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.