Friday, September 30, 2011

‘Parent Trigger’ Law to Reform Schools Faces Challenges

Here's a NYT article about CA's Parent Trigger law, which I continue to believe can be an ENORMOUSLY powerful tool to bring about needed change.  The idea is spreading – it's very difficult for any politician to oppose empowering parents at chronically failing schools – so all reformers should be thinking about how to bring it to their state (for more info, contact one of the primary architects of CA's law, Ben Austin (, who currently heads Parent Revolution; I met him this week and he is truly an ed warrior!):

The promise sounded alluring and simple: if enough parents signed a petition, their children's struggling school would be shut down and replaced with a charter school.

So, using a new state law known as the parent trigger, organizers at an underperforming school here in Compton collected hundreds of signatures from parents who said they were fed up. Parents were eager, they said, to turn it into a charter school, where students would spend more time in class with a staff of new teachers.

After months of legal battles, the status of that petition remains tied up in court. But in the meantime, a new charter school has opened just blocks from the struggling school, and parents at more than a dozen other schools in California are hoping to take advantage of the trigger law, demanding that their schools radically improve.

In essence, the law creates a parents' union, which advocates say will provide powerful and needed counterweight to teachers' unions and district bureaucracies. If 51 percent of parents in a persistently failing school sign a petition, they can force the school to change into a charter, close it entirely or replace the principal and teachers.

Similar legislation has passed in Texas, Ohio and Connecticut and is being considered in nearly a dozen more states — but California, the earliest adopter, is furthest along. And with opponents and skeptics arguing that parents lack the expertise to make important policy decisions better left to career educators, the Compton case is a prime example of how challenging it can be to create change. 

Here are a friend's comments on this article:


"It basically says there is nothing else a school system can do but say, 'We give up on this school,' " Ms. Weingarten said. "Ultimately, parents should be involved in fixing the school, and nobody should wait until after it fails to give them a voice."


Education is a service provided to the community and is funded by mandatory property taxes. The parent/student is the consumer of the service. If the service is defective why should parents be responsible for fixing it. If the garbage collectors don't do their job is it my responsibility to take it to the dump. What about if the fire and police services don't work? Am I supposed to go drive the fire truck and police car myself? If I buy a defective product is it my responsibility to fix it. Of course not. These parents are poor, uneducated and struggling. How cruel and heartless can Randi be to say that "Ultimately, parents should be involved in fixing the school". they don't know how and don't have the time. Randi is the education genius, why don't her own members who are paid by mandatory taxes fix it.


Someone should sue her for negligence in producing a defective product which results in ruined lives and a more dangerous society.


'Parent Trigger' Law to Reform Schools Faces Challenges

Monica Almeida/The New York Times

Students lining up for recess at a Celerity Sirius Charter School in Compton, Calif., at the site of a public school closed because of low enrollment.

Published: September 23, 2011

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