Patrick Range McDonald and Simone Wilson at the LA Weekly are doing a great job of covering the precedent-setting fight that is going on at McKinley Elementary School in Compton where a group of activist parents, together with the activist school reform group, the Parent Revolution, are using a new and controversial law called The California Parent Trigger to transform their failing local school into a charter.
Now, however, reports the Weekly, some of McKinley’s teachers are fighting back and according to parent organizers—and a video—some of those teachers are fighting dirty—telling parents that if their kid is in special ed, he or she will no longer be able to attend school..
Similar tactics were used several years ago when Locke High School parents, together with the Green Dot charter schools, attempted to turn Locke into a charter, after which UTLA strafed the Locke parents with misinformation in an effort to block the charter conversion—which happened anyway, and academic life at Locke has been much the better for it, thank you very much.
To understand this story it is first important to understand how the Parent Trigger works. Here’s how the Weekly explains it:
The California Parent Trigger law was passed against huge odds by the Democratic-controlled, teacher union–friendly state Legislature, becoming law this year. The California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers lobbied hard for its demise, but they were beaten by what one Sacramento insider later described as a “ragtag” bunch of minority parents and fierce reformers, who seemed to materialize from thin air.
The trigger gives parents the power to decide the fate of 75 failing California schools by petitioning the school district. It’s up to California parents to choose which schools.
Mothers and fathers who pull the Parent Trigger can pick four options:
1. Establish a charter school in the school buildings;
2. Bring in a new staff and exert some control over staffing and budgeting;
3. Keep the school intact but fire the principal; or
4. Shutter the school entirely and send the students to better, nearby schools.
But first, these hyperlocal reformers must get at least 51 percent of all parents whose children attend that school to join them in signing off on the idea.
The LA Times’ Carla Rivera also reports that parents say they are being intimidated by certain McKinley teachers:
Marlene Romero said that her son’s third-grade teacher asked to speak to her about his education and then spent an hour telling her why she shouldn’t support the petition drive.
“I want the principal and all the teachers to stop intimidating parents and especially our kids,” Romero said. “It’s really sad. My son told me he hated me for what I’m doing. I told him that I’m doing this for his future.”
The parents were joined by Michelle Rhee, the former Washington, D.C., public schools chancellor who heads the recently-formed reform group Students First. She urged district administrators to create ground rules for acceptable and unacceptable behavior by employees.
“If [educators] are saying that parents need to get more involved … we cannot create a hostile environment” when parents speak up, Rhee said.
However, by 8:40 p.m. Tuesday night, the Weekly’s Simone Wilson, blogging from the Compton school board meeting, reports that it is the anti-charter people who have come out in force.
And at the Wave, <a href="http://www.wavenewspapers.com/news/local/west-edition/McKinley-Elementary-School-principal-responds-to-parent-petition-111688429.html”>Leiloni du Gruy reports on the Parent Trigger situation from the perspective of McKinley’s school principal.
Obviously there is much more to play out in the days to come, so stay tuned.
MEANWHILE JERRY BROWN TELLS UCLA CROWD THAT MORE EDUCATION CUTS ARE COMING
Westwood Patch has the story:
Brown told the roughly 200 people at the briefing that the state’s financial situation is worse than it was in the Great Depression.
”We’re at an unprecedented moment of reckoning,” Brown said. ”This perfect storm, I think, is the worst it’s ever been because we’re not quite in the same position in the Depression, where government played a small, much smaller role in the life of our communities as it does today.”
Photo by Leiloni De Gruy for The Wave