Tuesday, August 16, 2011

More on AFT "Kill" Parent Trigger

The AFT's "Kill" the Parent Trigger slide presentation controversy hasn't gone away, despite Randi's best efforts to disavow it. Powerful letters from the author of the first Parent Trigger law in the country, Gloria Romero (now head of DFER-CA), and Ben Austin of Parent Revolution, were sent both demanding meetings with Randi.  It'll be interesting to hear her response…  (Gwen Samuel, Co-Founder and Chairperson of the State of Black CT Alliance (SBCTA), has been doing great posts on her Facebook page (www.facebook.com/gwen.samuel?sk=wall) and has also demanded a meeting with Randi, which apparently Randi has agreed to.)


Here's a press release that accompanied Parent Revolution's letter:

Today, parent advocacy group, Parent Revolution, sent an open letter to AFT President Randi Weingarten requesting a meeting and demanding an apology for the recently revealed secret plot to "kill" Parent Trigger.

In the letter, Parent Revolution Executive Director, Ben Austin, requests an open "dialogue" with AFT, and demands an apology for more than the tone of the PowerPoint but for the document itself:


"I am...writing to respectfully request an apology.  Declaring that you regret the tone but stand behind the substance of a secret strategy detailing how to "kill" Parent Trigger is not an apology.  As you know, the substance of your plan includes ensuring that parents are "not at the table" when real decisions are made, and creating fake "governance" committees that trick parents into thinking they have power when they actually do not."

Mr. Austin also notes the repeated attempts of Parent Revolution to meet with Ms. Weingarten and the belief of Parent Revolution that parents and teachers must work together to improve education for all kids:


"You seem to view parent empowerment as a zero-sum game: if parents win, teachers must lose.  We see it differently: if parents win, it helps not only their children, but also the millions of hardworking, dedicated, effective teachers who go above and beyond every single day to help our children succeed."


This letter follows last week's revelation of a secret 19-slide PowerPoint on "How Connecticut Diffused (sic) the Parent Trigger" that defeated parent empowerment by out-maneuvering a grassroots movement of primarily Black mothers in Connecticut and the Black and Puerto Rican legislative caucus from getting a Parent Trigger in their own state.  It even included one slide titled "Plan A: Kill Mode." 


Here's a statement from Parent Revolution:

Today, the Wall Street Journal reported on AFT's secret 19-page strategy to "kill" Parent Trigger, and to disenfranchise a grassroots movement of mostly African-American moms in Connecticut fighting for a better future for their children.  As the Journal describes, the strategy document outlines their step-by-step tactics for stopping Parent Trigger, all of which hinge on two key strategies:

·         Making sure parents were shut out of any and all negotiations 

·         Trick parents into signing onto proposals that pretend to give parents power but in reality don't


As the Journal describes, the secret document outlines their step-by-step plan for stopping Parent Trigger, either through "Plan A" (called "KILL Mode") or with "Plan B" (cutting backroom deals with legislators to water down the bill into a meaningless measure).  They brag that the key elements to their anti-Parent Trigger lobbying efforts were shutting parent groups out from the negotiations entirely, using their vastly superior lobbying muscle and campaign contributions to simply overpower grassroots parent groups and cut backroom deals; and placating parents by tricking them into believing they have power when they actually don't.

As you know, Parent Revolution strongly supports collective bargaining rights for teachers and believes that parents and teachers must work together toward a better education for all kids, which is part of what makes this document so disheartening.  Parent Revolution has supported AFT on multiple occasions as they have negotiated contracts that are good for kids in districts across the country.  And parents stood with teachers in the streets of Madison and elsewhere as they fought reactionary efforts to strip away their power to organize.  But when parents stand up and fight for that same right - the right to transform their children's failing schools through organizing - AFT used their underhanded tactics and raw power to shut them down.  

Not once does the document talk about the real victims: Connecticut kids that are stuck in school that have failed their communities for generations. As one of the biggest campaign contributors in America, AFT instead brags about taking callous and calculated steps to shut down a grassroots movement of mostly African-American moms fighting for their kids. 

As we did before, we stand with the parents in Connecticut and those across the nation fighting for a great education for their kids and the right to have a real say in their kids' and their communities' futures. It's clear that AFT sees parent power as a real movement around the country - unfortunately, they see parents as a threat that must be stopped rather than a partner to embrace.

And while this document highlights that passing this historic right for parents will never be easy, the movement is only growing. Since Connecticut, parents have fought for and succeeded in passing Parent Triggers in Mississippi and Texas and the parents in California defended the Parent Trigger against repeal, and passed empowering state regulations just last month. This secret plan is shocking and disturbing, but it will not slow the burgeoning parent power movement to give kids the great education they deserve.

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