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The heavy promotion of the new film "Won't Back Down" is an attempt to foist so-called "parent triggers" upon public schools - if a majority of parents vote a school can be taken out of the public system and turned into a charter, while continuing to receive the funds from public taxation.

This is one of the key wet-dreams of the American Legislative Exchange Council, aka ALEC.  The film has been funded by Walden Media, also involved in funding "Waiting for Superman," another film intended to bash teachers and teachers unions and to a degree public schools.  The key person behind Walden is billionaire Philip Anschutz, a conservative Christian who pushes a right-wing religious perspective.  Among the people promoting the film, about which I will offer a few comment below, are the likes of Michelle Rhee and the members of the so-called Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), which has a lot of participation from hedge fund managers who have no current personal connection to public schools beyond the opportunity to profit from their proposed "reforms."

All of this is introductory material.

I hope I have not lost you.

What I want to do is to address the idea that a simple majority of parents in a public school should be allowed to take that school and its taxpayer funding out of the public school system.

Please keep reading.

Let me be absolutely clear - I am as opposed to parent trigger laws as I am of vouchers.  Both are intended to undercut the very idea of public institutions, starting with our public schools.  

I live in Arlington VA, with superb public schools, with a relatively low percentage of our households having children in the public schools, even though all of our households pay taxes that support those schools (those who rent have a portion of that rent used to pay the real estate taxes on the properties in which they live).

I thought I could demonstrate what a low percentage of households we have by doing a comparison with nearby Fairfax County, using data from the respective school systems and the US Census Bureau.  Since statistics are from different sources, all figures cited are approximate.

Fairfax County
Population        1,100,000
Households          382,000
school aged  24%    264,000
publ schl students  174,000

In Fairfax, even were there only 1 public school student in each household less than half the households would have students in public schools

Now Arlington County
Population          216,000
Households           92,000
school aged  16%     34,560
publ schl students   22,000

In Arlington, even were there only 1 public school student in each household less than a quarter of households would have students in public schools

In fact, in Arlington, it is around 10% of households actually having students in public schools.

There is another argument beyond whether or not households have students in the public schools.  Some of our schools have attendance areas where the household income or the value of the domicile per family is significantly lower than those figures in other parts of the county. As it happens, with over 1/3 of our children receiving free and reduced lunches, often the larger families participating in the public schools are from our less well off neighborhoods.  But the attendance area of our public schools does not effect the per pupil expenditure, which is level across the district.

All citizens get to vote on school bonds.  All citizens get to vote for the County Board members who set the tax rates that pay for the public school.s

Many whose children attend those schools do not get to vote, because they are immigrants and not yet citizens, or in a few cases are accredited foreign diplomats or those residing temporarily while working at places like the IMF or the World Bank.  Some of those are even exempt from paying the taxes that support the schools, because their housing is owned by their native nations and is thus exempt from real property taxes. Under Parent Trigger laws they would be entitled to vote on taking the school out of the public system even though the taxes that would continue to pay for them are not their responsibility because they are exempt.

Just a few facts that would seem to me to undercut the reasoning behind parent trigger laws, which realistically have little to do with improving education and everything to do with undercutting and privatizing public institutions while simultaneously destroying public employee unions - in this case the unions of teachers and administrators and of support personnel.

Let me reiterate a few points

1.  In some school systems you may have a significant percentage of the parents who would not be able to vote because they are not citizens, yet their children will be affected by the outcome of the vote.  If you were to set up a provision to allow them to vote on this issue, you are then allowing them to vote on a commitment of public funds when they are not allowed to vote for the elected officials or on bond issues or referenda that involve commitments of public funds.

2.  The approach of the parent trigger is an undercutting of the idea of public institutions.  This should not surprise us.  It did not take ALEC to see a move to undercut public institutions in favor of privatization of government services.  This privatizing of the Commons is something that has greatly contributed to the loss of the American Dream, and is part of the downward economic pressure on increasing numbers of Americans.

Let me also add this -  the film "Won't Back Down" is propaganda.  It is NOT based on any real events.  The one attempt so far for use of a parent trigger, in California, has resulted in law suits by parents who claim their names were being shown as for taking the school out when that is not what they thought they were signing.  

And it is not a very good film.  While the official release is tomorrow, there are already a number of reviews, all critical.  If I may quote from an email on an educational list in which I participate to give a sense:

AP review: movie “Fails to make the grade” http://shar.es/...  “Theaters should install glow-in-the-dark versions of those old clunking classroom clocks so viewers can count the agonizing minutes ticking by as they watch the movie.”

NPR review:  “Too-Easy Way Out” http://shar.es/...  "something less honorable...propaganda piece w/ blame on its mind"

Salon review:  “Won't Back Down" is an offensive, lame, union-bashing drama “ http://shar.es/...  

“ …the movie is unbelievable crap and the whole project was financed by conservative Christian billionaire Phil Anschutz, also the moneybags behind the documentary “Waiting for ‘Superman,’” …“simpering, pseudo-inspirational pap, constructed with painful awkwardness and disconnected from any narrative plausibility or social reality…. script that has that disconnected, amateurish quality distinctive to conservative-oriented entertainment and plays written by fourth-graders…. a set of right-wing anti-union talking points disguised (with very limited success) as a mainstream motion-picture-type product. Someone needs to launch an investigation into what combination of crimes, dares, alcoholic binges and lapses in judgment got Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal into this movie…..,..”

Hollywood Reporter review”  http://shar.es/...  “  "pedestrian & insultingly tendentious..condescending... dumbed-down agenda film… Given the disingenuous way in which this lumbering movie pushes obvious buttons and manipulates the audience’s emotional investment while conveniently skimming the issues, it’s a mystery how some of these names got roped in.”

Variety’s Review: "disingenuous pot-stirrer...taking public for dummies...cardboard characterizations" http://shar.es/...

Only mixed review (that I’ve seen so far):  Rex Reed in NY Observer review: http://shar.es/...

