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Won’t Back Down from Parent Organizing

October 10, 2012

If Teachers Can Organize, Why Can’t Parents? That’s essentially the question that Doreen Diaz, president of the Desert Trails Parent Union, an organization formed to change failing Desert Trails elementary school under California’s parent trigger law, asks in a Washington Examiner column.

The frustrated parent compares the real life efforts of California parents to turn a school around to the movie Won’t Back Down, saying the movie makes union tactics seem tame in comparison.

So of course Doreen Diaz was excited to appear next to AFT President Randi Weingarten during a panel at Education Nation, where she could ask the union leader directly how she could justify the tactics being used to stop the Desert Trails conversion. Diaz:

“On the panel, she told me how she understood my frustration over my daughter’s education and how she shared my goals of giving her a great school. But after the lights and the cameras turned off, she left the stage and sent a tweet deploring the absence of parents who want “real” empowerment at the panel discussion. I had been sitting right next to her for the entire discussion. Her tweet made me feel just like our school district has made me feel for years: invisible.

It is Weingarten’s union that fights hardest against parent trigger laws, despite the fact we are fighting for the same right to organize that her teacher-members enjoy — a right we support.” Read More…

Join the Next Grassroots Revolution in U.S. Education

October 4, 2012

Dear Friends,

I hope you all found time this weekend to go see Won’t Back Down. Now that it is in theaters, parents are seeing the movie and wondering if – and how – they can take control of their child’s education. Lucky for them, our Parent Power Index© can tell them just that.

As I mentioned to you last week, there are powerful anti-reform groups actively working against this movie, including the teachers unions. They fear that old adage that “information is power.” So we’ll double our efforts to make sure parents get the power they need and deserve.

We know firsthand the enormous tasks that parents can accomplish on behalf of their children when given the right tools and information. The Center has since 1993 counseled thousands of parents and activists on how to improve their schools, and with the tools we’ve created they’ve started schools, changed laws, and taken back their communities. And to meet the demands of anyone’s schedule our new Take 5 Minutes and Take Back Your Schools gives actionable tools to anyone wanting to get engaged now.

Thousands have already explored the Parent Power Index© and with your help in spreading the word we can create the next grassroots revolution in American education. So tell your friends and neighbors to visit the Parent Power Index© and become part of the national imperative to secure real, substantive improvement in all schools!

Thank You!

Jeanne Allen

“Parent power” film stirs hopes of education reform activists

by Stephanie Simon
September 28, 2012

Education reform film “Won’t Back Down” opened Friday to terrible reviews – and high hopes from activists who expect the movie to inspire parents everywhere to demand big changes in public schools.

The drama stars Maggie Gyllenhaal as a spirited mother who teams up with a passionate teacher to seize control of their failing neighborhood school, over the opposition of a self-serving teachers union.

Reviewers called it trite and dull, but education reformers on both the left and right have hailed the film as a potential game-changer that could aid their fight to weaken teachers’ unions and inject more competition into public education.

Private foundations, nonprofit advocacy groups and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have pumped more than $2 million into advocacy efforts tied to “Won’t Back Down,” including 30-second ads, promotional bookmarks, websites, private screenings and a six-month, cross-country discussion tour that will keep the film in circulation long after it leaves theaters.

Their goal: To attract new foot soldiers who will help them fight for legislation that allows parents to seize control of local schools, as dramatized in the film; eliminates tenure protections for veteran teachers; and opens the door for more competition to neighborhood schools in the form of charters, which are publicly funded but privately run.

“This movie has the potential to be one of the most transformative vehicles in the history of education reform,” said Ben Austin, a longtime Democratic activist.

Austin now runs Parent Revolution, which promotes “parent trigger” laws allowing parents unhappy with struggling schools to take control, fire teachers and bring in private management.

His organization is holding 35 private screenings of “Won’t Back Down” in states from Georgia to Utah to New York over the next month to rally more parents to the cause. “This movie is telling a story that’s relevant

Read More …

Urgent Reform Update

September 27, 2012

Dear Friends,

I wanted to write to you immediately to share three critical things, and one of particularly timely importance:

Won’t Back Down opens Friday!: It’s been a long road since CER first started talking to and advising the filmmakers of this important and inspiring film, but opening day is finally upon us.  Anti-reform groups are out in full force and want to be able to say after the fact that their hard “work” prevented you from seeing it.  Don’t let them get away with it. I was at the premiere Sunday night at the Zeigfeld Theatre, and the anti-reform folks were shouting at the stars. It’s nice to have Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal on your side in this battle and they think telling the real story about parents and teachers fighting back for their schools is worthy of all the controversy!

Trust me. You won’t want to miss it. Watch the trailer and you’ll see why.

Got Parent Power?:   While I was in New York I was interviewed by Fox & Friends and was able to promote our new, popular Parent Power Index© (PPI) which was released in conjunction with Won’t Back Down so that parents who see the film and are inspired by it have a tool to find out whether they have the same power over their child’s education as the parents and teachers in the movie. We’ve already had thousands of visitors per day. It’s extraordinary. So tell your friends and visit the Parent Power Index© and see how much parent power you have!

