Search results for: "trigger"

There is one school in the United States where the “parent trigger” has been used to convert a public school to a charter school: Desert Trails in Adelanto, California.


According to this article in Capital and Main, the new charter is a disaster. Children with special needs are ill-served. Teacher turnover is outrageously high. Teachers buy supplies out of their meager salary.


Among the most serious accusations are charges that administrative chaos at Desert Trails has resulted in both a stampede of exiting teachers and staff; that uncredentialed instructors have taught in its classrooms; and that Desert Trails had an unwritten policy of dissuading parents of students with special learning needs from seeking special education. The teachers also allege that they had to endure a bullying regime in which, they say, they were continually screamed at, spied on, lied to and humiliated in front of parents and their peers by Tarver and her deputies. Capital & Main spoke with the teachers, four of whom agreed to go on the record for this story. (“The High Desert is a small place and Debbie Tarver has a long reach,” said one teacher who requested anonymity.)….


The most telling outward sign that all was not right at Desert Trails, however, may be its startling turnover in administration and teaching staff. During its first year, teachers say, the charter lost a principal (Don Wilkinson) and a director (Ron Griffin) — both before the Christmas break — its vice principal, six classroom teachers and its behavioral specialist. In addition, only nine of Desert Trails’ first-year teacher roster — or 33 percent — are returnees this year. Desert Trails’ charter promises “less than five percent annual employee turnover.” And, teachers say, Desert Trails seems to be running true to form for the 2014-15 year, with four teachers jumping ship as of this writing — including two from the kindergarten level….





Governor Bobby Jindal signed legislation allowing parents in the state-run Recovery School District to vote to return their low-performing school to local control.

“The measure by Baton Rouge Rep. Ted James lets parents petition the state-run RSD to return a school to local control if that school has earned a “D” or “F'” grade from the state for five consecutive years.”

Maybe this legislation will help to puncture the myth of Louisiana’s Recovery School District, the media’s miracle district.

An anonymous comment from an educator poses an important question:

Parent Revolution must be trying to figure out what to do with themselves. Publicly, they can try to positively frame the debate using language such as “parent empowerment” and “parent choice” and “we can’t wait” and “won’t back down” and “kids can’t wait” and “this is a failing school”…but in the end, it’s just a bad idea and a bad policy. Get 50% + 1 of parents to sign a petition, cause disruption, cause parents to protest against each other, cause staff members to feel terrible about their jobs so that they update their resumes and look elsewhere, and let the kids watch as they ask their moms and dads and teachers what the hell is going on. Then, if the trigger is successful, gamble on restarting an entire community and school culture from scratch, and try to recruit people who would want to work in a school that was shot down by the trigger. You might find younger folks who want to teach temporarily, but you’ll destabalize the school, and the teaching profession. Why would any new teacher who wants to teach more than…2 years…want to ever teach in a low income school anymore?

Is this the “courageous leadership” that politicians who support Parent Revolution claim will help students or is this a misguided, short sighted law?

I earlier posted about Steve Zimmer’s resolution proposing a change in the Parent Trigger law to permit full information to parents, both pro and con, before taking a vote that might lead to firing the principal, the staff, or privatizing the school.

An educator in Los Angeles sent the following explanation as to why this change is necessary. Under the law as it stands, Parent Revolution can advocate to make changes, but educators at the school are under a gag order. Parents are allowed to hear only one side of the issue.

Here is why:

“The public needs to know that this law was written and introduced by Ben Austin, head of Parent Revolution. No one should be surprised that the Code of Regulations allows that:

“…..signature gatherers, school site staff or other members of the public may discuss education related improvements hoped to be realized by implementing any intervention described in these regulations.”

However, the following statement attempts to stifle the voices of anyone wanting to discuss not just the “pros” of the related improvements, but also the “cons”.

“(i) School or district resources shall not be used to impede the signature gathering process pursuant to this section.”

