Lennie Jarratt

Johnson says work requirements, school choice provide path out of poverty

GOP governor candidate advocates school choice, more direct parental role.

He said he’s open to options like school vouchers or tax credits to support parents who want to send their children to another school. He would also push for a “parent trigger” law. It would allow parents to make dramatic reforms at a “failing” school — like turning it into a charter school — if a certain percentage of parents passed a referendum, he said.

His proposal came the same day as DFL gubernatorial candidate Lori Swanson said she would appoint a “career and technical education czar” to help prepare students to fill workforce gaps in areas like health care and information technology. DFL candidate Erin Murphy plans to announce her education agenda Tuesday, which she said would build on Gov. Mark Dayton’s work.

Continue reading at the Star Tribune…

Parent ‘Trigger’ Win in California Shines Light on Dysfunctional Public School System

The law, officially known as the Parent Empowerment Act, “creates a process which allows parents of students in low-performing schools to sign a petition to implement one of the intervention models,” according to the California Department of Education. Those models include replacing staff, turning the school into a charter, adding new programs or closing it down.

In 2014, the Anaheim superintendent sent letters to parents noting that the school “failed to meet the English-language arts and mathematics proficiency targets.” Many parents already knew that Palm Lane was failing the kids, so they decided to pull the proverbial trigger. School officials in general tend to dislike accountability laws and charters, so it wasn’t surprising that, instead of helping the parents, Anaheim officials fought them.

Those who want to see how poorly the district treated the parents need only read the California appeals court’s decision from late April. As the ruling detailed, former state Sen. Gloria Romero, the Los Angeles Democrat who authored the trigger law and was assisting Anaheim parents, complained to the district that anonymous people identifying themselves as district employees had been calling petition signers and telling them that their names don’t “match” school records.

“Even if you are personally opposed to enforcement of the parent trigger law, I am sure you do not wish for these parents and their children to suffer unnecessarily,” Romero wrote, according to the court. “Obviously, your callers should stop making statements that sound like the parents are accused of wrongdoing, and the callers should identify themselves.”

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Let the parents of Palm Lane win

By  | Orange County Register

The kids at Palm Lane won again. Last week, the Fourth Appellate District court upheld the right of parents at Palm Lane Elementary in Anaheim to turn it into a charter school.

The appellate court’s unanimous decision builds on the Anaheim Elementary School District’s 2015 loss, when Orange County Superior Court Judge Andrew Banks found the district’s actions in denying the parents of Palm Lane’s request to transform their school under the state’s parent-trigger law “procedurally unfair, unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious.”

But the district still seems to be in denial about the outcomes for Palm Lane students.


The Anaheim Elementary School District must show that it is not content with failure. End this fight with the parents of Palm Lane.

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Will Anaheim school district let parent trigger win stand?

By | Orange County Register

Elementary School District Superintendent Linda Wagner spent $1 million to beat up working-class parents in court for more than two years, and last week she lost.

Parents of children at Palm Lane School used an innovative California statute called the Parent Trigger Law to transfer management of their long-failing school to a charter school. Wagner, superintendent of the Anaheim Elementary School District, went to court to block the parents. Last week’s appeals court decision put an end to this phase of Wagner’s war, telling the superintendent to let the people go.

There was never any question that Palm Lane School had failed the community. Even Wagner acknowledged it.

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In ‘Parent-Trigger’ Case, California Appeals Court Sides With Parents Seeking Change

By guest blogger Lesli Maxwell

A group of California parents seeking to use a state law to convert a district-run elementary school into a charter school notched a legal victory Friday in a long-running battle with an Orange County school district.

A panel of state appellate judges ruled unanimously to affirm a lower court’s earlier ruling that the Anaheim City school district can’t block the parents’ petition to convert their childrens’ school into a charter, according to a news release from Kirkland & Ellis LLP, the law firm that represents the parents in the case.

The case, which pits the Anaheim district against parents from Palm Lane Elementary School, has been dragging on for more than two years.

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Parent centers proliferating at LAUSD, leading to better test scores, attendance and engagement


One of the most popular classes at 20th Street Elementary School has 43 dedicated students who come twice a week.

