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Last week in Florida there was an important victory for progressive Democrats that not many Democrats know about. Even worse, most Democrats may not even be aware why this was a victory.

The important win was generated by a coalition of parent groups, schoolteachers, and advocates for public education who were able to pressure the Florida State Senate to block HB 1191, called "The Parent Empowerment Law." The law creates a process known as the Parent Trigger, in which a majority of parents at a "low-performing school" (usually defined by test scores) can sign a petition to trigger one of a narrow set of options, which often include firing all or some of the staff, turning the school over to a charter operator, or closing the school outright.

According to the education trade newspaper Education Week, the first Parent Trigger law passed in California in 2010, and two similar laws were then passed in Texas and Mississippi. Now, Parent Trigger laws are being considered in more than 20 more states.

When the Parent Trigger narrowly passed the California state legislature in 2010, it was widely portrayed as a grudge match between "parent rights" advocates and "the education establishment."

But in traveling cross-country from California to Florida, something happened in the Parent Trigger debate. By the time the Parent Trigger arrived in Florida, parents were against it, as Valerie Strauss explains in her blog at The Washington Post, and the coalition against it was led by none other than the Florida PTA. What happened?

Those who back these Parent Trigger measures couch their support in the progressive rhetoric of "giving parents a voice" and "getting parents engaged." Those are good things, right?

So how did the Parent Trigger become a lightening rod for opposition led by parents? And why should Democrats care?

So far, Democrats at the national level have few if any answers to these questions. Indeed many may not even be considering the questions at all.

As Beltway edu-gadfly Alexander Russo explains, "Democratic lawmakers and centrist think tankers are all struggling to figure out what to do with the 'parent trigger' idea."

Russo points to evidence that influential Congressman George Miller, who is minority leader of the committee determining education policy, already favors the idea. And so does Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel.

"So where will Barack Obama be on this," Russo asks, "as well as the rest of the Democratic Caucus? Nobody seems to know."

Well, here's where they should be . . .

Look At Whose Fingers Are On The Parent Trigger

As with lots of education-related legislation that's being peddled by the "reform" movement, Parent Trigger laws have a patina of "bipartisanship."

In Florida, boosters of the Trigger ranged from former Republican governor Jeb Bush to self-avowed Democrat Michelle Rhee.

According to an Orlando Sentinel blogpost, a leading national proponent of the legislation is California-based Parent Revolution which is "run by a former President Clinton aide."

"Mayors in Los Angeles and Chicago -- both Democrats -- have praised trigger legislation in Parent Revolution's press releases," the post continues and then quotes ex-governor Bush claiming that, "it came from an organization …whose roots are from the left."

But let's be accurate in locating where the idea of the Parent Trigger really came from. Like so many policy proposals rolling out in state houses across the country, the source of the Parent Trigger is the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) which is funded primarily by big corporations, trade groups, and Republican-favoring foundations such as those funded by the billionaire Koch brothers.

As the Wikileaks site ALEC Exposed reveals, one of the templates for "model legislation" conceived by ALEC reads very similarly to how Parent Trigger bills in both Florida and California were written:

The Parent Trigger places democratic control into the hands of parents at school level. Parents can, with a simple majority, opt to usher in one of three choice-based options of reform: (1) transforming their school into a charter school, (2) supplying students from that school with a 75 percent per pupil cost voucher, or (3) closing the school.
True, some of the "reform" options tend to change with the context, but the main thrust of the ALEC model is identical to what is being rolled out in one state after the other.

Also, behind these Parent Trigger laws are the loudest and most deep-pocketed proponents of charter schools. As Valeri Strauss writes, again, on her blog, backers of the Florida Parent Trigger endeavor were the "big money" and "big business" interests that are identical to funders and leaders of the charter school movement, including the Gates, Broad, and Walton Foundations, big publishing firms, e-learning "solution providers" such as Apex Learning and Cisco, and charter proponents like Charter Schools USA.

