

      I reread Ravtich’s article as well as your opinion piece in the NY Times. There no doubt that the whole affair stinks of corruption. It is a blight on the charter movement and exposes it unseemly side. But I’m confused. You point out that efforts to date to use the law have been an unmitigated failure, though I’m not sure why failure is the focus. Your position, and correct me if I’m wrong, is that it SHOULD fail because the parent trigger is astroturf designed to benefit charter operators. However, your article implies the failure itself proves its lack of value. That doesn’t make much sense to me. All significant reforms are struggles. Labor unions wouldn’t exist today if early proponents gave up within the first few years. It isn’t that its failed. Your point ought to be that it’s not the way to reform.

      I don’t even know if the parent trigger is viable as written, but I do think it is a potential exercise in democracy that might have some benefits if operators didn’t take advantage of it. Opportunism is nothing new with the law. Getting to the point where the average low-income parent can understand how to enable the community was never going to be a slam dunk.While PRev doesn’t represent the charter movement as a whole, it’s existence is made possible by the frustration of disenfranchised communities that feel they have no other avenues to improve their schools. It may be a pipe dream or a bad dream, but it is dream that many have to see their schools improved.

      • FloydThursby1941 3 years ago3 years ago

        This is true, but the administrators and union were very nonresponsive to parents demanding change before this. I remember my 1st Grader in a class with a teacher who was in her mid 50s, horrible, and missed over 2/3ds of the days. When we asked why she left the previous school we were told that was a personnel matter and we couldn't find out, and when I said it sounded like you wouldn't … Read More

        This is true, but the administrators and union were very nonresponsive to parents demanding change before this. I remember my 1st Grader in a class with a teacher who was in her mid 50s, horrible, and missed over 2/3ds of the days. When we asked why she left the previous school we were told that was a personnel matter and we couldn’t find out, and when I said it sounded like you wouldn’t use that unless you were hiding something, I was told I was supposed to give her the benefit of the doubt and assume there was a legitimate reason even though she was seen in cafes hanging out on days she called in sick. I ended up talking to parents from her previous school and found she was pushed out of there but due to union rules, sent to our school. 22 of 22 parents came to meetings calling for a permanent sub and her to be removed. The union protected her at every turn and she lasted the full year.

        Maybe the trigger law isn’t perfect but the current status quo is stacked in favor of any teacher and against any child. Children are an afterthought according to the union. They dues buy fealty. Not many laws like this are passed due to a fear of losing the donations. Trust me, this new rule didn’t ruin a good or even acceptable situation before it, morally.