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Update: Texas Close To Enacting Parent Trigger Law

image from rpmedia.ask.comThere are two new articles about parent triggers that have gone live today -- with dramatically different takes. More of a primer on the issue, TIME's Kayla Webley emphasizes the energy, controversy, and frustration behind trigger proposals in her piece, while noting that legislation has been proposed in 14 states and that the Texas version has passed both legislative chambers. EdWeek's Sean Cavanaugh paints much more of a glass half-empty scenario. He notes logistical and political obstacles standing in the way -- underplaying the ferocious political opposition a bit in my opinion (oppenents in California described it as a "lynch mob provision") -- but noting that the newness of the idea plays a part too (which is almost certainly true).  What both stories leave out is the reality that, while funded by Walton, Wasserman, and Gates, Parent Revolution and the whole parent trigger idea have been given the cold shoulder by most of the wonky center-left school reform community. Reformers already have a way to get new schools: charters.  Not many seem to have an appetite for fixing existing schools.  Even more fundamentally, the parent trigger is relatively simple, eye-catching and political (and relies on actual grassroots organizing).  It's a community organizer's version of school reform, or a politician's  (or a Republican's!) -- not a policy wonk's vision or a reformer's complicated scheme. And in today's reform world that's just too simple and too hard to control to be a favorite.  Image via.

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Alexander, you MUST know that "grassroots" organizing was not what happened in the phony Parent Trigger in Compton, CA.

Parent Revolution -- the charter operator-founded organization that wrote the law creating the Parent Trigger process -- looked around the state for a vulnerable school, chose the school, decided on charterizing, pre-selected the charter operator, and designed the sophisticated and well-funded signature-gathering operation -- all before a single parent at McKinley Elementary ever heard that this was happening.

I'm sorry, but it's just bogus to refer to that as "grassroots."

What I've seen is that "community organizer" types hear the hype for this process and think "wow, cool" -- and then learn that it's actually aimed at empowering charter operators, not parents.

It SOUNDS simple, but really isn't -- after all, can you really turn a public institution over to a private operator on the say-so of 50%+1 members of the community? Why don't we try this with police departments, freeways, parks or public hospitals? That's really not simple at all.

caroline you MUST know that just because you don't agree with something doesn't disqualify it. by your definition, pretty much every kind of community mobilization -- civil rights, housing, etc. -- wouldn't count. so many of them are funded from outside, by foundations. so many of them look for particularly problematic areas and issues. but from whatever perch you have hundreds of miles away you've decided only that this particular form isn't worthy. i don't get it, frankly, and it certainly isn't legitimate (or really even a substantive response to my post). not all of the trigger proposals nationally are even charter focused, as you may know. why are you so opposed to poor minority people getting informed and active and making a decision for their community? it seems really paranoid and undemocratic, as if you don't trust people to know what's best for them. who are you to say that their school is good enough for their kids, or that they shouldn't have other options? if you really think that the trigger option is so bad, go down to compton and organize against it -- try telling those parents that they should wait for something better.

oh, no! chicago public radio segment from earlier today about parents calling for changes at their school:

http://www.wbez.org/story/parents-cps-make-our-school-charter-87848

I'm not "opposed to poor minority people getting informed and active and making a decision for their community."

I am opposed to charter operators' manipulating parents into making a decision that benefits a pre-selected charter operator, through a furtive process that fails to inform the parents of their options and fails to allow for any sunshine or public dicussion at all.

Even if I thought it were a good idea to organize a countermovement in Compton, I don't have millions of dollars in Gates/Broad/Walton funding as Parent Revolution does (or any funding at all), so it would be a moot point.

I do think it would be productive to spend some of those millions on working with parents on how to truly empower them to support their children's education in a positive way, which would then improve their school. But that's not how the sources of the funds want it spent -- they want it used to "disrupt."

Being "funded from outside" is not really the issue. It's that Parent Revolution orchestrated the ENTIRE process with no participation from the parents whatsoever, then swooped in with it all prearranged for them and stuck the petitions in their faces. I'm sorry, that's just wrong; that's not parent involvement or parent empowerment, and it's not grassroots.

what you call manipulated is what the rest of us call informed -- it's not for you to judge how people decided to vote, or live, or what they sign or don't sign. and, seriously, how about you take the time to read the articles that i link to and digest the substance of the post, rather than trolling this site and others whenever a term shows up on your google alert. did you even read the articles? did you even read my blog entry? am guessing not.

Thank you for pointing out the subtle difference among reformers with regard to trigger provisions. That failure of appetite is widespread and sadly cynical. It's so much easier ti get results from an opt-in,self selected student population than from "fixing" a school with all the students in place.

One would hope that the ham handed Parent Revolution approach will not be replicated in other communities, replaced with a transparent, open process that involves all of the stakeholders in a sincere exploration of all of the options available, choosing the best fit for their community.

Alexander, I really don't think you can accuse me of ignorance on this issue.

My issue was with your characterizations. And I don't see how a commentator whose role is to stimulate discussion and debate can take issue with my voicing opinions. You mean I have no right to express my disapproval of a process that I believe (based on being as well-informed as it's possible to be without being right in the middle of it) to be dishonest, insincere, manipulative and exploitive?

If it's OK for you to voice approval of it, why is it not OK for me to voice disapproval?

(And yes, I had already read the Time article, and read the Ed Week article when you linked to it, and I read your whole blog post. Part of my response was to your comment: "... the parent trigger is relatively simple, eye-catching and political (and relies on actual grassroots organizing)..."

As I say, I disagree that it's simple, and I call that process exploitation, not grassroots organizing.

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