“This is Norma Rae with chalk and erasers in place of a sewing machine, except for one major difference—this time it’s the unions that stand in the way of progress. With that in mind, it’s little surprise that political conservatives at the press screening I attended booed loudly. [?] For the most part, the direction by Daniel Barnz is clear and substantial, and the screenplay, by the director and Brin Hill, is meticulously researched and stumble-free. As a message picture, its heart is in the right place. Too bad it doesn’t always manage to rise above a swirl of predictable Hollywood clichés.”

One of the stars of the film is Viola Davis.  Sadly, she should know better.  She is a graduate of Central Falls High School in Rhode Island, which became famous when Arne Duncan praised the decision to fire all the teachers as a means of "fixing" the school when the real issue was the poverty of the community and the students.   Davis is now advocating for a charter school in Central Falls, and that has included getting a $10,000 contribution from Ellen DeGeneres when appearing on her show.

I want to close with a parallel to the parent trigger.  Several people including my wife have participated in shaping this.

Imagine you are on a plane.  For whatever reason, you are unhappy with the trip.  The passengers decide to vote and replace the pilot - while you are in the air.  Either your votes will be counted by your frequent flier miles, or else whoever has the most frequent flier miles will take the controls, even if s/he has no experience whatsoever as a pilot.

There is no evidence that charters perform better than do public schools.

If the issue is we want to change our public schools, empower the communities to make changes at a local level, while protecting civil rights and civil liberties.  Allow individual schools to experiment with different models - that was the original intent of charters.

But under no circumstances should public resources and institutions that serve an entire community be able to be privatized, officially or effectively, by what is ultimately a minority of the community that is responsible for paying for those resources and institutions.

Just some thoughts from a former public school teacher, who lives in Arlington VA where he gladly pays taxes for schools he has never used as a parent because he has no children, but who benefits from the high quality of those schools starting with the increased value of his home, but extending to the better lives made possible for the students who pass through those classrooms.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (36+ / 0-)

    "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

    by teacherken on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 05:29:33 AM PDT

  •  Desegregation (11+ / 0-)

    Is still being fought.

    They just changed the names of the battles.

    Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.

    by Horace Boothroyd III on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 05:37:54 AM PDT

    •  yup (4+ / 0-)

      they are doing it legal and actually getting the public to demand it.

      fucked up isn't it?

      -You want to change the system, run for office.

      by Deep Texan on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 06:33:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Majorly (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        fuzzyguy, Deep Texan, bookgirl
        fucked up isn't it?

        Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.

        by Horace Boothroyd III on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 06:35:58 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  We also need to point out (4+ / 0-)

        that this is what the school issue is all about.

        What is truly frustrating is the same people and organizations(they do change names but not staff) that were fighting desegregation in the 1970's.

        Spread the meme: Vouchers=Racist

        Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.

        by Horace Boothroyd III on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 07:23:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Just the opposite, actually. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gramofsam1

          Under the current system, Rich Kids have all fled the public schools.

          Vouchers allow black and brown kids to follow them.

          Unless parents have school choice, their school will be determined by their neighborhood. We all know what that means! Your neighborhood is determined by your wealth.

          Anyone who is against School Choice is (unwittingly or not) protecting the current segregation of our schools.

          •  not really (7+ / 0-)

            not enough money in vouchers to pay for elite private education

            and the way many voucher proposals are phrased would mean most of $$ would go to people who have already pulled their kids out of public schools

            btw - whenever vouchers are put on ballot voters have rejected them.  They have been imposed by legislatures and on DC by a Republican Congress

            "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

            by teacherken on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 07:47:02 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Well then, we need to... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              gramofsam1

              ...come up with a better voucher proposal.

              One that provides large amounts of money and targets it to the poorest families.

              But that is a subject for another diary.

              I will point out that trying to completely dismiss a reform instead of proposing improvements to it is consistent with anti-reform delaying tactics.

              Lastly, gay marriage fails when it is put on the ballot also. That doesn't mean it's a bad idea!

              •  no we don't (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Mostel26, bookgirl

                we just need to take all the money and use it to provide the same level of service to all public schools.

                which would be fair.

                -You want to change the system, run for office.

                by Deep Texan on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 08:03:27 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  No it wouldn't be fair. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  gramofsam1

                  Even if we (magically) had national education funding and gave the South Bronx the same per-pupil dollars as Scarsdale gets, it would not be fair.

                  The kids in the Bronx come from tough backgrounds and cost more to teach. They actually need more money.

                  But this is a red herring. Truly fair funding is not politically possible yet. So, for now we need to at least help as many kids as we can.

                  •  Bullshit, to coin a phrase. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    bookgirl
                    But this is a red herring. Truly fair funding is not politically possible yet. So, for now we need to at least help as many kids as we can.
                    But completely in line with your incessant push for privatization of our public school system.

                    Ignoring the root problems (poverty and fair funding) simply promotes the kinds of schemes that are increasingly damaging to the current system.

                    Why do you want that so badly?

              •  Not enough money (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                elfling, Deep Texan, bookgirl

                There is no way to get enough money to do that.  Ultimately, if a private school pays its teachers the same, and halves the student:teacher ratio, then it costs twice what a public school does.  Take NY for example: NY spent over $18k/public school student in 2011 (about $18,600 actually).  Which is incredible, until you consider the fact that at Fieldston or Riverdale Country Day, tuition is more than double that.  Where, exactly, are you going to get $40k per student to send them to a private school?

                •  We don't spend... (0+ / 0-)

                  ...an extra $20k for every student.

                  We only need to come up with $20k for the poorest students. Middle class students get less.

                  It is still a big expense. But it would be worth it.

                  Also, we don't have to meet the high standards of Riverdale. I would settle for getting the ratio 50% of the way...

          •  No (3+ / 0-)

            That is what you have been told.

            Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.

            by Horace Boothroyd III on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 07:49:18 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  you got it opposite (5+ / 0-)

            schools shouldn't be determined by the neighborhood.  that's the real problem.

            the rich school and the poor school should both pull money from the same account that all schools share.  

            public education money should be pooled and used to provide the same level of education to all students in every public school.

            what they are doing is killing public education with the side effect of re-segregating the schools.

            -You want to change the system, run for office.

            by Deep Texan on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 08:02:53 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  You are using a common... (0+ / 0-)

              ...anti-reform tactic. You are proposing a perfect solution that we all know is not politically possible.

