Archives for category: Parent trigger

The forces advocating privatization of public schools are well-funded and relentless. They cloak their goals in high-flown rhetoric about “saving kids from failing schools.” Or they cynically claim the mantle of the civil rights movement as they seek to disrupt communities and replace public control with private ownership. As the public gets wise, resistance grows.

This comment came from a reader:

I have been researching this whole privitatization of public services since Parent Revolution has targeted my school. Ben and his like are interested in taking publuc services like schools and even libraries to privateers. Always promoted as being able to provide better services. With dwindling tax dollars public entities can unburden themselves of unions, costly health care, and underfunded pensions. Under eleaborate PR campaigns boards and councils are sold on the ideas.

Next, is to convince the public needing the services. The gray area of being ethical is where the privateers work in. Their campaign is well groomed. A student looked at the Parent Revolution web site. He said ( a 5th grader) that it was well written to appeal to parents. Just what parents would want to hear. He researched those opposed to PR and found explicit examples of not doing what they promised. He said “bait and switch”.

Privitization is just another way for the 1% of America to mine new monies for profit to line their pockets. Their desire to help students is only if there is profit to be made. Besides if things don’t work out well and these kids hit the street being undesirables there are privitized psychiatric hospitals and private prisons these people can be warehoused with tax dollars and at a profit.

Parent Chrissy Guzman-Alvarado is a parent  at Desert Trails Elementary School in Adelanto, California. This is the school–the only school in California–where the billionaire-funded “Parent Revolution” has been able to wheedle enough parents to sign petitions to close the school and hand it over to a charter school. When some parents who had put their names on the Parent Revolution petition asked to withdraw their signatures, the organization went to court and won a ruling that signing a petition was like an election and they couldn’t rescind their signature. When the court battles ended, only 53 parents in the school of more than 600 students voted to choose a charter school. Guzman was one of the parents who opposed the takeover and closure of her children’s neighborhood school. This is Guzman’s description of the last graduation day at Desert Trails Elementary School:

How the Trigger Left Our Community

It was a beautiful Thursday morning in Adelanto, CA.  Sixth graders were dressed in their Sunday best, parents were lined up with balloons and everyone was preparing for a wonderful ceremony.  So why was there a table set up across the street for recruiting parents to the new charter school?  This was a sixth grade promotion…  All students would be transferring to junior high.  Why the need to harass parents on such a special day?  Desperation? Harassment?  Lack of a Spine?

 

This is just one of the several times we have had to endure harassment from the people who have been hired to take over our school.  Desert Trails Elementary was home to thousands of families, some having been there for several years, some arriving as early as this month.  Today these families watched their students cry their eyes out and mourn loss of their second family – the teachers, staff, principal and even parent volunteers of Desert Trails Elementary.  I was fortunate enough to share this day and many others, filled with great memories, with these families and am truly thankful for the time I spent there.

 

I can say this about the DTE family – they are loved by thousands, probably tens of thousands, of students and their families.  Grateful for what they have done for them.  For attending those Wednesday night Little League baseball games, or private tutoring them on their own time, for working with them until they have gone from a second grade reading level to fourth grade reading level – in less than a year.  These are just a few of the many, many things these families will remember.

 

What they won’t remember is how Desert Trails Prepatory Academy set up a table across the street from the sixth graders promotion ceremony, right under the No Stopping Any Time sign.  They may have not even noticed how when confronted with how low and pathetic a parent felt they were for disrespecting the ceremony they smiled and waved back at that parent.  They will definitely not remember how they stopped parents exiting the parking lot to force a flyer on them or how they remained there until long after the last student had left for the school day.  They won’t think twice about the parents who Parent Revolution used to pull the Trigger and how most of them have been long gone.

 

What I will remember… the RIP Desert Trails Elementary 1995-2012 written in chalk in the quad… The many, many I will miss you’s that were said that day.  The kids chanting Once a Coyote, Always a Coyote. Most of all, I think I will remember standing in the driveway waving to the last few students driving off – looking back at their school with swollen red eyes and tears streaming down their cheeks knowing they will never see their DTE family again.