Would you say this is a “little” one-sided? Sadly, Parent Revolution descends on a school before anyone can launch a counter campaign. It’s almost as if Parent Revolution is afraid of allowing parents any opportunity to ask questions about the ramifications of signing the petition other than information provided to them by the signature gatherers. With LAUSD sending out a directive to teachers that basically imposed a gag order, it becomes clear that parents have been disrespected as they are never allowed to make an “informed” decision.”

Steve Zimmer proposed the following resolution to the Los Angeles Board of Education. His goal is to make sure that parents are fully informed and protected against stealth campaigns to trick parents into handing their school over to a charter operator or firing the staff.

BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE CITY OF LOS ANGELES Governing Board of the Los Angeles Unified School District

Board Resolutions For Initial Announcement

1. Mr. Zimmer – Comprehensive Information for Parent Initiated School Transformation (For Action June 18, 2013, 12 p.m.)

Whereas, The Governing Board of the Los Angeles Unified School District recognizes the essential role of parents and legal guardians in every aspect of their child’s public education and in the successful transformation of schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District;
Whereas, California State Education Code 53300-53303 (The Parent Empowerment Act) allows for parents at persistently lowest achieving schools to trigger options for school transformation if over 50% of parents or legal guardians at a campus sign a petition calling for the implementation of one of four interventions;

Whereas, California State Education Code 53300-53303 only allows parents and legal guardians who sign the petition to vote for the selected transformation model;

Whereas, California State Education Code 53300-53303 does not currently require public meetings or other mechanisms to ensure accurate and balanced information about school performance or transformation options be provided to all stakeholders during the petition process;

Whereas, Two District elementary schools have been transformed through this process in the 2013-14 school year and the Board assumes there will be several attempts to transform District schools in the 2014-15 school year;

Whereas, Very limited information about the school and monitoring of the signature gathering process was presented to the Board for 24th Street and Weigand Avenue Elementary Schools;


333 South Beaudry Avenue, Board Room 9:00 a.m., Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Public Comments on Items to be Discussed at This Meeting

The public can address the Board at the commencement of the meeting in the Board Room on any item that is described in this notice or other issues under the purview of the Board of Education. At the conclusion of the closed session portion of the meeting, announcements required regarding actions taken by the Board of Education will be made in the Board Room.

Bd. of Ed. Regular Board (CS) Meeting – 1 – Order of Business, 9:00 a.m., 06-18-132.

Whereas, The Board has not adopted specific policies and guidelines for receiving petitions and validating the transformation process; and

Whereas, The Superintendent has not issued clear guidelines for principals and school site personnel regarding protocols and operational procedures for each stage of the parent trigger process; now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Governing Board of the Los Angeles Unified School District directs the Office of General Counsel and the Superintendent to submit the following information to the Board for each future transformation petition that is presented to the Board:

1. Independent verification of the signatures and the signature gathering process

2. Evidence of public notice and a summary of information presented at a public meeting held in the school community detailing accurate information about the school and the
available options for transformation

3. An analysis of five years of school data

4. A summary of interventions attempted at the school site and an analysis the success or failure of these attempted interventions

5. An analysis of school report card data and/or school climate survey data;

Resolved further, That the Superintendent bring guidelines and operational procedures for school site personnel to use during parent trigger processes for review by the Board at the first scheduled business meeting of the 2013-14 school year; and, be it finally

Resolved, That the Board urges the Superintendent and Office of Government Relations staff to seek legislative changes to California State Education Code 53300-53303 that will better serve all parents and legal guardians in the transformation process. These changes should include, but not be limited to:

1. Provisions that ensure all parents and legal guardians (not solely those who sign the petition) be allowed meaningful participation in all aspects of the transformation process and vote on the transformation option;

2. Provisions that ensure accurate and independently verifiable information about school performance and transformation options that are available to all parents; and

3. Provisions that safeguard against manipulation of families in the process and validate training of all Parent Empowerment Act signature gatherers.