              The purpose is to distract us from real reforms.

              This is a conversation about horses and mules. Please don't waste our time with Unicorns.

              Vouchers and Charters are incrementally better and they are politically possible today.  That is why I am for them.

              •  Vouchers targeting the poorest a non-starter. (5+ / 0-)

                Making vouchers target the poorest kids as you suggest is just as politically impossible as distributing all tax dollars to schools equally.  Charters have been an abject failure.  Privatization just removes money from education to profit for the owners.   None of this will end well.

                You have correctly stated the problem (poor districts need more money/support than middle/upper calss districts).  Focus on the problem like a laser beam and maybe we'll make some real progress.

                "Wall Street expertise, an industry in which anything not explicitly illegal is fair game, and the illegal things are fair game too if you think you won't get caught." — Hunter

                by Back In Blue on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 09:33:19 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Not true. (0+ / 0-)

                  Nearly every voucher proposal is restricted to poor kids.

                  (I admit, this is because the right-wingers who proposed them were hoping to divide the left).

                  But even a broken clock is right once a day. The notion that vouchers should start with poor kids is widely accepted and politically palatable. It can be done.

                  We just need to increase the size of the vouchers to a meaningful level.

                  •  Increasing the size is also not politically viable (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Deep Texan, Mostel26

                    Also, the voucher programs that the GOP and Rhee, etc. want in their dreams would be available to everyone and essentially displace public schools.  It's simply unworkable and would result in all private schools where the poorest would be stuck in the same situation again—only able to attend the worst schools because it's all their voucher will pay for.

                    It's really no different than vouchers instead of Medicare.

                    "Wall Street expertise, an industry in which anything not explicitly illegal is fair game, and the illegal things are fair game too if you think you won't get caught." — Hunter

                    by Back In Blue on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 10:06:47 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  wrong on voucher proposals (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Deep Texan, bookgirl

                    in many cases there is no family income qualification

                    just like there was not in original form of No Child Left Behind.

                    There is no requirement that a non-public school take a voucher student

                    there is no requirement for schools receiving voucher students be subject to the same tests imposed on public schools

                    "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

                    by teacherken on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 10:08:41 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  Alternately (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    ManhattanMan

                    you can let the money follow the kids to any public school with spaces for enrollment. That's not income restricted.

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

                    by elfling on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 04:24:10 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

              •  Not according to Ohio DoE... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Mostel26

                ManhattanMan:

                Vouchers and Charters are incrementally better and they are politically possible today.  That is why I am for them.
                Stephen Dryer, referencing a newly released report from the Ohio DoE:
                How about Charter Schools, you ask?

                They scored worse an traditional school districts overall. Of the 224 Charter Schools that received VAM scores, 78 percent scored at or above expectations, while 21 percent scored below. About 25 percent of Charter Schools scored above expectations.

                While proponents may say the only fair comparison is with the Big 8 (which did worse overall than Charters on VAM), remember that all school districts in Ohio lost children and money to Charter Schools last year. Charter School proponents can't accept money and kids from every school district and then ask to not be compared with every school district on performance measures.

                Much more at the link.

                Does this mean we can expect your renunciation of vouchers and charters any time soon?

                •  Sometimes Charters... (0+ / 0-)

                  ...are good and sometimes they are bad.

                  Here in NYC they are good. They perform better than the regular public schools. You can check out the CREDO study, that I am too lazy to link.

                  The real benefit of charters is that they give families more choice and control over their child's education. This helps keep families from fleeing the public schools for private/homeschools.  This also keeps political support for publicly-funded education strong.

                  Let me repeat that. "This also keeps political support for publicly-funded education strong."

                  By the way, I notice your link claiming that charters are bad is a study of (gasp!) standardized test scores and was analyzed using (double gasp!) Value-Added-Measurement.

                  Does this mean we can expect your embrace of these two methods of measuring performance?

                  I love how the anti-reformers claim that data-driven methods are invalid...until they find one that busts on Charter Schools. Then they gleefully link it, without a trace of shame...

                  Seriously, though. There are some states/localities with horrible charter school systems. Allowing for-profits, cherry-picking, dumping ESL kids, etc. All of these are marks of a Bad Charter Policy. My point is that we need a Good Charter Policy.

                  Please help make the reforms work, make positive suggestions that make them better.  

                  Don’t stand in the doorway
                  Don’t block up the hall
                  For he that gets hurt
                  Will be he who has stalled

                   - B. Dylan

                  The times are changing. Romney and Obama disagree on everything, but they agree on Charter Schools. This is going to happen. The only question is will it be done right or done wrongly.

                  •  About that CREDO report... (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Mostel26, teacherken
                    Rutgers report dispels many myths about charters' funding and performance

                    EAST LANSING, Mich. (Jan. 27, 2011) — In a blow to conventional wisdom, New York City charter schools are not outperforming traditional public schools and are not inadequately funded, according to a new study out of Rutgers University.

                    So much for that.
                    By the way, I notice your link claiming that charters are bad is a study of (gasp!) standardized test scores and was analyzed using (double gasp!) Value-Added-Measurement.
                    Nope. Just using a measure you often promote, so that you couldn't refuse to accept the results due to methodology. I personally still believe VAM is crap.
                    Seriously, though. There are some states/localities with horrible charter school systems. Allowing for-profits, cherry-picking, dumping ESL kids, etc. All of these are marks of a Bad Charter Policy.
                    That would be most of them.
                    My point is that we need a Good Charter Policy.
                    My point is that we need to stop working for the destruction of public education.
                    Please help make the reforms work, make positive suggestions that make them better.
                    Good idea! Let's start by improving public schools, instead of killing them!
          •  Are you aware that all white kids aren't rich? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Mostel26

            I went to a very good, interracial public school back in the late seventies and early eighties. My parents often thought about putting me in a private school and I'm very glad they didn't.

            When I was in high school, the white girls used to joke that the fastest route to a private school was dating a black boy. The courts ordered desegregation and the white parents started taking their kids out without waiting to see if the schools got better or worse. My school was integrated because there had been court ordered desegregation befrore my family moved to the town.