 

Chrissy Guzman-Alvarado

 

 

Brief biography:  I am a parent who was concerned for the well-being of our community and school when Parent Revolution brought in their organizers in 2011.  After doing much research on the funders, Ben Austin and the previous trigger, I started speaking up against them.  After a few days, more and more parents came up to me and wanted to know more.  After meeting with several parents I learned I was correct in speaking against pRev.  I continued with my fight against them, collecting rescissions and getting parents to speak up.  Unfortunately, we lost in court.  We did the only thing we could – moved forward with our children’s school year and let the lawyers and politics work themselves out.  I was voted PTA President this last school year and ran Desert Trails Elementary’s Journalism Club.  I was on campus, almost daily, since 2008 and have been extremely involved at the school.

Thank you for your time.  I hope this helps others realize the real impact it had on us.  
Thank you again. 

Chrissy Guzman-Alvarado

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.

A reader who attended the recent Los Angeles school board meeting noticed the effort by a board member to prevent Warren Fletcher, president of the United Teachers of Los Angeles, from speaking. The sequence is fascinating and well worth reading (and watching).

 

If you really want to see, in action, Board Member Tamar Galatzan’s (and also Board Member Monica Garcia’s) animus towards teachers’ unions, go to:

lausd.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?clip_id=58

BACKGROUND: the rules and etiquette at LAUSD board meetings has always been to allow the UTLA President to speak on an issue without a speaker card, after the 7 public commenters have finished. Well, this precedent was almost broken at this meeting… almost.

Keep that in mind when you watch this at:

07:30:00

UTLA President Warren Fletcher, always eloquent, knowlegable, and articulate, approaches the mic to talk and Galatzan tries to silence him, and move on to the next phase where Board Members then comment.

Galatzan, who has taken over as presiding chair, is stopped by Fletcher, who asks for his customary time to speak. Incredibly, Galatzan snaps at him, “You do not have a speaker card.” (Mind you, he represents over 35,000 teachers and other educators)

Fletcher: “Excuse me. May I – ”

Galatzan: “Hold on one second. Hold on one second. Seven speakers… you do not have a speaker card.”

Fletcher: “Excuse me. I – ”

Galatzan looks away dismissively from Fletcher, and addresses the other Board members.

Galatzan: (turns away) “Okay, umm, thank you. Questions and comments?”

People in the crowd start shouting objections to Galatzan, and Galatzan responds with condescension.

Galatzan: “I’m sorry. The rules is that we have seven speakers. We’ve heard seven speakers.”
—(fixing her eyes on Fletcher)
“Now, we’re done with Public Comment period. There’s now – ”

The crowd then erupts with shouts “Let him speak!!!”

Galatzan: “There’s now time for the Board Members to comment if they should desire. Do any of my colleagues on the board have any questions of comments on Number 45?”

More objections shouted from the crowd.

Veteran Board member Margueritte Lamotte then chimes in an exasperated tone.

LaMotte: “Can we have not ask for permission for the president to speak?”

The crowd grows louder.

Galatzan: (irritatated, but gives in) “Oh. Go ahead.”

The crowd applauds.

Fletcher: “Thank you, Madame Chair.”

He then proceeds to give Zimmer a run for his money in the speech-making department. Fletcher doesn’t attack Parent Revolution, or anyone from Parent Revolution personally. Wisely, he attacks the law itself, saying correctly that “it guarantees bad outcomes.. ”

Fletcher continues: ” … because this law is built on the premise is that the only way that a school can be improved is when one group of stakeholders starts blaming another group of stakeholders. It is a law based on the idea that we can improve schools by scapegoating… and it is a law that is based on the belief that the only way we can have progress in a school community is if we divide the school in to ‘us’ and ‘them.’ As a 29-year teacher in this district, I can tell you that the parents in this district are being presented with a cruel hoax by this law.

“It is a mechanism to turn ‘hope’ into ‘hate’, and that law is a legal framework to set people against each other. I, as President of UTLA, am proud to say that we reach out to parents, and we set up meetings with parents, and as soon as Parent Trigger is mentioned, suddenly UTLA cannot even get a Civic Center permit. Suddenly, UTLA runs into legal obstacle after legal obstacle. What we are doing is playing ‘adult conflict games,’ and we are fiddling while Rome burns!

