Parent Revolution

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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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.

Watts teachers urge public notice for parent trigger campaigns

The 2010 parent trigger law allows parents at persistently low-peforming schools to petition for sweeping changes, including overhauling staff and curriculum, closing the campus or converting to a publicly funded, independent charter.

The campaign against Cobian, launched by parents dissatisfied with her leadership and failure to raise the school’s low test scores quickly enough, marked the first success in removing an administrator under the law.

Platas also said teachers would push for public notification that petitions were about to be  submitted to give parents who want to withdraw their signatures the chance to do so. A San Bernardino County Superior Court judge ruled last year that the law does not allow recisions, but parents are allowed to remove their signatures before submission.

Ben Austin, Parent Revolution’s executive director, said the organization calls back all who sign a petition before submission to give them an opportunity to withdraw. But he said he would consider sending out a notice of the intent to submit to give parents a final chance to change their minds. Notification should not be sent out so far in advance that it would give petition opponents time to “scare” people into rescinding, he added.

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This Mom Is Ensuring a Better Education for All

By Tosten Burks

This profile is part of TakePart’s “Re-Visionaries” series, in which we highlight people who are shaking things up—and making a difference—in their field and community.

In 2006, when Shirley Ford and two other mothers in South L.A. started Parent Revolution, they simply wanted their children to enjoy a better experience in high school than they did in chronically underfunded public elementary and middle schools. After helping to pass California’s landmark parent-trigger legislation in 2010, which empowers a majority of parents to take control over failing schools and make decisions for its future, Parent Revolution has doubled down on its efforts to help families control their educational destiny. The organization recently launched the “Choice4LA” tool kit to provide comprehensive school data and walk parents through application and transfer processes. As director of community partnerships, Ford trains families and community groups to navigate the school system. The revolution continues.

PLF files brief in Anaheim school district ‘parent trigger’ law case

By Caleb Trotter

Today, PLF, along with Parent Revolution, filed this amicus brief in the California Court of Appeal in the case of Anaheim City School District v. Cecilia Ochoa. At issue in the case is whether California’s Parent Empowerment Act–also known as the “parent trigger”–applied to Palm Lane Elementary School in Anaheim during the 2013-14 school year. Parents used the Act to petition to convert Palm Lane into a charter school after the school was deemed a failing school year after year. The school district, however, tried to avoid the Act by claiming that the Act didn’t apply during the 2013-14 school year. Fortunately, the trial court rejected the school district’s arguments, but the school district has appealed.

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