This undeniable overlap of interests was not lost on the parent and educator groups in Florida who beat down the Parent Trigger push. Writing in yet another post on Strauss' Washington Post blog, Jean Clements, president of Florida’s Hillsborough County Classroom Teachers Association, explains that the Parent Trigger "is designed to give private companies and charter management organizations an open invitation to exploit parents and take over schools -- destroying school communities. Rather than a grassroots process, it’s an Astroturf mechanism by which companies circulate petitions to take over schools."

By now, the fact that charter school organizations frequently resort to backroom deals and strong-arm tactics to force their way into reluctant communities should not be a surprise to Democrats. Charter school organizations are known to have engineered deliberate shut downs of popular public schools and are big lobbyists behind legislation that forces charter schools on communities that reject them.

Parents and educators in Florida quite rightly saw through the promises of the Parent Trigger and identified it as a "power grab" being engineered by the for-profit charter industry.

This Is Not About Accountability

A major selling point for the Parent Trigger is that it makes local schools more "accountable" to parents in the community. And Democrats should all be pushing for public schools to be accountable to their communities.

But Parent Trigger laws in fact lead to schools being less accountable, as parents in Florida who led the charge against these laws quickly realized.

Writing in an op-ed appearing in The Florida Times Union, Kathleen Oropeza -- co-founder of, a non-partisan Florida-based education advocacy group -- points out that "not one legitimate Florida parent group has asked for this Parent Trigger/Parent Empowerment legislation."

These parents realized that wrestling schools away from local school district control and putting them in the hands of private entities like charter boards and education management organizations headquartered nowhere near the schools -- not even in Florida -- would actually make neighborhood schools less accountable to parents.

Perhaps in Florida, more-so than elsewhere, parents now see that "the bloom is off the rose" in the charter school movement.

Even if politicians can't see it yet, parents notice that study after study show that charter schools do no better than traditional public schools. In fact, they may do worse.

Adding to the faded luster of the charter school movement is the persistent news reports about charter school fraud, embezzlement, and violence -- especially in Florida.

Are there innovative charters making a difference in their communities? Of course. But there are traditional public schools that fit this profile as well. So the "innovation" argument alone does not justify the need for more charter schools. Parents are starting to realize this.

So what charter proponents are doing more often is pivot to the idea that the main purpose of charter schools is to offer parents a "choice." As charter school analyst Gary Miron recently observed in Education Week, "As charters are increasingly well-studied and the variation in quality becomes clearer, there's been an interesting change in the discourse. We don't hear as much about innovation or performance. Instead, we hear that charters promote parent choice."

So much for putting students first.

Parents Don't Own Schools

Finally, Democrats need to renounce the whole notion that education is a commodity that parents shop for like groceries.

"Empowering" a group of parents to shut down or hand over a local school to a charter outfit makes about as mush sense as allowing people who live along a stretch of a public street to close the street when they find it doesn't "serve their needs."

Parents don't own schools and are not the only stakeholders in public schools, although, granted, they are one of the most important. All taxpayers in a local community have contributed to their local schools and therefore all have a stake. That's why we have democratically elected school boards.

Furthermore, that a single cohort of parents -- a snapshot in a long portfolio of families -- should have the power to forever alter the trajectory of a local public school is a violation against all that the parents preceding them and an injury to the generation of parents to come.

But parent ownership aside, the reality is that parents in general do not feel that they are being shut out of their children's education by their local public school. In fact, the most recent MetLife Survey of the American Teacher: Teachers, Parents and the Economy found that parent engagement in schools is in fact steadily on the rise. And "fewer parents now than 25 years ago believe that there is widespread parental disengagement with their children's school and education in general."

So in many ways, the Parent Trigger is a solution in search of a problem.

Where Democrats Should Stand

If Democrats want to see firsthand what Parent Trigger laws are more apt to result in, they should cast their eyes toward Compton, California where the nation's first attempt at a Parent Trigger-initiated school makeover was attempted.

What they'll see is that rather than uniting a community behind the interests of children, it divided parents into factions. And instead of using competition to generate better approaches to teaching children, it pitted parents in a competition against each other over dueling interests and visions for their children's education.