            I don't have figures for any town but the one where I went to school, but parents were far more likely to take kids out of the high school than the elemenatry school. Having lived it, I'm pretty sure dating was the root cause.

            There's only one way to truly integrate the schools and that's to deny parents any choice, and no one is about to go there. Integration is just a smoke screen so the public doesn's see Wall Street sucking from the public teat.

          •  All scenarios are possible (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            teacherken, Deep Texan

            In New York City, you have a strong public transportation system that probably ameliorates some of the barriers to parents choosing an alternate school.

            In California, there are many examples of charters that are being run on a very elite basis and are just short of demanding large contributions of money and time from parents. Pacific Collegiate Charter School in Santa Cruz, California demands $3,000 and 40 hours of volunteer time per student and calls and finally publishes a list of parents who have not contributed.

            Less than 10% of their kids are low income. The area as a whole has 40% low income kids.

            There is no question that some of the highly motivated parents who create charters do so as an alternative to a private school, for both the purpose of the curriculum and to get 'better' peers for their kids.

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

            by elfling on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 09:55:45 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Slavery was legal in the original Constitution. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Deep Texan

        The rule of law is a more implacable tyrant that any flesh and blood dictator, if it is used to deprive people of rights, rather than to promote just behavior.
        The deprivation of rights under cover of law makes immoral behavior legal. Using the law to deprive also undermines the very concept of justice.
        Our conservative friends are, for the most part, scofflaws.

        We organize governments to provide benefits and prevent abuse.

        by hannah on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 09:39:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Education is like Social Security... (4+ / 0-)

    ...it needs to have a reliable and predictable capacity not subject to the whims of the market, in this case parent triggers.

    (-9,-9) pragmatic incrementalist :-P

    by Enterik on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 05:45:21 AM PDT

    •  I get your point, but I think (0+ / 0-)

      there's a difference.  Social Security falls into the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" category.  At least for now.
      Public education, on the other hand, is failing too many kids in too many ways to deserve uncritical protection.

      As a citizen, I absolutely agree that a good public education is the essential right of every child.
      As a parent/grandparent, I completely sympathize with parents with kids in crappy schools who will take any lifeline- including charter schools- that will help their kids.  

      I'm not sure how to thread this needle, but I don't love the absolutism of insisting that alternative schools are always bad, or that parents should not fight for their kids in whatever way they think best.

      •  It's easy when you have kids in a great school. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elfling, Mostel26, ManhattanMan

        My children are in one of the top three public school systems in CT.  It's quite clear why it is so successful.  The money is there, the kids are all well cared for, social problems are minimal.  I know—shocking, right?

        If this country really wanted every kid to have the same great education all we'd have to do is determine how much money it would take to duplicate my kids school for every school in every district across the country.

        Think it can't be done? We give upwards of $800 billion in subsidies to industries that are incredibly profitable and often don't pay any taxes.  I doubt it would take half that, even a tenth of that.

        But this country doesn't really want that.  The oligarchs just see the opportunity to privatize and profit.  

        "Wall Street expertise, an industry in which anything not explicitly illegal is fair game, and the illegal things are fair game too if you think you won't get caught." — Hunter

        by Back In Blue on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 09:42:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Agreed- but what if your kids (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ManhattanMan

          were in a terrible school?  What if they had to contend with overcrowding and piss-poor resources and an unsafe school environment? What if you lacked the resources- financial and otherwise- to change that environment? What if the only option available to you for right now might be a charter school?

          I've never been in that situation personally, but I'm pretty sure I know what I'd do.  

          •  But then you have to ask yourself, why would (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Mostel26, Back In Blue

            the charter be better?

            There are usually one of three answers in play.

            1. It isn't actually better.
            2. The charter has attracted millions in outside grant money.
            3. The charter is getting only/mostly kids who come to school ready to learn and whose parents value education... at least value it enough to think about where their child should attend, apply, and then transport them there.

            By the blunt measure we use for schools, test scores, charters don't do better.

            Individual charters can be very attractive, and I'm not against local non-profit examples with innovative curriculum and style. But, we need to understand why they work, and for the most part it comes down to "better" kids and frequently more money, plus less money spent on transportation and special ed services. It's not the staff and it's not the governance structure.

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

            by elfling on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 10:34:54 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  As a matter of policy, sure I'd ask that question. (0+ / 0-)

              But as a matter of helping my kids out of a bad situation, that question would be secondary.
              Of course I agree that charters vary in quality, and my example presumed a good charter school alternative.

              I'll also admit to a certain amount of bias, based on what my daughter tells me.  She's been an educator for 20 years, as a public school teacher and now as a professor of education.  She's known quite a few parents- mostly African American- who feel that charters are the only hope for their kids.  And she sees more racial diversity in charters than in public schools in this area (Philadelphia and suburbs), where re-segregation is now the norm.

              That's the main reason she and her husband have chosen to send their kids to a progressive school (not a charter)- she can't change public schools to be truly integrated, and she's bound and determined that her kids will attend school in a diverse environment.  And trust me, she is not thrilled that she can only achieve that by paying for it.

              •  At the individual level (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Mostel26, ManhattanMan, Back In Blue

                sometimes the charter is the best school and when you're the parent you have to choose what is right for your kids from the choices offered.

                One of the things I've learned is how different education is from city to city, state to state.

                I am fine with charters cherry-picking and being a place for kids who are especially ready to learn as long as we all understand that's what's happening, and don't try to base policy on it, or expect that it will work for the system as a whole.

                The data show that US schools with < 10% of kids in poverty are very successful as far as test scores. Thus, moving a handful of kids from a 90% poverty school to a 10% poverty school is likely to benefit those kids. And that makes sense: having well off peers is beneficial, having a broad community to support a few low income kids is much more positive than having a majority community all drowning in financial difficulty.

                If we extrapolate, the answer is to put every child in a school with < 10% poverty. That's my personal goal for our nation's education system.

                Unfortunately, you can't do it just by moving the kids around in a nation with 25% child poverty. You have to actually reduce child poverty to achieve it, because we don't have enough rich kids to go around. #Arithmetic.

