Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Critiquing Diane Ravitch’s Parent Trigger Critique

Ravitch – surprise! – penned a screed against the Parent Trigger, which fortunately I don't have to rebut because Bruno Behrend does such a nice job of it:

[Sigh]…Diane Ravitch launched another attack on the Parent Trigger. One of America's best known reformers is now an apologist for an overpriced and failing education bureaucracy.

Let's start with this.  California's Parent Trigger is not a perfect law. There is no such thing. That said, it is a powerful tool that empowers parents to enforce real accountability. It does this by forcing school districts to implement real reforms for failing schools (as defined by a state standard).

Opponents like Ms. Ravitch attack the law as "punitive," and rail against its ability to expand of charter schools.  I address most of those critiques in the long post below.

…To read Diane Ravitch's attack on the trigger, go here. My response to her main points is below.

Ravitch: "The Trigger is a 'deceptive scheme'"

Many parents have discovered no "scheme" is more "deceptive" than your typical school district, where a class of superintendents are trained to obfuscate facts, avoid FOIA requests, and generally shield budgets and contract negotiations until after the citizens have no say.

The Parent Trigger is generally an open and accountable process. Regardless of how the petition campaign is run, the signatures must be verified. There is nothing deceptive about it, particularly when compared to the one of the most deceptive government entities of all – the school district.

…Ravitch: "It means if those who use Central Park in Manhattan don't like the way the city of New York takes care of it, they should be able to sign a petition and privatize it."

This is an utterly silly analogy. A city park is not a child's education. You can't force people to go to a badly managed park, yet we force children to attend failing schools.

This kind of analogy, however, does expose Ms. Ravitch's worldview. She protects the system, not the child. It is time to stop caring about districts, systems, unions, bureaucracies, commissions, and the churning of dollars that public education has devolved into.

Trigger laws challenge the failed district system with true accountability. This can only be done by draining the district of funds and students when it fails. If your district schools are good, you have nothing to fear. If they are not good, empower the parents. It's that simple.


Critiquing Diane Ravitch's Parent Trigger Critique

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