“It is important that this school board, and the senior administration and the superintendent of this district obey the law, but it is also important that a framework is developed like in Mr. Zimmer’s motion that this law does not sow hatred, and does not debilitate school communities. To this point, the senior leadership of this district has been, I think, unready to take on the fact that we in Los Angeles bringing groups together, bringing parents, teachers and students and the community and everyone together, and end this sowing of hate!”

… and on he goes.

Watch and listen to Fletcher passionately and brilliantly lay out the truth about this situation, and you’ll see why the corporate-funded, pro-privatization Galatzan fought so hard to keep him speaking.

This is testimony delivered by a parent to the Los Angeles school board, as they debated whether to create new rules governing the “parent trigger” takeover process. She asked the school board to guarantee a fair process that protects parents against manipulation and exploitation.

This is what she said:

 

Hello,

 

My name is Raquel Cedillo and I am a parent of 3 students currently enrolled at Haddon Elementary.   I am here to ask that you please set forth guidelines in regards to the Parent Trigger Law and how  organizations such as Parent Revolution collect signatures.

At Haddon Elementary, parents have been misled and lied to.  Representatives from the parent union went door to door asking parents to sign their petition. Parents were told it was to better the school and  every student would get a lap top.  Parents were also told that all the teachers and the principal were supporting this change.  I know this because this is what I was told when they came knocking on my door.  They came three times in one week trying to convince my mother to get me to sign the petition.  They were persistent.   Is this how they obtained most of their signatures? Pressuring parents? Some parents did not realize by signing this petition, they were signing to change our school to a charter.  Parents were not given all the facts!

At 24th street and Weigand Elementary, were parents given all the facts? Was there a public meeting informing all parents about the Parent Trigger law and what was happening at their school? The answer is NO.  In Adelanto, Parent Revolution had two petitions circulating, one asking for school reform and another asking to change the school to Charter.  Parents didn’t know which was going to be used until it was too late and the petition was submitted to the District.  So basically, Parent Revolution is asking for parents to sign a blank check and cross their fingers and hope for the best….is that true parent empowerment?  NO it’s not.  Parents have the right to hear from both sides about what is going on, so they can get the facts and be able to make an educated choice, and parents need a public place in which to do this like at the school.

Parent Revolution has been involved in our school for over two and a half years.  This is the longest by far a school has been involved in a parent trigger campaign.  Adelanto, 24th Street and Weigand were changed rather quickly.  I was once asked by David Goldberg, CTA Director, “What is the difference with Haddon?”  Well the difference is Haddon’s parent involvement.  Haddon has a core group of parents who have taken it upon themselves to inform parents about what is going on at our school.  Parents have passed out fliers, talked with other parents and even had rallies to inform parents about these petitions and not to sign them before knowing all the facts.  This is true parent empowerment Involving ALL parents in making choices pertaining to their children’s school.

Over the last two and a half years Haddon parents have had to put up with so much from Parent Revolution and its organizers.  Haddon has two Parent Revolution organizers who attend almost every school meeting/function.   These organizers are NOT parents or even community members.  These organizers are the masters and Haddon’s parent union are the puppets.  At these school meetings such as SSC or coffee with the principal, parent union parents do not ask questions or make any move without these two organizers telling them what to do or what to say.  Some of these members of the parent union do not even have students who attend Haddon.  So how are they a part of the parent union? Are these the same parents collecting signatures, under false representation as parents of Haddon?   Who verifies how these signatures are collected? Who verifies what was said to parents while collecting signatures? Where were these signatures collected?  Some parents informed me they were asked to sign a petition when leaving a grocery store, while walking through the neighborhood, on the school campus, in front of the school, or at church.  Is this how Parent Revolution conducts business? Catching people off guard?  Parents were not given all the facts when asked to sign these petitions.  I have some parents who said they signed without really understanding what this petition really meant.  There are parents who now want to rescind their signatures after getting all the facts and now understanding what this petition can do to their school.  How is this process handled? Parents want to rescind their signatures before it’s too late.  This didn’t have to happen if guidelines were set up and parents were informed from the start.