Democrats are making a very bad mistake if they continue to see that the only way forward in rewriting the nation's education policy is to start with ideas borne in conservative think tanks and then hew them into something resembling "bipartisanship."

Their party and the nation's school children would be much better served if they looked at policy ideas that have shown some evidence to have actually worked.

The Parent Trigger is simply not one of those.

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Crossposted from Campaign for America's Future:

Originally posted to jeff bryant on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 02:08 PM PDT.

Also republished by American Legislative Transparency Project.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Parents aren't the only stakeholders (8+ / 0-)

    I agree totally with you there. If the argument for why people without children in the schools pay property tax is that they, too, have a stake in educating the next generation of citizens, then they, too, should have a say in these sorts of decisions.

    Another problem with the trigger laws is that they frequently aren't about a majority of parents but about a majority of those who voted. For something this large, a non-vote should count as a vote for the status quo, since, obviously, the parent isn't motivated enough to vote for change.

    •  Thanks (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gravlax, glorificus, Gorette

      great comment

    •  I partly agree. (0+ / 0-)

      It's reasonable to demand a majority of all parents before enacting a trigger, not just of those who voted.

      But what if a majority of all parents want to have a charter or a voucher? Why should they not be allowed this option?

      •  Because (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        parents don't own schools. Didn't you read the post?

        •  I'm not asserting... (0+ / 0-)

          ...a property right. I'm just saying that we would get better results.

          The Food Stamp program is very successful. The Government gives poor people vouchers and they decide what to eat. Certain unhealthy foods are not allowed, but we do not force vegans to eat hamburger. We leave the choice to the families.

          The Section 8 housing program is also very successful. The government give poor families vouchers to rent housing. The housing must meet certain safety standards, but they do not force people without cars to live far from bus lines. They leave the choice to the families.

          Education is a public good that is provided to benefit Society -- not parents. I get that. I'm just saying that Society will get better results if they let parents, who know their kids best, have more control over it.

          Do you think it's an accident that rich families, who have the most control over how their kids are educated also get the best outcomes?

          •  rich kids get the best outcomes (0+ / 0-)

            because we as a nation refuse to fund schools to the level that they give the things that rich kid schools offer: attention to children's health and safety, small class sizes, well-rounded curriculum, access to services for children with developmental and language problems, opportunities to learn in extra curricular areas. It's really very simple and proven by research. No gimmicks like parent triggers required.

            •  That's not really true either (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              In a lot of districts, the schools that serve poor children may actually get more money than the ones that serve the wealthier students. Yet the ones that serve the wealthier are always better scoring and better outcome schools. A lot of what you mentioned--attention to children's health, for instance, is something that is done by parents. Also an interesting stat for CPS is that wealthier students are more likely to be referred for SPED services--because they have primary care physicians who are able to diagnose quicker than the school is.

              And frankly, some schools in poorer areas decide to spend their extra funding in strange ways, like hiring more security guards than actually providing education.

      •  What of the non-parents? (0+ / 0-)

        Should they not also have a say? It's their school system too!

  •  I'm surprised Michelle Rhee hasn't disavowed her (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MKSinSA, glorificus

    membership in the Democratic Party. My guess is that she used the cover of Dem status to insert her theories into the DC school system. DC being overwhelmingly Democrat.

    Hasn't she been exposed as an opportunist yet? And didn't I hear something about her taking money from Foster Fries?

    Great diary. Thank you!

    "when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro"

    by gravlax on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 02:26:20 PM PDT

  •  Jeb Bush is a big force ... (7+ / 0-)

    in the effort to privatize schools.  He started some charter/voucher efforts when he was governor, and since then his Foundation for Florida's Future has been pushing the agenda hard:

    This session, Bush and his nonprofit organization, the Foundation for Florida’s Future, have helped to fast-track a stream of legislation that could reset the education equation in Florida. The bills, moving steadily through both the House and Senate, could gradually shift the financial and competitive advantage away from traditional public schools to private schools and charter schools, which are often managed by for-profit companies. Other proposals push virtual-learning initiatives.