The Los Angeles Times is not at all pleased with the way the so-called “parent trigger” is working out. The editorial board wants a more open, transparent process.

The editorial does not point out that only one organization has pushed the idea that parents should seize control of a public institution. “Parent Revolution”–funded by billionaires–wrote the law, sends paid community organizers to gather parent signatures, and litigates to push its goals without full information to parents who don’t want to privatize their school or fire their principal or teachers.

The legislature should not tinker with this bad law. It should repeal it. The public schools belong to the community, not to those who may not even be parents next year in the same school.

It has been three years since the passage of “parent trigger” legislation in California, and the law has produced nothing but strife among parents, teachers, and administrators. Corporate reformers backed by billionaires like to say that “kids can’t wait,” but the hostile “trigger” creates strife and the illusion of change, not better schools.

Good schools have a strong collaborative spirit among administrators, teachers, parents, and students. All work together towards a common goal of educating the children. Whatever strengthens the spirit of teamwork strengthens the school and builds its capacity.

The “parent trigger” by definition is a hostile act. It creates division and conflict. It sets parents against parents. It sets parents against teachers. It sets parents against administrators. It is a “trigger” and triggers kill.

In the latest “victory” for Parent Revolution, the organization that has received millions from the Walton, Gates, and Broad Foundations, the principal of Wiegand Elementary School in Los Angeles was ousted. Now parents are holding counter-demonstrations, and accusations are flying.

It is noteworthy that when Parent Revolution tried and failed to convert McKinley Elementary School in Compton, California, to a charter, the charter opened nearby, but few of the McKinley parents transferred their children to it. Parent Revolution’s only “success” thus far was in Adelanto, where they gathered enough signatures to convert Desert Trails Elementary to a charter; when parents tried to remove their signatures from the petition, saying they had been duped, a judge denied them the right to do so. One of the parent leaders in Adelanto is now an employee of Parent Revolution. Many of those who signed the petition no longer have children in the school.

The legislature should scrap this pernicious law. To begin with, public schools don’t belong to the parents of children now enrolled. They belong to the public, whose taxes built them and maintain them. Only duly elected and appointed officials should be empowered to privatize public property or to fire the school’s leader. The law as presently written is vigilante justice, which is seldom just. It allows Parent Revolution to sign parents up through deceitful tactics and force changes that cripple school communities. It is no accident that the “trigger” idea has been embraced by the reactionary group ALEC, which would like to eliminate public education altogether.

A parent who supported Parent Revolution’s efforts to turn his school into a charter says the organization promised to pay him. He says he and other parent activists were sent around the country to promote the movie “Won’t Back Down,” which flopped at the box office. One parent leader in Adelanto was hired to work for the billionaire-funded faux-grassroots group.

Be sure to read the comments.

Please join this important discussion about the corporate attempt to trick parents into handing their public schools over to private corporations:

The Parent Trigger from California to Florida

Sunday, May 26, 2013 from 12:30 PM to 1:30 PM Pacific Time

We will be hearing from Lori Yuan, a parent in Adelanto who fought the Parent Trigger at her school, and Parents Across America Founding Member Rita Solnet who, along with other organizations, defeated the Parent Trigger bill in the Florida State Senate on March 9, 2013.

To reserve your ticket, go to eventbrite.

This event is free.

This event is organized by Parents Across America.

Just hours after the defeat of parent trigger legislation, some of its advocates moved key portions into another bill.

In this case, this provision was salvaged:

“A bill focused on charter schools (HB 7009) was amended Tuesday afternoon. It now requires that children in classes taught by teachers with an “unsatisfactory” or “needs improvement” ratings during the current school year could not be taught by similar teachers in the same subject next year.”

Sounds reasonable except that the state’s evaluation system is ineffective.

Never say die, especially if there is a chance at harassing public school teachers.

More of the “punish don’t support” theory.


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