                So are some charter schools valuable right here and now? Sure. But they're not a systemic solution.

                I'm glad your daughter found a school that works for her kids, and I'm sorry that it's not always as easy as we'd like it to be.

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

                by elfling on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 04:17:01 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I should have edited more carefully (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Mostel26, Back In Blue

                  When I said "moving a handful of kids from a 90% poverty school to a 10% poverty school is likely to benefit those kids" I mashed up a couple of ideas. It may benefit them academically and socially and it may benefit their test scores - or not. Obviously we're in the realm of small numbers here, and I don't think anyone has actually teased out if low income kids get higher test scores if they're enrolled in a low poverty school, or if it's just that they still get low scores that are diluted among more high scores.

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

                  by elfling on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 04:22:19 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  The charter is better... (0+ / 0-)

              ...because it opens earlier, stays open later, and has a better student-to-teacher ratio. When the charter gets extra money, they don't blindly spend it on headcount. They evaluate and sometimes spend on (OMG!) infrastructure or technology.

              They also pull this off by paying teachers slightly less and giving them cheap, inexperienced assistant teachers.

              Teachers' Unions hate them for this.

              But Parents love it. That is why parents form lines around the block and enter lotteries to get in.

              Lastly, there is this (warning: unscientific personal anecdotal evidence ahead): When you call an NYC Public School you get voice-mail. When we enrolled in a Charter, the Principal gave me his cell-phone number. Charter schools want you to be there and they feel pain when you leave.

              Public Schools like it when you leave. That's one lest test to grade...

              •  Here are a few views of charters in various (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Mostel26, teacherken

                states that might prove useful, in judging charters...

                South Carolina

                Washington, D.C.

                Connecticut

                Louisiana

                Maine

                Pennsylvania

                Chicago, IL

                Philadelphia

                Minnesota

                But hey - you keep right on insisting that 'it's all about the good for the kids!' Someone, somewhere, might even believe you!

              •  Your problem, IMHO, in NYC (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Mostel26, Back In Blue

                is that the district is just too large.

                You can potentially solve it with charters... but you could also solve it with smaller districts.

                NYC is kind of a unique situation, and not necessarily the place I want to drive education policy for the rest of the nation.

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

                by elfling on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 09:58:19 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Actually, NYC is the best place... (0+ / 0-)

                  ...to look for the policy we need.

                  Smaller districts are bad -- all that does is increase segregation based on neighborhood. (In NYC as in the rest of the US, "neighborhood" means "race and class")

                  The politics of drawing NYC into districts would result in violence. Do you want to be the person responsible for telling someone who lives on W. 36th St. that they don't live in Chelsea -- but in "Hell's Kitchen"?

                  We need BIGGER districts, ideally a single national district so that funding gets equalized. Then we implement NYC's charter model which is:

                  1) Public schools which follow strict "plain vanilla" standards.
                  2) Magnet schools for artsy, nerdy, or other special kids (or kids who want to be special)
                  3) Strictly-regulated Charters of various ideologies and attitudes for parents who want to try something different.

                  "Strict regulation" of charters is the key. Most charter advocates are right-wing Free Market Worshipers. That is why they emphasize a no-rules approach to charters. Those districts are where we get the horror stories!

                  The NYC way is better. Charters are on a pretty tight leash and they are closely watched at all times. This prevents abuses.

                  •  surely you are joking? (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Back In Blue, Mostel26

                    given how Bloomberg and his mayoral control heads of public education have totally undermined anything except their favored charters, given preferential treatment to the likes of Eva Moscowitz and others?  Sorry, but you are losing all credibility in this discussion

                    "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

                    by teacherken on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 06:54:41 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  Have you considered aquaculture? (0+ / 0-)

                    I know of a high school with a new sustainable aquaculture/hydroponics facility that has been very successful at engaging students and developing their general skills.

                    I am certain that if you installed one of these in every high school in New York City, that your achievement would increase. If it works here, it should work everywhere. I'm sure of it.

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

                    by elfling on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 09:27:28 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

          •  My kids were in a not so good school system. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            gramofsam1

            I've commented and written a diary about it before, but the short story is we moved to a large city in the suburbs of CT and while elementary school seemed to be good, middle-school proved to be a big problem.  We decided to move and did so.

            Now, to your point, we had the resources to do so.  But we jumped through a lot hoops to make it happen because we promised our daughter that she wouldn't have to go back to her old school.  

            The situation you describe I am thankful I have not been in nor do I expect to be.  I would not fault a desperate parent for doing anything they could.  I'd probably home school my child the best I could (if I could make it work and still support my family, of course.)

            However, my point was that this scenario wouldn't exist is the American people really wanted every kid to have a great education and not be forced to deal with this.  The truth is that they don't care and far too many fight tooth and nail to make sure they don't pay for anyone else, especially if they're "undeserving".

            "Wall Street expertise, an industry in which anything not explicitly illegal is fair game, and the illegal things are fair game too if you think you won't get caught." — Hunter

            by Back In Blue on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 11:35:45 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Of course, the larger problem (0+ / 0-)

              is just as you describe.  The micro problem is challenging in a different way.

              Personally, I would not have considered homeschooling in that situation- not because I object to the concept but because I would suck at it.  Ask my kids how much they enjoyed me helping them with homework.  I have no idea how my daughter became a gifted teacher, must be a recessive gene.

              •  The micro problem is temporary (0+ / 0-)

                in that it is always changing.  Fixing policy and funding can solve it.  Frankly, I don't believe it will ever be solved because I don't see the American people wanting actually wanting to solve it.  

                "Wall Street expertise, an industry in which anything not explicitly illegal is fair game, and the illegal things are fair game too if you think you won't get caught." — Hunter

                by Back In Blue on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 08:13:56 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  Privatization is corporate rule (3+ / 0-)

    Every privatization act takes away democracy.  What real voice do voters have when it comes to privatized government?  

    I wonder how the privatization proponents would respond to the suggestion of "parent triggers" on whether charter schools should be replaced by public schools?

    Actually, no.  I don't wonder.

