5) A very important and powerful development in CA – a potentially radical precedent was set in West Athens, CA last week as a parent union bargained with the LAUSD much as would any other powerful union. Instead of waiting for the parent union to use the parent trigger, the district proactively engaged with the parents in serious negotiations so they didn't have to. Here's Ben Austin, the founder of Parent Revolution:
Last week was an important moment in the Parent Power movement.
On Friday, LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy came to West Athens Elementary School in South LA to sign a groundbreaking Partnership Agreement with the leadership of the West Athens Parents Union, called the "Aguilas de West Athens" (AWA) – all without the parents having to gather a single Parent Trigger petition.
This negotiated Partnership Agreement is the result of collaboration and cooperation on the part of both the school district and parents. It invests $300,000 in new staffing positions (including a school psychologist and psychiatric social worker) to address issues of school climate and student safety; increases focus on Common Core implementation and professional development for teachers; and commits to strengthening parent voice and parent power in the school over the coming year.
There has been a ton of good media coverage (which you can read on our blog here), but we thought you might be most interested in hearing directly from the parents themselves who have led this effort. Below is a short video from Winter Hall, one of the parent leaders from West Athens, sharing her story about why she got involved and how the Parents Union was able to win these changes for their kids:
The efforts at West Athens are an important barometer of where the idea and the movement behind parent trigger are heading in California. As more and more districts come to terms with the political power and moral authority that organized parents now possess, we will continue to see more and more proof points of parents able to use their power to create "kids first" reforms at their school, regardless of whether or not they actually use the law to "trigger" the change.
Thank you again for your support. We will continue to keep you updated on everything happening at West Athens Elementary and elsewhere.
Here's Conor Williams with more on this important story (full article below):
Recently, a group of parents at South Los Angeles' West Athens Elementary School showed another way to use the law. Families concerned about persistent bullying and what they saw as an unsafe school environment recently formed a parents union — the "Aguilas de West Athens" (Eagles of West Athens). Lerina Cordero, a parent at West Athens, told LA School Report that parents had been pushing for changes for years, but "it wasn't until we said we were going to use the Parent Trigger law, that the principal finally sat down to meet with us."
Once the school realized that the parents were considering that option, the doors opened. The ensuing discussions culminated in a public ceremony last Friday: LA Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy visited West Athens Elementary to sign an agreement committing the school and district to a series of actions aimed at improving Common Core implementation, school culture, and school safety.
…Perhaps the parents in West Athens are illustrating the way the parent trigger should really work: it gives parents more leverage than moral outrage when it comes to improving their children's schools, but it also gives administrators, teachers, and districts a chance to take their concerns seriously. If so, that would be a Very Good Thing.