    "There is an attack on public education as we know it," said Rep. Dwight Bullard, of Miami, the ranking House Democrat on education issues. "Corporations are looking at it as an opportunity to siphon off dollars."

    There is little debate over the influence Bush and the foundation have had in driving the agenda.

    "They have huge sway in the Legislature, in part because of Jeb Bush and in part because they are almost the only game in town," said former state Sen. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach.

    “What’s the use of having developed a science well enough to make predictions if, in the end, all we’re willing to do is stand around and wait for them to come true?” - Sherwood Rowland

    by jrooth on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 02:28:50 PM PDT

  •  The two California cases (8+ / 0-)

    in Compton and Adelanto, were both initiated by the outside group Parent Revolution, which had no stake in either local community.

    In the Compton case, the charter operator was prechosen by Parent Revolution with no input from parents or the community. The petition, circulated with no publicity and no public meetings, never gave anyone in the community the opportunity to discuss if the strategy it required was better than the existing strategy for that school, let alone if it was the best possible one. There was no opportunity for the school board even to address it before it was presented as a fait accompli.

    This is exactly the opposite of local control.

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 02:39:17 PM PDT

  •  If they want more "democratic" control of schools (0+ / 0-)

    They might as well make school principal an elected position.

  •  Thank you! I live near Gainesville and (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    tv news is pretty pitiful here. I'm glad to know this.

    "extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy.... the truth is that the whole nature of our society is at stake." Paul Krugman

    by Gorette on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 03:04:02 PM PDT

  •  Parent Trigger is 1 of those ideas that sound good (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jrooth, Trotskyrepublican

    ... until you look at what's really involved and how it tends to work (or not work) in practice.

    At first glance, it's difficult to argue with the concept that empowering parents to have more influence over the schools their children attend is a positive step in the right direction. After all, who could be against giving those with the biggest stake in education outcomes a stronger voice in the decision making that directly affects the students who have no voice of their own?

    Unfortunately, on closer examination, you see that, if left to their own devices, parents are just as -- if not more -- likely to completely screw up the schools they want to improve. Oh, they mean well, but they are understandably focused on what is best for their own offspring and are usually quite willing to sacrifice the education of other children as the price that they think must be paid for catering to the special interests and needs of their boys and girls. This tends to result in situations where the parents with the most income, and therefore, time, to spend influencing their local schools get more of what they want at the expense of students with parents who are not as well off.

    I am no believer in the cult of experts, but sometimes it really does make sense to listen to the professionals, and especially experienced classroom teachers, over the opinions of folks who are blind to issues such as figuring out how to use each school's limited resources to give everybody the best chance possible to obtain a decent education.

    Long ago, back when I was a newspaper reporter covering the education beat for a year at one of the 10 biggest school districts in the country, I still recall something a high-income, middle-aged mother said about a plan to rezone her kids to a different school altogether. Her words were, "Parents invest everything they have in their children. That's why they will do everything they can for them."

    That is very admirable indeed. But multiplied by thousands of students' parents, it's a crazy way to make choices on curricula, class sizes, teacher evaluations, overall staffing, etc. Perhaps it's time to re-examine the role we want public schools to play now. I always thought it was to do the greatest good for the greatest number of students possible, not reward the few over the many.

    •  "1 of those ideas that sound good" (0+ / 0-)

      Kind of like No Child Left Behind?

    •  Yes. (0+ / 0-)

      Additionally, there's a trick embedded in the scheme - the limited set of changes that can be "triggered."

      There might actually be a good idea in there somewhere - but it would have to involve a much more open-ended process that involves the parents somehow.

      “What’s the use of having developed a science well enough to make predictions if, in the end, all we’re willing to do is stand around and wait for them to come true?” - Sherwood Rowland

      by jrooth on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 04:40:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Rich parents already... (0+ / 0-)

      ...get the best. They do so without triggers.