    I am become Man, the destroyer of worlds

    by tle on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 05:59:06 AM PDT

    •  There already are... (0+ / 0-)

      ...parent triggers that change charter schools to private schools.

      Parents can simply remove their kids. Unlike public schools, nobody is forced to attend a charter.

      •  ? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mostel26

        Contrary to what you claim, nobody is forced to attend a public school.  They're just forced to attend a school - (or do home schooling).

        I am become Man, the destroyer of worlds

        by tle on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 08:02:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  In the two California cases (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mostel26

        the neighborhood school site would have been converted, so parents would effectively be forced to choose the charter. Distances are larger out here, so the next school over would require busing and longer commute times for kids, if they so chose.

        The trigger in both cases proposed to change governance from a locally elected school board to a for-profit charter operator that had no direct obligatory oversight from the community.

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

        by elfling on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 10:37:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  For-profit charters are horrible. (0+ / 0-)

          But a parent trigger that converted to a non-profit charter would be a good thing.

          •  The parent trigger in California (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Mostel26, teacherken

            is done by petition with no public discussion or notice. It's not a vote and it's not democratic.

            By contrast, you can imagine a process where the affected community votes in a regular election or after a public hearing where everyone lays out the alternatives.

            My daughter's district is one where the community fought to break away from a larger district. But, they remain public schools with an elected board. A process like that would make far more sense.

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

            by elfling on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 09:44:30 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  and the one place where it was done (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Mostel26

              and IIRC that was Adelanto?   a significant number of the parents want to rescind their signatures but were not allowed to by a judge

              "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

              by teacherken on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 06:55:39 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  In both cases, parents asked to rescind their (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Mostel26

                signatures.

                In the Adelanto case, some of the charter operators under consideration actually have lower test scores than the target school.

                In addition, in Adelanto, there was no attempt to change the school board and the school had a brand new principal, mostly to address concerns about the school that the board had.

                What a waste of time and resources and energy. The money that's been spent on lawyers could have hired a couple of new teachers for the smaller class sizes that parents wanted and it probably would have paid for the nurse they wanted, too.

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

                by elfling on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 09:31:45 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks teacherken for the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mostel26

    background information on this film.  I have been seeing the ads on tv but did not understand the plot of the movie.

    I will not be spending my money to see this film.

  •  Like you, teacherken, I have a commitment to (6+ / 0-)

    public schools.  I serve on the school board here in my district.  It is a privilege I do not take lightly and it is a task I encourage more Progressives to undertake.  

    Until we somehow manage to wrest our country from its Randian obsession with business, I fear all of our public institutions will continue to be at the mercy of the "business model" where students are viewed as "products" and parents are "customers."  Of course the (unstated) goal of this model is to fracture the Social Compact and divorce people from their sense of community and responsibility.  

    Too many people are making decisions about schools who haven't even stepped inside a school for years.  They bring all their own emotional baggage to the table.  Too many choose to remember only that one teacher they hated and form all their decision-making around that experience.  Too many remember classrooms where they had time for art, science, music and P.E.  They think that kids still experience school the way they did and do not realize how tough the new curricula are.  There is no way that most of the people making decisions about schools today would survive in today's schools.  They would fail.

    And yet, they want to use their votes to shape schools--not based on research into best practices, but based on a political paradigm that has failed to even produce an economy that works for everyone.      

    Metaphors be with you.

    by koosah on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 06:07:36 AM PDT

    •  So very true (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mostel26

      I encourage everyone to attend a school board meeting once in a while, too.

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

      by elfling on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 10:38:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I used to work on Wall Street. (0+ / 0-)

      Banks need to be regulated. The people calling for this regulation (such as Occupy) generally have no banking experience.

      This does not invalidate their right to be heard. It also does not mean that they are wrong -- they are usually spot on.

      It would be wrong for bankers to say that only bankers can propose bank reforms.

      It would be wrong for the Military to say only Veterans and Defense Contractors could demand Pentagon reforms.

      It's also wrong to say that only educators have any credibility on education reforms. Like the Banking Crisis, the people who have presided over the mess should be the last people we listen to for advice.

      •  By that reasoning, we should only have (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mostel26

        garbage collectors presiding over nuclear power plant policy.

        There are many people with strong understanding of economics and banking who do not also own or run banks. There are not all that many people with a strong understanding of what makes a successful teaching/learning environment currently presiding over education policy.

        Certainly not Duncan, and apparently not Obama.

        •  Just because somebody... (0+ / 0-)

          ...disagrees with me doesn't me they don't understand the problem.

          But Obama does understand something that I suspect you do not: The political climate in America strongly favors reform.

          - Charters are going to happen.

          - VAM is going to happen.

          - Parental School Choice is going to happen.

          - Even Vouchers may happen...!

          We need to decide if we are going to be one of the ones shaping these policies or if we are going to leave it all up to ALEC and Michelle Rhee.

          The Teachers' Unions have been the strongest bloc in the Progressive coalition. We will need them in the future. I would hate to see them become a casualty. Especially if they become so while fighting on the Wrong Side of History.

          •  Not to go all Godwin on you, but... (0+ / 0-)

            I imagine there were quite a few people who supported Hitler because it was going to happen, and didn't want to become a casualty.

            That doesn't make it right, or even a good idea.

            Things only happen because people make them happen. In my mind, it is far better to work for something worth working for than to happily conspire to one's own detriment.

            It's even worse when one is working toward the detriment of others.

      •  Absolutely people have the right to be heard (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mostel26

        That's why we have publicly elected school boards. That's why people should start there first - and in neither case in the California examples did they do so.

        The parent trigger takes away the right to be heard, once the trigger is pulled.

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

        by elfling on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 09:33:15 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Unfortunately, I live in Fauquier County (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ohkwai, ManhattanMan, Focusmarker

    where the public schools are not so good.  Because the School Board and the county are run primarily by Republicans, our teachers are the lowest paid of any of the surrounding counties. The majority of our teachers are relatively inexperienced and once teachers get a few years of experience under their belt, they leave for higher paying jobs in Prince William, Loudouin or Fairfax counties.  In order to keep their pledge of "no new taxes" the Republican Board of Supervisors and School Board just eliminated all Middle School Sports and all Middle School and High School Orchestra ensembles.  

