Last Saturday, parents from all across Los Angeles gathered in Boyle Heights to stand up, stand together, and speak with one voice that the time is now to take back our schools from the special interests and the bureaucrats who benefit from the status quo at the expense of our own children.
We formed the Los Angeles Parents Union to declare our independence from these special interests, and to take back our schools for our parents, our children and our future. Last Saturday, the Parents Union fired the opening salvo in the Parent Revolution because we believe that all children are created equal, and that they are endowed with certain unalienable Rights, and that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The purpose of the Parent Revolution is to secure these rights for every child in Los Angeles.
Even though I live in Benedict Canyon on the Westside — miles away, and in some ways worlds apart, from East Los Angeles – I told the assembled parents in Boyle Heights that I stood with them on that day for one simple reason: my own daughter, Fiona. That’s because what we did on that day, in that neighbourhood, will have ripple effects across geographic boundaries, socioeconomic boundaries, racial and ethnic boundaries and all the other walls that separate us in Los Angeles. By standing together as parents, we will transform schools from Boyle Heights to Benedict Canyon to every school in every neighbourhood across Los Angeles.
Together, we canvassed the neighbourhood surrounding Garfield High School with one simple message: parents have power to take back our schools. This is a revolutionary message, because we’re constantly told that we don’t. We’re told to leave our child’s education and our child’s future to the “experts” — the same experts who preside over a status quo at Garfield High School where less than half our kids graduate and over 90% of our kids don’t go to college.
These so-called experts want us to believe that this is the best we can do. That calling for more parent choice, more accountability, and a lot less bureaucracy is a naive and even crazy agenda. The bureaucrats and the special interests want us to believe that up is down and down is up. These defenders of the status quo who live in an Alice-in-Wonderland un-reality are the real crazy people. Their strategy is to force us to buy into their un-reality, to drag us down that rabbit hole with them — so that we will jettison basic notions of common sense and social justice from our politics. They want us to think twice before we call for a revolution.
We’re told that if we want to get involved, have a bake sale. But last Saturday in Boyle Heights we sent the message that it’s time for the bureaucrats to do the baking for a change. We are going to take back our schools from the special interests and the bureaucrats by telling parents in Boyle Heights the same thing we’re going to tell parents all across Los Angeles: if you are not satisfied with your child’s education, organize half the parents at your school to be a part of the Parent Revolution, and the Parents Union — working with Green Dot Public Schools and other high quality charter school operators — will guarantee you a great school for your child. The same kind of school I’d send my own daughter Fiona to.
It is appropriate that we kicked off the Parent Revolution in conjunction with Barack Obama’s Inaugural Celebration — because his campaign, and everyone who participated in it, embodied that simple but revolutionary notion that each of us matters. Each of us has power. And together we can change the world.
Last Saturday, we took the first step.
For more information or to sign onto the Parent Revolution, go to www.parentrevolution.org.