Lessons Learned from California: An Effort to Scuttle Parent Trigger

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

An interesting email arrived yesterday from Parent Revolution, the group that
has pushed the Parent Trigger concept in California. Since Parent Trigger has
gained a foothold here, a teachers’ union, using "lessons learned from
California" devised a scheme to stop it elsewhere.

Parent Trigger is a new California law that allows parents
to transform their children’s failing school if 51% of the parents sign a
petition to force the school district to make changes.

The American Federation of Teachers plan came to light when
a 19 page powerpoint
presentation
from the Connecticut branch of the AFT found itself onto the
website Drop
Out Nation
.

Three times in the presentation California’s success in
implementing the Parent Trigger is mentioned. An additional reference is made
to former California state senator Gloria Romero, an advocate for Parent
Trigger. The theme related to California: We
learned from the mistakes made in California that resulted in Parent Trigger
becoming a reality. Here’s how to stop it spreading further.

The AFT took down the presentation from its website after
receiving complaints. The presentation was posted after a July conference in
Washington, DC, part of a panel titled: "Damaging Legislative Proposals
and What You Can Do to Fight Them!"

In pulling down the presentation, AFT indicated that the
tone and use of words was wrong, but that the concept of the work done in
Connecticut was right.

The Connecticut AFT presented the two-part plan to deal with
Parent Trigger:

A.     Kill
the bill in committee. The power point went through the steps on why Plan A was
ultimately unsuccessful in Connecticut.

B.     Engage
the Opposition. Well not really, because the power point acknowledges that not
all who support the Parent Trigger were at the table when a plan for a
committee to work with teachers in poorly performing schools was worked out.

Probably, the most outrageous statement in the presentation
appeared in discussing the creation of the committee called the School
Governance Council. The committee is made up of stakeholders including majority
representation from parents. The Council was given the authority to recommend reconstitution of a school
after three years of poor performance.

But on the next page, the presentation states that the name,
School Governance Council, is a "misnomer." Such committees are "advisory only
and have no governing authority."

The plan is to kill Parent Trigger movements by offering to
set up a committee that has no power to make changes while eliminating the true
power parents have under Parent Trigger. How cynical can you get with parents
who are trying to improve their children’s’ education at struggling schools?

 

The Parent Trigger law was gained in California after a
difficult battle. Forces opposed to it could try to undo the measure or weaken
it here. Supporters of empowering parents to improve California’s schools must
remain ever vigilant.

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