They’re all parents.

The parents of this 600-student school just south of downtown Los Angeles come here to learn English. They do projects for teachers. They discuss school issues. Their children even help them with their English homework. And it’s all taking place at one of the most active rooms on campus: the parent center.

LA Unified officials, board member Monica Garcia and about 50 parents gathered Tuesday to dedicate the new parent center with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and student performances. The ceremony also marked a healing of sorts among divided parents who had twice moved to use a “parent trigger,” a California law that allows parents to take over a failing school.

District officials and the school board have come to realize that encouraging more parent centers on school campuses leads to more community engagement, higher attendance and eventually better test scores and higher graduation rates.

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LA parents head to Sacramento for this week’s vote to plead for an overall rating to assess schools

“In the absence of a summative rating for a school, it becomes very difficult for families to hold schools accountable for what happens within the walls,” said Seth Litt, executive director of Parent Revolution, an organization that helps parents push for better educational opportunities in their neighborhoods including using the “parent trigger” law to take over low-performing schools.

His group, as well as Families in Schools, Innovate Public Schools, Speak UP and Students for Education Reform have launched a petition asking the state Board of Education to adopt an overall rating system.

Litt said even though schools’ API scores haven’t been updated for two years, parents are still relying on them to evaluate a school because it’s something they can understand.

Litt said he is encouraged by some moves the board has made in choosing specific indicators, such as evaluating schools based on climate and how many students are being suspended.

“We just think the state board needs to finish the job and provide an overall summative rating,” he said.

A summative rating might be a number or a letter, or it could be a categorization of a school based on a color (green, yellow or red), or an assessment, such as low, improving, quality or excellent, Litt said. The group is not advocating for a return to the API score.

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Despite district rules, Haddon Elementary increases enrollment and decreases absenteeism with unique programs


Haddon Elementary Avenue School is so in demand that families want to drive their children across the San Fernando Valley from Granada Hills to attend the Pacoima school.

Haddon is not a charter school, it’s not a new pilot program and it’s not a magnet school (yet). It’s a traditional Title 1 district school in a low-income Latino neighborhood that has been there since 1926.

But it wasn’t always growing. And in fact it had to fight district rules that prohibited families from moving to the school.

Five years ago, parents were so fed up with the school that they initiated a “parent trigger” to try to take over the school from the district. The trigger was never pulled, and a new principal came in who brought programs students wanted, like a Mariachi class, a robotics program and an award-winning speech and debate team.

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California ‘Parent Trigger’ Battle Ends in Compromise

By Jenni White

California’s 20th Street Elementary School will be under new management this fall after a group of parents used the state’s Parent Empowerment Act, also known as the “parent trigger” law.

California’s 20th Street Elementary School will be under new management this fall after a group of parents used the state’s Parent Empowerment Act, also known as the “parent trigger” law, to reach an agreement with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD).

California’s parent trigger law allows parents dissatisfied with their children’s low-performing school to sign a petition to intervene by  “replacing all or some of the staff, turning the school over to a charter operator, transforming it through some programs, or closing the school altogether,” according to the California Department of Education website.

The first “trigger” 20th Street parents pulled on LAUSD in 2014 led to an agreement with the district to provide several concessions to improve the floundering school. Parents were not satisfied with the district’s level of fulfillment of its promises, and they filed a second parent trigger petition in February 2016, which 262 parents signed. The district initially rejected the second petition, saying it wasn’t valid because the district is exempt from using the performance measurement the petition requested.

The two sides reached a deal in July, avoiding a lawsuit. Accepting the district’s concession 20th Street would not become an independent charter school, parents chose to join the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, a nonprofit organization that manages 17 other Los Angeles schools. In a press release, LAUSD said, “The Partnership is dedicated to bringing additional resources to high-need schools and generating innovative solutions that can be implemented districtwide.”

Persistence Seen as Key

Gabe Rose—chief strategy officer of Parent Revolution, the group that helped organize the petition drive to activate both parent trigger campaigns—says parents had to keep pushing the district to provide results.

