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Newswire: November 15, 2011

Vol. 13, No. 44

REVOLUTION’S REVELATION. Compton will forever be synonymous with its struggle to initiate a parent-trigger against all odds. But from the ashes rises a new way to ensure parents’ voices are heard. Parent Revolution, the group that inspired parents to trigger a takeover in their failing school, is now helping to inform and organize scads more parent groups to take power over their neighborhood schools. While they are predominantly in California, they will answer the call from states near and far. Parents who want to make serious changes in their schools — be they leadership driven or complete restructuring– would do well to make contact (http://parentrevolution.org/; Los Angeles Parents Union, 315 W. 9th Street, Suite 1000, Los Angeles, California, 90015; Phone (213) 621-3052; Email: info@parentsunion.org)

DINOSAUR. Will Parent Revolution take a call from Buffalo, New York? Parents there are fed up with chronically failing schools and getting more vocal about it. Rather than address their concerns, the Teachers Union leader Phil Rumore actually screamed at parents at the PTA meeting when pushed about doing something, saying he was offended about their view that the union only cares about contracts. Of course, having held that top union job for 30 years and cutting more backroom deals than anyone wants to know would make one think that. In response one parent shouted back at Rumore: “You’re willing to allow us to have another year of failing schools. . . And so now, just like you’re offended, we’re offended.” These kinds of exchanges are precisely what girds the loins of parents who are pushing choice from coast to coast, like in Pennsylvania where,

. . . PARENTS CONTINUE TO RALLY FOR CHANGE. Just today, parents from around Pennsylvania gathered in Harrisburg to support school choice and applaud the Senate’s approval of a bill, SB 1, which would give parents in failing schools a direct line out, with scholarships to pay for private schools. “We are empowering parents to make sure they have the right to make the best choice for their children and make sure that every child has the right to a good education,” said Otto V. Banks, head of the Road to Educational Achievement Through Choice (REACH). Parent empowerment is the word heard nationwide, including at the polling booth. In New Jersey last week, despite the teachers’ union withholding endorsements for Democrats who sided with Governor Christie on increasing teacher contribution to pension and health benefit plans, citizens voted to return those Democrats to Trenton. Change – and choice – are in the air.

BUT THE FEDS IF LEFT UNCHECKED MAY PLUNDER PARENT POWER. Taking to task the unlikely alliance of the tea party and the teachers union over a NCLB re-write, BAEO chair and CER Board member Kevin Chavous, took to the pages of the Wall Street Journal today to caution those who are asking for no federal strings on accountability in spending. “These strange bedfellows have teamed up to push for turning teacher-evaluation standards over to the states—in other words, to turn back the clock on educational accountability.”

The leading Senate bill removes “the requirement that states set annual goals tied to the academic performance of children—indeed it sets not a single goal or guideline for academic performance. Instead, it has vague provisions about bullying and parent engagement. These provisions are fine on their own, but are they appropriate in our most important education law that otherwise makes no mention of academic standards?

Teacher accountability and parent choice are the most important aspects of any education reform legislation. They are critical to determining what success should look like and to creating a mechanism for remediation when those standards aren’t met. There is not nearly enough within this new bill to ensure that schools are made to answer for their performance. Nor is there enough to ensure that parents have the ability to protest a failing school with their feet.”

Chavous is not alone. Over two dozen organizations — from civil rights-focused, to business to pure education reform — have protested Congressional pandering to new and old interest groups. It has got to stop.

TEACHER AS APP or NEWSPAPER NONSENSE? That’s the real question for thinking people who understand that global education requires digital solutions as part of the portfolio necessary for real change. Not all get it. But it’s not easy to understand, and the notion that a student can learn from a teacher who is NOT in the classroom defies even the smartest among us… that is, until it is seen or experienced. Get Smart on online learning. Leading Education pundit Tom VanderArk tells us what is really happening in virtual learning.