Shirley Ford, a Los Angeles mother who co-founded Parent Revolution, the organization that helped pass California’s landmark “parent trigger” law — legislation that gives parents of students at low-performing schools the right to replace a school’s leadership or switch it to charter status — died Sunday at the age of 69.
Ford was a leader in the state and national movements for high-quality schools for low-income communities. Ford’s two sons attended Animo Inglewood Charter High School and she initially became an activist to support Green Dot Public Schools, the charter network that manages the school.
“There are advocates all over the country that carry her spirit and her mission with them,” said Seth Litt, executive director of Parent Revolution, in remarks on Twitter. “She worked nationally to help other underserved families find their voices.”
Ford led community outreach efforts for Parent Revolution, an organization that helps parents in underserved communities understand their school options. One of those efforts included supporting parents who sought new leadership at Los Angeles’ 20th Street Elementary School. The Partnership for Los Angeles Schools took over the school in 2016. Parent Revolution was founded in 2008 and the parent trigger law was passed in 2010.
Ben Austin, who co-founded Parent Revolution, called Ford “a courageous advocate” for children.
“She is survived by thousands of children who will never know her name but whose life trajectory will forever be changed because of Shirley’s courage, passion, and love,” said Austin, who now heads Kids Coalition, a Los Angeles-based school improvement organization.
In comments on Twitter, Nick Melvoin, a member of the Los Angeles Unified school board, also praised Ford, calling her a “tireless advocate for the rights of all kids to have educational opportunities.”
Ford also served on the board of Speak UP, a parent advocacy group. Katie Braude, executive director of Speak Up, said in a statement to the news media: “She was a tireless advocate for the educational rights of our city’s most underserved children and a champion of true parent power.”
Marshall Tuck, a former Green Dot executive who is running for the post of state superintendent of public instruction, has also praised Ford. In an interview last year, he said Ford helped him strengthen the charter organization’s schools.
In comments on Twitter, Tenicka Boyd, national director of an education reform group called the Leaders of Color Initiative, called Ford a “true champion and education reform pioneer.”