      "...parents are just as -- if not more -- likely to completely screw up the schools they want to improve...and are usually quite willing to sacrifice the education of other children...This tends to result in situations where the parents with the most income, and therefore, time, to spend influencing their local schools get more of what they want..."
      This is true for 99% of education in America. The rich parents have already fled to the suburbs and the private schools. Trigger laws offer those left in the inner cities a chance to have at least some influence over their schools. Currently we have none.

      Maybe we will "screw it up". That is a possibility. But it cannot be much worse that what we have now.

      •  Nonsense (0+ / 0-)

        "Trigger laws offer those left in the inner cities a chance to have at least some influence over their schools."

        Did you read the post? Did you click through to the link on Montgomery County schools that are closing the achievement gap? Do you have any evidence whatsoever of parent trigger laws producing positive change? Traditional public schools do produce positive change when there is a collective will in the community to press for this. All these other "reforms" are just a distraction from the matter at hand.

        •  Parent trigger laws... (0+ / 0-)

          ...produce positive change.

          The threat of these trigger laws will force Entrenched Interests to allow more charter schools.

          Remember, Trigger Vote will always fail if there is a charter school nearby. If the charter is bad, parents won't want to duplicate it. If the charter is good, parents will just switch their kid to it.

          You write:

          "Traditional public schools do produce positive change when there is a collective will in the community to press for this."
          Well, yeah. Anything can be done if we have a "collective will in the community". But in my inner-city neighborhood, we don't have that will. What we do have are 51% of parents (Not "the community". Parents.) who are not strong enough to fight The System, but are strong enough to muster a Trigger Vote. Just the threat that we might do so would make The System pay more attention to us.

          Give us the power. Don't stand in the schoolhouse door.

          •  "Don't stand in the schoolhouse door." (0+ / 0-)

            Oh, please. It was segregationists who stood in the school house door. And charter schools are way more segregated than traditional public schools. And there's no evidence that "more charter schools" has any benefit whatsoever to poor kids. Keep up with the talking points though!

            •  Charter schools... (0+ / 0-)

              ...are not more segregated.

              Look at a rich suburban Public school. Note the color of the children.

              Then look at a poor inner-city Public school. Once again, note the color of the children.

              Our public school system enforces segregation by linking your school to where you live.

              This is the dirty secret of the anti-reform movement. Reforms like Charters, Triggers, etc. are aimed at empowering poor families.  They are opposed by a cadre of white-collar professionals who often commute from the suburbs to teach in our neighborhoods.

              If the schools in the Bronx were better, there would be no reason for the existence of Westchester County. Suburban property values would plummet. Upper-middle-class kids would lose some of the advantages better schools provide them.

              Threatening to make inner-city schools better is threatening Class Warfare.

              •  well, there are these things called facts (0+ / 0-)


                "A new study by UCLA’s Civil Rights Project suggests charter school growth is increasing classroom segregation. Seven out of ten black charter school students attend schools with extremely low numbers of white students. Black students account for 32 percent of charter school enrollment nationwide, twice the percentage enrolled in public schools. The UCLA report is entitled 'Charter Schools’ Political Success is a Civil Rights Failure.'"

                Jut google it dude:


                •  You an I both know... (0+ / 0-)

                  ...that comparison is unfair!

                  Charter schools have more blacks because they are more likely to open in black areas.

                  They are more likely to open in black areas because white kids generally already have good public schools!

                  "Seven out of ten black charter school students attend schools with extremely low numbers of white students."

                  Gimme a (Statistics 101) break. White kids don't go to charter schools. White kids move to the suburbs.
            •  Here is some data... (0+ / 0-)

              ...on Charter Schools in NYC. The evidence shows that they are doing very well for us.

              "Overall the results found that the typical student in a New York City charter school learns more than their virtual counterparts in their feeder pool in reading and mathematics...New York City charters perform relatively better in math than in reading...The results also show that in New York City Black and Hispanic students enrolled in charter schools do significantly better in reading and math compared to their counterparts in traditional public schools..."
              NYC Charter schools are better than those in places like Florida. We have laws that prevent cherry-picking of students. We have less corruption, also.
              •  look deeper my friend (0+ / 0-)

                look deeper:


                "Since most NYC charters are “oversubscribed,” they hold blind admission lotteries. Put simply, . . . this random selection process to compare “lotteried-in” students who attended charter schools with those who didn’t . . . account for many of the differences among students (especially selection effects) that may influence achievement outcomes."

