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Parent Trigger Fails Again

“Parents Fail in Bid to Turn California School into a Charter”
by Stephanie Banchero
Wall Street Journal
February 22, 2012

School-district officials in a Southern California town rejected an attempt by parents to convert their low-performing elementary school into a charter school, the second time an effort to use California’s new “Parent Trigger” law has been blocked.

A group of parents of students at Desert Trails Elementary School in Adelanto, Calif., turned in a petition last month that they said had the signatures of nearly 70% of the school’s parents. Under the state’s Parent Trigger law, passed in 2010, parents can force a district to close a school, convert it to a charter-—a public school run by a nongovernment group—or replace the principal and the teachers if at least 50% of the parents sign a petition. Similar legislation was passed in Texas and Mississippi last year and is being considered in other states.

During a school-board meeting Tuesday night in Adelanto, district officials said that 97 parents had withdrawn their signatures because the parents said they were duped into signing the petition or misunderstood its intent. This left the group about a dozen names short of the bar.

The school board, by law, has given the parents 60 days to try to verify the names of at least 50% of the parents at the 650-student school. The parents say they will try again.

The effort in Adelanto was only the second time parents had tried to take advantage of the California law. A petition initiated last year by parents in Compton has been tied up in a lengthy court battle with the school district.

Teachers unions have generally opposed the trigger laws, arguing that troubled schools need more resources rather than sweeping staff changes or closing. Parents leading the Adelanto petition have said that their calls

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AFT Caught In The Act

All the talk about caring about the kids, the parents. Ha. The nation’s second largest teachers union got caught telling members how they really feel about parents’ involvement in the education of their offspring. Someone at the American Federation of Teachers, who wasn’t thinking, posted online an AFT PowerPoint “bragging” about undermining parents’ battling in favor of Connecticut’s attempt at parent-trigger reform.

The notorious PowerPoint, meant for union activists, spewed out lobbying tactics the AFT used against the Connecticut proposal. As the WSJ noted, this document gave us all a peek into “union cynicism and power.” The state’s AFT had a “Plan A” called “Kill Mode,” meant to totally shoot down the bill. It failed. So, the union swung into action with Plan B, “Engage the Opposition.” Meetings were held to work out the bill, but certain groups – like parents who supported the trigger – were not invited to the negotiating table.

Union leaders pumped their political muscle to wring out a parent-trigger law so weak it leaves Connecticut parents twiddling their thumbs rather than pulling any reform trigger. To add insult to injury, the union boasts that rather than depend on parent petitions to turn around a school, school governance councils will be established, but (wink, wink) “they are advisory and do not have true governing authority.”

It comes as no surprise that the PowerPoint was pulled, but not before reform blogger RiShawn Biddle made a copy.

Save the Status Quo, March Against Freedom

By now, you’ve likely heard that the anti-reform establishment will be marching the streets of D.C. this weekend in an effort to “Save Our Schools.” The participating groups want to restore parent and student influence in education.

There’s only one problem with that – they don’t.

The National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers – two unions that have done everything in their power from distorting the truth and lying to intimidation and lawsuits to stop any reform that takes their control and gives it to parents – are driving this rally.

These groups fight charter school openings across the country. For example they are currently stumping against a Mandarin immersion charter in Milburn, New Jersey.

They’ve sued multiple times to stop or delay school choice bills from taking effect. The teachers association now has a lawsuit in Indiana to stop low-income students in failing schools from using a voucher to attend a different school of their parent’s choice.

They are even fighting the “Parent Trigger” law that was passed in California and allows parents to initiate changes to a school, like converting it to a charter, if a majority of parents agree and sign a petition.

It’s the same coalition of the past 35 years that just wants the status quo. Reform to them is about money, control and no high-stakes tests or accountability.

In each case above, and the dozens of ones not mentioned, these groups are eliminating the influence parents and students have, not moving it forward.

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