A recent article on June 3rd in the L.A. Times was titled the “Parent Trigger Trap.”  This is exactly what it is- a trap!!  Not all parents are being informed about what is happening at their children’s school.  Parents are not given the facts from both sides before signing the petition.  Also if parents sign the petition then they agree with changing the school.  If parents don’t sign, when and if the school is changed , those parents no longer have a voice or vote . How is that parent empowerment? Parents are forced between a rock and a hard place.  This also needs to be changed.  Parents who don’t sign need to have a voice or vote about what happens at their child’s school.  It’s like parents lose their rights if they don’t agree with the petition or Parent Revolution.

So as a parent I am asking that you, the school district,  please implement rules and guidelines in which outside organizations such as Parent Revolution must follow when proceeding with a parent trigger campaign.

 

Thank you,

Raquel Cedillo

Los Angeles parent Karen Wolfe here recounts the hilarious showdown at the meeting of the LAUSD school board between real parents and the organizers from Parent Revolution.

The subject at issue was whether the board would assure an open, transparent, public process when some outside group (ahem) seeks to gather signatures to seize control of the school. That is, when someone decides to pull the “parent trigger” and fire it at staff or the school itself.

The outcome was great: The parents won.

More evidence that the public is awakening to defend public schools against disruption and privatization disguised as “reform.”

This reader says that there is a growing move to push back against Jeb Bush’s disastrous reforms.

Twice, the state’s parent activists have defeated the efforts of Jeb Bush and Michelle Rhee to pass a “parent trigger.” Why would parents join to defeat “parent empowerment”? They knew that the parent trigger was a corporate reform trick to allow more public schools to be handed over to corporations for profit and power. The parents banded together to stop privatization, and they won.

The reader comments about the growing resistance:

I know that it’s way too soon to claim that the worm is turning but I’m fascinated by the pushback down here in the Sunshine State. For years it seemed that no one particularly cared about the craziness coming out of Tallahassee; we just kept on doing what we were told and hoped it would get better.

Now we’ve had a committed and active coalition of parents and teachers push back successfully against a parent trigger law twice. We’ve had a (former) governor veto a VAM teacher eval bill before it got passed by the current governor and then amended by this year’s legislature due to pushback.

Now we have the state school boards and superintendents pushing back hard as well. Finally. Looks like Jeb Bush’s famed school grading program is going to be tweaked yet again because it fails so miserably every year and has created much hostility in parents, school boards, and superintendents due to the ever-shifting ground, the perpetual motion targets, and unfairness of the whole mess.

Even our new Education Commissioner (appointed fresh after his embarrassing electoral loss in Indiana) Tony Bennett seems to have softened a bit, at least in his public statements. We may yet produce a groundswell of opposition here in Florida to fight back the worst of the corporate reforms. At least that’s my hope.

Either that or the cynical reason that Rick Scott wants to be re-elected governor next year and he polls very low when it comes to education. Either way their still remains some hope:

http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/06/18/3457546/state-to-review-tougher-school.html

Robert Skeels attended a “meet and greet” sponsored by pRev (the organization formerly known as Parent Revolution). Read what he learned as he socialized with those who are prepared to close down 50 public schools in Los Angeles. Why? Well, firing people makes better schools. Or does it?

Parent Revolution, funded with millions of dollars by the Walton Family Foundation, the Gates Foundation, and the Broad Foundation, has decided to create a “truth site.”

The story says:

“The site’s initial focus will be on attempting to debunk claims made by NYU education historianDiane Ravitch, who earlier this month quasi-apologized for calling Parent Revolution head Ben Austin “loathsome” and on Friday penned another critique of the parent trigger (which as of this
afternoon has already attracted 60+ comments).”

Apparently Ben Austin’s “open letter” to me on Huffington Post didn’t do the job of explaining his views.

Nor did my response to him on this blog satisfy Ben.

So, let’s see how much energy Parent Revolution is willing to devote to “debunking” my claims. Will Ben Austin bring himself to say the name “Irma Cobian”? That’s the principal whose reputation and career Ben Austin decided to destroy. In his very lengthy letter to me, he did not mention Irma Cobain. Please keep her front and center. She is the victim. Not Ben Austin. Not me. Irma Cobian, a real person, respected by her staff, doing her best, roadkill for Parent Revolution.

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?

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