                •  I'm not citing... (0+ / 0-)

                  ...the Hoxby study. I'm citing the CREDO study.

                  If you have a flaw with the CREDO methodology, I hope that you'll never cite their national study that famously says that only 1 in 5 charters is better than a public school.

                  Besides, the link you gave basically vindicates charter schools. Because it is Shanker Blog, DiCarlo "buried the lede" deep in his post:

                  "Nevertheless, once again, it is absolutely fair to say that their results do represent powerful evidence that the small group of about 75 NYC oversubscribed charter schools included in the analysis produced larger math and reading gains than did the city’s regular public schools, and that this effect was causal. By the way, the comparison students in regular public schools also made statistically significant gains, on average; they were just much smaller than those among charter students."
                  But you must read the whole litany of methodological nit-picking (thirty frackin' paragraphs!) before the author admits that, in NYC, charters are better.

                  What should I want for my daughter? "Larger math and reading gains"? Or should I stick with the, "much smaller" gains? Hmmm...let me think...


                  ...Done thinking! I'll take "Larger Gains", please!

  •  Parents should control education. (0+ / 0-)
    "Parents Don't Own Schools

    Finally, Democrats need to renounce the whole notion that education is a commodity that parents shop for like groceries."

    Rich parents can choose between multiple schools. Charters and vouchers extend this power to poor families as well. I do not understand how any "progressive" can be in favor of stopping poor families from having decision-making power.

    We must give power to parents not because it is a "right", or because of any belief in "free markets" but because it just works better. Parents know better than bureaucrats what their children need. Even if we don't, it doesn't matter -- we have the kid for 128 hours/week. The System only has her for 40 hours.

    Parents do shop for education. Look at the real-estate prices in suburbs if you do not believe me. Families with money have always had the privilege to shop. Charters and vouchers -- and yes, Parent Triggers -- give poorer families some of the same privilege.

    •  what "works better" (0+ / 0-)

      Any evidence of parent trigger and "choice"working better? The longest running choice program in America is in Milwaukee. And Milwaukee schools are not better than they were before the voucher policies went into place. In Finland, insisting on equity has worked better. No gimmicks like charters and parent triggers. Just a determination to provide quality education for all kids. I have no idea why you are against this.

      •  Here is some evidence. (0+ / 0-)

        First, let's not talk about Finland. Finland has Finland has the lowest child poverty rate in the OECD of 5%. Ours is the highest at 22%. We also have three times the teen pregnancy rate that Finland does.

        Finnish Education works well on Finnish kids. In fact, I bet any system would work on kids who have a strong, non-poverty, nurturing home environment.

        Second, let's look at the academic evidence on Charter Schools.

        Most studies say that most charters do worse, but some do better. But I say, this is acceptable because parents have choice. If the charter is bad, parents are free to leave.

        (If the Public School is bad, parents are stuck. Unless they can afford to buy an expensive house in a richer suburb).

        Why don't parents leave bad charters? Well, because we (or rather all the researchers) are defining a "bad" charter as one with low test scores. Obviously, some parents believe that there are more important things than test scores. It may be an arts program, a charismatic principal, or even proximity to home that makes a particular family choose a particular school. We should let them have that choice.

        Besides, whenever we try to rate schools by test scores, the Entrenched Establishment tells us that "some things can't be tested" and the "test scores only measure how well you can take a test". Fine. Those parents who choose Charters with low scores must agree with these sentiments. Leave them to their choice.

        Third, we need to look at corrupt Charter schools. The answer here is simple. Round the corrupt people and throw them in jail. Don't let the few (or maybe not-so-few) bad schools taint the good ones!

        We should remember that there is corruption in some Public Schools also. That does not mean we should abolish all public schools!

