This week there was yet another instance of a teachers union using disinformation and fear tactics to try to intimidate parents who want to have an effect on their kids’ school.
See, it’s this sort of thing, by the way, that causes liberals, who are generally very pro union (and who are always pro teacher), to start feeling mighty grumpy toward California’s teachers unions—both the statewide union, CTA (California Teachers Association), and its branches, and such local unions as UTLA (United Teachers of Los Angeles)—all of which appear to have become so power-drunk by their decades-long vice grip on CA’s education policy that they actively want to assassinate any other person or group that has the nerve to want also to sit at the decision-making table (and sip a teensy bit of the wine of power too).
(By the way, I mean the word “assassinate” mostly in the metaphorical sense. Operative word: mostly.)
The most recent instance of attack-trained union behavior is occurring in Lynwood, where a group of local elementary school parents have organized as a “parents union” under the banner of the Parents Revolution, which is the group that was instrumental in getting passed the Parent Trigger law.
The Parent Trigger Law is the statute that gives parents the right to “trigger” reforms in schools that are chronically failing to meet minimum state improvement standards (chronic meaning for 4 years or more). In other words, these are the California schools that, year after year, for whatever reasons, give the kids in their care a substandard education. According to the law, when a school screws up to that degree, if at least half of the school’s parents sign a petition, the local school district must adopt one of a handful of reforms: 1. shut down school and let the students enroll in a higher-performing campus nearby; 2. convert the school to an independent charter, 3. fire half the teaching staff and replace the administration; 4. extend school hours and revise the curriculum under a federally recommended turnaround plan; or 5. adopt an “alternative governance” model, which is an option that has a lot of leeway.
In other words, the parent trigger law for the first time gives parents real power to advocate for change in behalf of their sons and daughters—power that previously was held only by the district and the unions, which for the past several decades have seemed more interested in maintaining their respective power bases—-than thinking about what might actually benefit…..you know….kids.
Wow! Bummer! Parents having a place at the bargaining table too! We certainly don’t want THAT!
As it turns out, other states DO want it, and the Trigger law has been spreading, as this Sept. 2011 MSNBC story outlines.
The fact that the dreaded parent-leaning statute might be catching on outside California caused the antipathy toward the Trigger Law to reach such a fever pitch that, this past summer, the American Federation of Teachers put out a power point presentation of how to undermine the law in California and in any other state where it might crop up. The document—which is a must read—openly talks about how the union’s goals are helped by the “Absence of…parents from the table.” (The Orange County Register has more on that shameless move.)
Since the Parent Revolution had its genesis during the rise of the LA charter school powerhouse, Green Dot, the unions have painted such parent groups as clueless dupes of charter school advocates, who cannot make their own decisions and are generally easily influenced idiots who certainly don’t know what their kids need.
The Lynwood union branch of CTA has reportedly used many of FTA’s tactics when they put out flyers and, more recently a newsletter to to try to squash any moves by frustrated Lynwood parents who are tired of sending their children to a school that doesn’t adequately educate them.
The LA Weekly has done a great job of reporting on this issue—both the Lynwood battle that has heated up this week, and an earlier battle over a Compton school, that blew up a year ago.
Here’s a clip from the Weekly’s Simone Wilson’s story on the press conference held Wednesday by Lynwood parents, who are pushing back against union pressure:
Education reformers in California have called Lynwood “ground zero for parent empowerment throughout the entire state.” For whatever reason, parents in the southeast L.A. County town have banded together with an extra sense of urgency, demanding a basic level of respect and competence from their kids’ teachers and administrators that should certainly, by now, be the standard statewide.
But even demands as basic as theirs have now, it seems, been twisted by the local teachers union into some kind of attack on public education as a whole.
Sigh. Fixing this state’s crap school system would sure be a lot easier if we could quit politicking and start discussing the needs of our children like civil human beings.
Uh, yeah. What she said.
IN OTHER NEWS…..ANOTHER CASE OF PROSECUTOR WITHHOLDING EVIDENCE IN TEXAS PUTS MAN IN PRISON FOR 31 YEARS
The Dallas Observer has the story of Rickey Dale Wyatt who was freed on Wednesday after serving 31 years on a rape that Innocence Project head, Barry Scheck says Wyatt did not commit. (The LA Times also reports.)
It seems that although the actual rape victim described a man much larger and taller than Wyatt, and also clean shaven, unlike the then-bearded Wyatt, prosecutors withheld the evidence that likely would have cleared the man.
Although Wyatt’s sentence has been vacated, he has not been declared innocent. He must next appear at the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals where Scheck says he is confident that Wyatt will be cleared.
It is important to note that Dallas District Attorney Craig Watkins has been instrumental in a string of such dramatic releases in Texas because, rather than fighting defense attorneys at every step, Watkins and his office has opened Dallas County Conviction Integrity Unit, which has in many instances opened up files to the Innocence Project and others.
BILL BRATTON AND OTHERS TALK ON NPR ABOUT WHY THE CRIME RATE CONTINUES TO DROP IN THE U.S.
Oh, just listen. It’s a good story, even if Bratton has an ego the size of Wyoming.