    Of course they are very high on Abstinence Education and pay a remarkable amount of money for abstinence programs.  They also like to keep students motivated by fear.  For example, my daughter's 11th grade AP Language teacher gave the students the most recently released AP language test as a benchmark.  OK--no problem with that.  Then he counted it as a test grade for the grading period.  When I asked him the pedagogical purpose of this insanity, he said that the English department had decided that students needed to be motivated (because, as everyone knows, the AP students are slackers).

    The American History teacher (and high school football coach) told the students in his class last week that he hated both candidates for President.

    Most students who want any hope of doing well on the math section of the SAT have math tutors (who cost from 65-100 dollars per hour).  

    Anyone who wants to see what happens when radical Republicans control the school system in a county, move to Fauquier County VA with your school aged children.  You will be tearing out your hair in frustration with the rest of us soon enough.

    While I agree with everything you said about the movie, Teacherken, I can also sympathize with parents who are at their wits end over how their public schools are run.  I don't want to takeover my child's school, I want to see a Board of Supervisors and a School Board who care more about children's education than they do about saving their rich Republican pals a few bucks in local taxes.  

    What our public schools need are motivated engaged parents who vote and candidates who care more about the quality of public education than about ridiculous tax pledges or running schools like businesses.  

    Feminism is the radical notion that women are people. ~Cheris Kramarae and Paula Treichler

    by Tchrldy on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 06:14:53 AM PDT

    •  It sounds like you guys... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gramofsam1

      ...could benefit from Parent Triggers and Charters.

      If parents in Fauquier County had more power to choose, they could demand more progressive education.

      They could start Charters that teach real science and have arts and sports -- and use County money to pay for them.

      Anti-reformers love to complain about charter schools run by right-wing creationists. But what about when the right-wingers win elections and take over the Public Schools?

      In that case, Charters become a lifeboat.

      •  I don't think charter schools are the answer (5+ / 0-)

        Parents need to vote out Republican County Supervisors and School Board members who consistently vote for austerity on the backs of our children to placate their Republican pals. Parents need to demand that our children's teachers be paid a livable wage so we can attract experienced teachers who can explain math to the entire class so all students can understand the concepts rather than just those students who have tutors.  After school tutoring programs should be the norm in our communities with both paid staff and volunteers.  These things will only happen if parents get involved both in voting for county supervisors who are willing to put their money where their mouth is and getting rid of the tea partiers on our school board.  

        Feminism is the radical notion that women are people. ~Cheris Kramarae and Paula Treichler

        by Tchrldy on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 08:13:05 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  It sounds like they could benefit (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mostel26

        from organizing a better slate of candidates for school board and getting them elected.

        It would probably be easier, cost less money, and bonus, would help all the kids.

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

        by elfling on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 10:40:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  There's a relevant response inside... (0+ / 0-)
        Anti-reformers love to complain about charter schools run by right-wing creationists. But what about when the right-wingers win elections and take over the Public Schools?

        Groucho says it all...

        •  Don't be snarky. (0+ / 0-)

          Did you not just read Tchrldy's comment?

          This actually happens. Haven't you heard of certain states mandating semi-creationism, abstinence-only sex ed, climate denial, ect.?

          Public Schools are run by elected officials. Tell me (for example) which of the 47 Republican Senators you would trust your child to? Jim Inhofe? Rand Paul?

          •  Chicken Little. (0+ / 0-)
            Anti-reformers love to complain about charter schools run by right-wing creationists. But what about when the right-wingers win elections and take over the Public Schools?

            In that case, Charters become a lifeboat.

            Senators don't create local school policy, local school boards do. Local school boards generally reflect the local population.
          •  It is the responsibility of the people (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Mostel26

            to choose good representatives for their government, and this includes schools.

            It is an easy matter in most places to run for school board.

            And even where it is not, the organization required to affect a school board is less than that for a parent trigger.

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

            by elfling on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 09:35:23 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  I'm still stuck on the AP teacher... (0+ / 0-)

      He gave the AP practice as a benchmark. I get that. I do that as an AP Lang teacher myself, but doesn't this fool realize that all he's done is penalize kids for all the things they didn't know because he hasn't taught them that yet? If they knew everything, they wouldn't be in the class.

      Yeah, I'd have a conversation with an administrator if this were my child.

      "If they give you ruled paper, write the other way" Juan Ramon Jimnez

      by Teiresias70 on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 02:31:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The parents should have control. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gramofsam1

    The parents are closest to their kids and know more about their kids than anybody else. If they are so profoundly disturbed by the condition of the school that they want a charter, they should have one.

    It would be much better if a new building was built.  This would cost money, but it would be well-worth it.

    But if the money is not available (or if the community has such low confidence in the public schools that they refuse to pass higher taxes) the school should be switched.

    Otherwise, the public school will have no incentive to change. If parents organize and make demands, the System knows that they only need to wait a few years -- when the kids of the "vocal" parents graduate, the pressure will cease.

    Parents need ongoing powerful tools to force Public School bureaucrats to reform. Rich parents have these tools -- they can afford private school.

    But for those of us not named "Romney", Private School is not an option. Parents need the power to make their existing schools better.

    Also I take issue with the Diarist's statement that:

    "There is no evidence that charters perform better than do public schools."
    The evidence is mixed. Sometimes charters are better, sometimes they are not. But even if they are not, giving parents the power of choice will make them more invested in the school and more likely to support funding for education. Once the parents move to Private School or Home-schooling, they are much less likely to vote for that tax levy! This has been happening for decades, and is a reason why our schools are underfunded.
    •  Which parents? :-) (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mostel26, teacherken

      If you have parents sign a petition for a junior high school with only two grades, by the time the trigger is implemented, their children will be aged out.

      A school belongs to the community. Not to the parents. It belongs to the people whose children are not yet old enough for school as much as those who have just graduated.

      There's no mechanism to undo a trigger.

