Archives for category: Parent trigger

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?

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
OPEN SESSION ITEMS

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;

REGULAR MEETING ORDER OF BUSINESS

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.

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