Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Parent Empowerment and Randi Weingarten

Ben Austin, Executive Director of Parent Revolution, with a Huff Po column/open letter to Randi:

After journalists and bloggers from around the country reported on the American Federation of Teachers' (AFT) secret plot to kill Parent Trigger, Parent Unions from New York, Connecticut, Texas and our own in California gathered on a conference call this week to demand an apology from AFT's President Randi Weingarten, not only for the tone of the plan, but also for its secret, callous step-by-step approach to disempowering parents.

As a result, just yesterday, Ms. Weingarten posted an apology for the content of the secret plan. We applaud Ms. Weingarten for taking such decisive action to respond to this issue. She took similarly decisive action last year when the president of her California affiliate called the Parent Trigger a "lynch mob" law, and civil rights leaders called for an apology. But Ms. Weingarten's tenure as AFT President consists of far more than just timely apologies. Her presidency is filled with examples of how she has worked to craft solutions to some of the most vexing problems facing public education. I thank Ms. Weingarten for disavowing the secret plan and believe that her apology is more reflective of her track record as AFT President than was the substance of the secret plan

I have always respected Ms. Weingarten's work. At Parent Revolution, we have often praised her both in public and in private, for her willingness to stand up and do the right thing for kids.

…Unfortunately, we cannot march together until AFT stops pretending that parent involvement is the same thing as parent empowerment. While bake sales, field trip supervision, and powerless advisory councils can be nice parent empowerment gives parents real, tangible power over the educational destiny of their children. Involvement is essential, but involvement alone can never rescue millions of children trapped in failing schools across our nation. For that, parents need power.

…The Parent Trigger and the parent empowerment movement are here to stay. Parents are not asking for power. Under Parent Trigger, parents now have it and are not going to give it up. But to create the change we seek for our children, we must ultimately collaborate with the teachers of our children. That's just common sense. We hope the day will soon come when we march together down the path to kids-first transformation. But we can't take that first step together until Ms. Weingarten recognizes the same fundamental rights for parents that she fights to defend every single day on behalf of her teachers.

We appreciate the apology. And we respect Ms. Weingarten's courageous track record. But we don't need apologies. We need power.



Ben Austin

Parent Empowerment and Randi Weingarten

Posted: 8/11/11 02:59 AM ET


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