NBC’s Education Nation: I joined a host of merry (and not so merry) education watchers, activists and yes, the Blob, for a busy and productive few days at the third annual Education Nation Summit in New York. 

Read More …

Movie Inspires Parent Power Index

CER Press Release
Washington, D.C.
September 17, 2012

Movie Inspires Parent Power Index©
Real Parents Deserve a Hollywood Ending

Many parents seeing the upcoming movie Won’t Back Down will no doubt leave the theater inspired to take up the same fight as the dedicated moms in the film.  But, they may also wonder whether they have the power available to them to make the same kind of change in their children’s education, or if such power is just a Hollywood invention.  Now they can find out with the new Parent Power Index© (PPI) from the Center for Education Reform (CER) which ranks the United States based on how much power parents have over their children’s education.

The PPI is an interactive, web-based tool that – based on an evaluation of state policies – measures the ability in each state of a parent to exercise choices, engage with their local school board, and have a voice in the systems that surround their child. States that ranked the highest offer a high degree of options to parents and engage them more directly in school decisions.

“Parents want and deserve power over their child’s education and most states do a poor job of providing it.” said CER President Jeanne Allen. “The Parent Power Index represents the first time someone has quantified for parents how much power they do or don’t have over their child’s education.  And just as important, PPI educates parents on how to use the power they do have as well as how to get more.  It’s vital information that’s been missing from their arsenal – until now,” Allen continued.

“Parent power in education is not only a matter of public interest, but it’s a matter of public right. It’s also the only thing that is going to fix our educational

Read More …

Parents vs. The Blob

by Jeanne Allen
Highland Community News
September 10, 2012

A parent revolution is underway, and most Americans don’t have a clue it’s happening. That’s because most of us – concerned as we are about the environment, jobs and our own family’s sustainability – think education is someone else’s responsibility. And the self-perceived “owners” of the traditional education system – The Blob – stand in the way of virtually all meaningful education reform and work hard to give you the sense that everything is under control.

But reality has a way of intruding. Parents are waking up to the disturbing reality that they have no influence over where and how their children are educated. With eyes increasingly opened, they seek out others who have similar epiphanies and band together to change things. And then, like something out of a bad movie (cue creepy music) The Blob kicks into gear. The moment these parents gain any traction for real change, they find information that confirms they are not alone and they are off. And then, they are immediately maligned by phony Blob front groups portraying themselves as parent-friendly.

Case in point: As I was sitting at home on a recent Friday night, bracing myself for the week ahead when I’d be dropping my two youngest at college, I decided to tweet my pleasure over Teachers Rock, a solid hour on prime time TV whose star studded cast paid tribute to rank and file teachers. Such teachers move mountains for children and defy the status quo, often at great personal cost. This is illustrated by the upcoming feature film Won’t Back Down, which chronicles the efforts of a parent and teacher to transform their failing school. As it was advertised during the show, parent groups began praising what they saw, only to be attacked, as

Read More …

An Honest Mistake = Slander?

It’s a reflection of the state of the debate today that people immediately jump on a common Twitter mistake with an accusation of slander. In a recent op-ed in which I detailed a lengthy Twitter exchange about the upcoming movie Won’t Back Down, I quoted one of the many tweets assaulting the movie and it’s subject – the parent trigger. I mistakenly attributed the tweet “Shame on you for supporting a movie that sensationalizes locking kids in dark closets as ubiquitous ‘punishment’” to @stephrrivera instead of the actual tweeter @ColumWhyte. Instead of considering that I, like a lot Twitter users, had identified the wrong @username as the original tweeter, I was immediately accused of deliberate deception. Below is the entire exchange. I’ll let the record speak for itself.





Opinion: Schooling Obama

Wall Street Journal
August 30, 2012

Jeanne Allen weighs in on parent power, education reform & the elections on WSJ Opinion Journal.

Polls, Politics and Education

by Jeanne Allen
Huffington Post
August 27, 2012

In politics, poll results are often fleeting, but they are paid much attention as a gauge on public attitudes and often influence how a candidate or leader might tackle a particular issue. With convention season here and all eyes on the presidential candidates, anyone interested in education — and the economy (which should be everyone) — should take heed to view some polls with a grain of salt.

Last week, an annual survey of public attitudes toward the schools was released by the Gallup Organization in partnership with an ivory tower group called Phi Delta Kappa. It provides additional evidence that our task is a daunting one, for despite the popularity and importance of programs that support and advance parental choice and accountability in education, this poll’s findings would have you believe otherwise.

Respondents are questioned without being given critical facts, data, and context, resulting in responses that contradict today’s current climate and demand for reform. For example, while support for scholarships (aka vouchers) increased in this year’s poll, its findings mask the true strength of public support, evidenced by other polls, by using a question that is factually incorrect and contains a built-in bias against such programs. Gallup asked if respondents favor parents being able to choose a private school “at public expense.” But parents who use scholarships to move a child from a public school (failing to meet their needs) to a private school (that will meet those needs) are certainly part of the “public!” They are targeting funds designated to educate their child to a school that will actually do so.

With nearly 6,000 charter schools in existence in 41 states and the District of Columbia, and credited with a competitive push that has finally made school districts begin to address

Read More …

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