        Lastly, we must not take our eyes off the political ball. Inner-city public schools are very bad right now. Charters are an imperfect solution but they are politically possible today.  I know what the research says. The research says we should:

        - End poverty
        - Cut class size in half
        - Publicly flog parents who don't make their kids do homework. Just kidding. No really, I'm kidding. Promise I'm kidding {crosses fingers}...
        These things are just not in the 2013 budget. 2014 doesn't look good either. So I advocate Charters because it is a politically possible reform that can solve some of the problem Right Now. Not when we reach Utopia, or Finland, or Narnia. Right Here, Right Now.
        •  you can run but you can't hide (0+ / 0-)

          Nothing you are proposing has any likelihood of producing better results. And your insistence that it is what's "politically possible" just shows how much you've sold out to the right wing. You've resigned yourself to a belief that we can't do anything about poverty or equality, and you've instead filled in your empty philosophy with a political bromide about what can be done "right here, right now." I find this truly sad and in the long run totally impractical to the matter at hand.

          •  You may find me sad... (0+ / 0-)

            ...but I object to being called, "impractical".

            Anyway, it's your turn: Please tell me your program to make schools better for the kids in my NYC neighborhood. My daughter and her friends are in First Grade now. What grade will she be in when your program takes effect?

            Oh, and can you get your plan through the House of Representatives? Last time I looked, there was this Speaker named "Boner" or "Banal" or something like that...

            •  Remember that link (0+ / 0-)

              i gave in my diary about the traditional public school system in Montgomery County that is actually closing the achievement gap? They didn't have to get their plan through the house of representatives. And they didn't pluck low hanging fruit from right wing politicians to achieve progress. But true, it didn't get accomplished with a single silver bullet like parent trigger laws or charter schools. And I would advise you to quit looking for that.

              •  If you mean... (0+ / 0-)

                ...this article, I was baffled.

                Nowhere in that article is there any data showing any sort of "success".

                The only thing they achieved (after 10 years) was the winning of a big grant.

                And what tools did they use? Standardized tests and tracking:

                "Testing identifies talented non-white students as early as second grade, to prepare them for demanding high school AP and International Baccalaureate classes that can smooth the path to a college degree."
                But it was this that told me all I needed to know:
                "[Closing the gap] doesn't happen in a year ... it doesn't happen in five years," said Osseo schools Superintendent Kate McGuire, who visited Montgomery County in late January. "This takes a really sustained focus."
                In "five years", my daughter will be entering Middle School. Shall I let her waste the next five years waiting to see if this edubabble pays off? Or should I put her in a Charter that will give good results Right Now?

                Lastly, you wrote:

                " didn't get accomplished with a single silver bullet like parent trigger laws or charter schools. And I would advise you to quit looking for that."
                Imagine if instead of passing Health Care Reform, we just told people to, "Give your Health Insurer more time...just stick with them another five years...reform doesn't happen overnight!"
                •  I'm not criticizing what you do for your daughter (0+ / 0-)

                  Parents have to make the best choices they are able to make. But don't assume that what you have to choose for your daughter should be rolled out as national education policy for every American. And I find your trust in parent triggers and charter schools extremely shortsighted. But nevertheless, best of luck in your personal situation.

          •  Wait, did you read my last post? (0+ / 0-)
            "Nothing you are proposing has any likelihood of producing better results."
            Some charters have better test scores. More don't.

            Parents who choose the ones that don't have other reasons for choosing them.

            How is "choice" not better than "no choice"?

            Lastly, here in NYC, charters don't just have "likelihood" of producing better results, they actually do.

  •  Parent Trigger laws are the only hope... (0+ / 0-) some cities.

    It would be better to allow Charter Schools to open and give parents an option. But Entrenched Interests often block charter schools from even opening.

    So, the only options for parents are heavy-handed Trigger Laws.

    I wish it didn't have to be this way. Trigger laws do not increase choice. They just substitute one bad school for a school that might also be bad.

    King George III could have stopped the American Revolution if he had just given the 13 colonies representation in Parliament. But he was greedy -- and the Revolution cost him the whole continent.

    I believe that the Entrenched Educational Establishment may be in for a similar harsh lesson.