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

      by elfling on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 10:45:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Parents should have the power. (0+ / 0-)

      But it doesn't have to destroy public schools in the process.  The same amount of energy required to pass that vote, build that charter school, make sure it accepts all the kids that want to go to it, make sure it succeeds, etc., etc. could be directed right at the existing public schools.   I also think parents with kids in the school should have more say in these matters.

      "Wall Street expertise, an industry in which anything not explicitly illegal is fair game, and the illegal things are fair game too if you think you won't get caught." — Hunter

      by Back In Blue on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 11:23:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Uh, don't "public institutions" serve the Public? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ManhattanMan, gramofsam1

    You seem to be advocating against the popular vote of the schools constituents--parents--in favor of special interests. Especially flawed is the notion that immigrant considerations would trump non immigrant voters.

    "If the past sits in judgment on the present, the future will be lost." Winston Churchill

    by Kvetchnrelease on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 06:31:48 AM PDT

    •  you are defining constituents narrowly (3+ / 0-)

      if parents were paying all the costs, that would be a different problem

      look at the figures in Arlington - only about 10% of households have children in public schools.  All households pay for the public schools, except for those in diplomatically owned housing.

      So even though I am not a parent I am a constituent, and my voice should be included.  

      Vote to take schools out in district wide referenda and it might be a different story.  Then at least most of those who pay taxes (and who are citizens) would at least have a vote on how their taxes would be spent.

      The structure of parent trigger laws is fundamentally undemocratic.

      "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

      by teacherken on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 06:37:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It is not undemocratic. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gramofsam1, Kvetchnrelease

        The elected officials will be the ones who enact the Trigger Law. They delegate the trigger power to the parents.

        My taxes pay for Federal Food Stamps. But that does not give me the right to dictate if a poor family in another state should have Navy beans or Black beans for dinner tonight!  That power is delegated to the family receiving the benefit -- because the family knows best what they need to eat.

        Not random individuals who don't even know them. Even if those individuals are taxpayers.

    •  Should the parents of 6th graders have more (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mostel26

      say over the future of an elementary school than the parents of a 4 year old? The parent trigger doesn't give the parents of the 4 year old any say in the future of the school, or any way to rescind the trigger if it doesn't work out. There's no mechanism for the community (or even the school's then-current parents) to govern the triggered school once pulled.

      Schools belong to the community, not the particular parents who are involved with the school that year. The parent population can and does change on a faster timescale than the trigger law can be implemented.

      If people are in a large, unresponsive school district (not the case in either instance in the California cases), then I can see the point in the community petitioning to break off into its own smaller school district. In that case, the community gets its own governing Board and controls the future of its schools.

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

      by elfling on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 10:50:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I want to make sure I am not... (0+ / 0-)

    ...misreading this.

    Is the Diarist saying that letting parents vote on triggers is wrong because:

    1) Many of these parents are not citizens, and the power to decide how public money is spent should belong exclusively to citizens?

    and/or

    2) Many of the parents are not Property Taxpayers and only those who pay property tax should be allowed to allocate public funds?

    If so, this is pretty un-Progressive.  Going after immigrants and "the 47%" is the sort of thing we would expect from The Other Guys.

    It's also not that relevant. Most families in public schools are citizens and pay taxes. I don't think that we need to fear a dark conspiracy between illegal immigrants and foreign diplomats to take over our schools. Even bringing it up hints a little of xenophobia.

    •  boy you have trouble reading (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fuzzyguy, Mostel26

      some parents are not citizens and not allowed to vote - if you let them vote on a parent trigger you are allowing them while citizens who are paying taxes cannot

      that is a side issue

      all constituents should have a say in the expenditures for public education -  I am not a parent, but half of the taxes on my home go for my local public schools.  Allowing less than 10% of the families in our jurisdiction to direct how the taxes of all of us are spent is fundamentally undemocratic.  If you cannot understand that, then I wonder why you are on a Democratic blog.  Are you like those Republicans who want to argue those not paying federal income taxes should not be allowed to vote, even though Republicans in the past strongly supported both the EITC and the child care credit that contribute so much to lowering the adjusted gross income of so many below the threshold for income taxes.

      "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

      by teacherken on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 06:58:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think mentioning immigrants (3+ / 0-)

        was not a good way to make your argument, especially because I suspect immigrants are not that large a portion of parents...the main difference between the universe of voters and the universe of families with children in school is simply that not all adults have children, and those who do only have children in school for a limited time, i.e. approximately 7 years per child out of an adult lifespan of ~60 years.

        Just because one is not a parent doesn't mean one doesn't have an interest in public schools...good schools are a prerequisite to a prosperous community. A community where kids are engaged and learning is a community where crime is low and businesses have no trouble finding qualified potential employees.

        Unfortunately the prevalence of Reaganism has convinced people that anything that is public...that is shared with the community at large...is worthless by definition.

        "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

        by Alice in Florida on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 08:17:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Common theme with M-Man (0+ / 0-)

        He's beed duped and is beyond the intellectual pale. One hopes he'll come around eventually like Diane Ravitch did.

  •  Now that the public has authority, the object (0+ / 0-)

    is to be rid of the public. Individuals and groups want the money, but they don't want to be accountable to the public.

    I think when the history of the latter half of the 20th century is written, the access to information is going to be considered to have been more important than the expanded franchise and other civil rights measures.

    Power, it turns out, is intimately connected to secrecy and keeping information private.  When records have to be disclosed, then authority is under siege.

    Then too, minor humans are the last captive population. They belong to their parents, as if they were property and the parents are supposed to be grateful owners and never mind the deprivation of their other human rights.
    If private property rights are downgraded or relegated to unimportance, then rights such as privacy, bodily integrity, mobility, speech and recreation are going to come to the fore. Which means that people will no longer to be able to be bought off with things.
    Ownership is not a ship that will take people anywhere they will want to be.

    We organize governments to provide benefits and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 09:36:05 AM PDT

  •  NPR's Neal Conan was promoting "parent trigger" (0+ / 0-)

    laws on Talk of the Nation this morning. Here's a good article from PR Watch on ALEC, parent triggers and Won't Back Down.  

    The GOP ... Government of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%

    by Azazello on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 12:35:48 PM PDT

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