“We first met some of the 20th Street parents back in March 2014, when they approached us asking for help,” Rose said. “They were very frustrated with their school’s performance, but they felt like they hadn’t been able to get the district to make changes on their own. We’ve been working with them and helping them ever since.”

Rose says the second petition was necessary, because after the district “[promised] parents the moon, everything felt like business as usual.”

Parent Victory

Rose says the parent trigger parents are satisfied with the agreement.

Partnership for Los Angeles Schools is an organization that runs schools within LAUSD; [it] has a proven track record of raising achievement at the lowest-performing schools in LAUSD, where they currently run 17 schools,” Rose said. “It is empowered to manage the day-to-day instructional program at the school. Parents wanted new management for the school that could deliver on promises of change, and they believe that is what they have now.”

‘Parents Back in Charge’

Larry Sand, president of the California Teachers Empowerment Network, says the parent trigger law gives parents the power they deserve.

“The beauty of the law is that it takes teachers unions out of the picture and puts parents back in charge,” Sand said. “Instead of bureaucrats and union bosses making decisions about a child’s education, it puts parents front and center.”

Sand says the parent trigger law also functions as a spur for change.

“It’s sad it has to come to that, but if a school has become complacent, a [parent trigger] jolt may be just what the doctor ordered,” Sand said. “Parent Empowerment threatens the education status quo, and that’s just what a sclerotic system needs.”

Jenni White (jlwplusdmw@gmail.comwrites from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Originally posted at The Heartland Institute.

First ‘Parent Trigger’ School Can Stay In District-Owned Building, Arbitrator Rules

By Sarah Tully

The first school in the nation to successfully use a “parent trigger” law can stay in its building after winning a dispute with the school district.

Desert Trails Preparatory Academy, in Adelanto, Calif., began classes this month for the 2016-17 school year just days after an arbitrator ruled that it could remain in the school building, which is owned by the Adelanto Elementary School District, according to the San Bernardino Sun.

Desert Trails became the first school to successfully convert to a charter after parents petitioned to take over the low-scoring school through the 2010 Parent Empowerment Act. After a bitter dispute, Desert Trails and the Adelanto district entered into a charter agreement, which included use of the facility, from July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2016.

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In Parent-Trigger School Fight, Kirkland Lawyers Get an A+

By Jenna Green

The kids are already back in school at Desert Trails Preparatory Academy in Adelanto, California, a dusty town of 32,000 in the Mojave Desert. School officials keep the break short so the kids don’t fall behind.

That the independent charter school’s 500 pupils have a campus to return to is due in large part to pro bono efforts by a team of litigators from Kirkland & Ellis, who won an essential ruling from an arbitrator last week.

It’s the latest victory for Kirkland in a long and controversial fight involving the so-called parent-trigger movement, which gives parents the power to force change at failing public schools.

It’s gone from ranking tenth out of the 10 elementary schools in the district to number three in English and number five in math.

Great, right? But that’s not the happy ending.

In December, the local school board voted not to renew the school’s charter.

“Sadly, rather than applauding [Desert Trails] and supporting its continued success, the district is attempting, yet again, to destroy [Desert Trails] and ‘take back’ the school–this time, by manufacturing a series of illegitimate ‘findings’ as a pretext to deny [Desert Trail’s] petition to renew its charter,” Holscher, Weinstein and Danna wrote in March a petition demanding arbitration.

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LAUSD inks deal to avoid ‘parent trigger’ or lawsuit at southeast LA elementary school

The Los Angeles Unified School District has inked a deal bringing in an outside school turnaround group to run 20th Street Elementary School, averting a protracted court battle over a long-running “parent trigger” effort that would’ve wrested the school from the district’s control.

Under terms of a five-year agreement released Tuesday, the Partnership for L.A. Schools — a non-profit created by former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa that already operates 17 schools — would assume control over most day-to-day operations at the school just south of downtown.

The decision represents a compromise between the district and parent advocates at the school, who in February petitioned the district to allow an independent charter operator to run the school. Under California law, if parents at low-performing schools gather enough signatures, the school district can be forced to introduce changes, including converting the school to a charter.

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