    "But the people behind these laws are all evil Republicans!"

    True. And many of the people pulling down that statue owned slaves. But at the end of the day the who or why won't matter. What will matter is that unless we come up with a politically possible Progressive solution to the problem of Bad Schools, public education can get pulled down. Blocking inner-city parents from making choices is not Progressive.

    And yeah, it would be perfect if we ended all poverty and all parents made kids do homework, and I know that only 20% of the problem can be affected by teachers and 80% is environment. I read the research. It won't matter. If more that half the parents hate that school so much that they want to close it, the statue will get pulled down.

    Certain Entrenched Interests should consider giving up something...instead of losing everything.

    Remember, that a Trigger Vote will always fail if there is a charter school nearby...all the disgruntled parents will have already moved to the charter!

    •  This seems like a concern troll comment (0+ / 0-)

      "I wish it didn't have to be this way."

      •  I'm not a troll. (0+ / 0-)

        I am mostly in favor of Charters, Merit Pay, VAM, Standardized Tests, and nearly all "reforms" except abolishing tenure.

        I am a progressive. These policies further the progressive goal of empowering the poor, increasing publicly-funded education, and reducing the class-based gap between the inner-city and the suburbs.

        I am an inner-city parent. The schools in my neighborhood are very bad. I do not understand why a small number of self-styled "progressives" appear to want to block my family from having a choice of schools.

        Imagine the following possible Trigger Laws:

        1) If a vote of workers immediately Triggered the unionization of a company.

        2) If a vote of citizens immediately Triggered the recall of a governor.

        3) If a vote of customers immediately Triggered the investigation of a Bank or Health Insurance Company.

        4) If a vote of tenants immediately Triggered the investigation of a slumlord.

        What progressive would be against giving power to workers, citizens, customers, or tenants? But if giving Trigger power threatens the Entrenched Interests of a certain group of educated, upper-middle-class, white-collar professionals there are some who will be against it.

        These are the real Concern Trolls. They are Concerned that inner city parents might use Power to make the Comfortable...uncomfortable.

        Let's ask the parents if they want a new school. Let's hear what they say. What are you afraid of? What are you...concerned...about?

        •  Because what you espouse (0+ / 0-)

          "Charters, Merit Pay, VAM, Standardized Tests" have no track record of improving the lot of poor inner city kids. And I defy you to prove otherwise.

          And if you want to make "the comfortable uncomfortable" start challenging the very powerful interests behind all the things you espouse, including the Gates and Walton foundations, rightwing belief tanks like ALEC, and corporate lackeys like Michelle Rhee and Rupert Murdoch who BTW all agree with what you are saying.

  •  Pay no mind to reactionary trolls (0+ / 0-)

    Parent Revolution and their ilk can deny their ties to ALEC and other reactionaries all they want, but they can't hide the fact that they have had deep and long-standing partnerships with ALEC members, including fringe right-wing The Heartland Institute. In addition to constant collaboration with Heartland, Parent Revolution hosts forums with them. See the following flyer from one of their events and an article discussing it:

    The evidence is damning, and their claims that they don't represent right-wing interests ring hollow. Bear in mind Parent Revolution was originally the Los Angeles Parents Union, which was a wholly owned subsidiary of the Green Dot Charter School Corporation. Parent Revolution's sole reason for existence is to build market share for the lucrative charter school sector. This is born out both by the comments of their funders, and by the privatization policies of their funders.

    See this piece for a statement by Eli Broad on why he funds Parent Revolution:

    See these documents to see the names right-wing plutocrats who fund Parent Revolution and the staggering amounts they contribute. Tops on the list, the privatization reactionaries at the Walton Family Foundation.

    For the actual ALEC legislation crafted from Governor Schwartzenegger, Ben Austin, Gloria Romero's original bill, see:

    To be sure, "school choice" was the clarion call of segregationists. It still is.

    "Problem posing education does not and cannot serve the interests of the oppressor" -- Paulo Freire

    by rdsathene on Mon Mar 19, 2012 at 10:39:37 AM PDT

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