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Movies: Two Parent Trigger Flicks In The Works For 2012

image from www.indiewire.com

There are not one but two different movies about the California parent trigger coming out sometime in the not too distant future.

One is a documentary called We The Parents, the other is a dramatized version of the story now called Learning To Fly scheduled to come out in the fall starring Maggie gyllanhaal, Viola Davis, Holly Hunter and Rosie Perez. Yes, it's being produced by Walden Films, who put out Waiting For Superman (and the Chronicles of Narnia).

What I find most interesting  about the parent trigger idea is that educators, self-appointed parent advocates, and -- yes -- reform types (with the notable exception of Michelle Rhee) all seem not to like it very much.  

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I have to challenge the snark of "self-appointed" before parent advocates. So if I call myself a parent advocate, since I'm a parent and an unpaid volunteer advocate, I get hit with a blast of cynicism? (But I've also served, as a volunteer, in too many PTA positions to count, on the unit and district level, and have served on the board of Parents for Public Schools-San Francisco, so on that level I've been elected by other parents many times over -- am I still "self-appointed"?)

But yes, the Parent Trigger was intended to benefit charter operators, while waging war on teachers. Attacking teachers as the enemy to be destroyed is not a formula for successfully improving education. Only the uninformed or truly craven and mendacious (hello Ms. Rhee) would put any faith in it.

By the way, the participation of Viola Davis in what seems likely to be another piece of lying propaganda is sad and ironic. When the entire staff of Central Falls HS in Rhode Island was fired, in the execution of a corporate-reform coup, Davis went to the school, which was her alma mater, to stand up and speak out in support of the teachers. I'm assuming that she was misinformed about the nature, intent, tactics and origin of the Parent Trigger scam.

What is a non-self-appointed parent advocate? Please explain.

someone who's advocating for parents at their behest is one thing. that person has been authorized and is responsible for conveying parent's views accurately. someone advocating for parents without any such invitation or obligation is self appointed, in my book at least.

Hmm. Words like "authorize", "appointed", "responsible" don't really reflect the reality of life out here in parent-land. Schools are organic; parents find their niche and give their time and energy in all kinds of ways, formal and informal.

At the moment, I'm not sitting on the site council or PTA board of my kids' schools, but if you were to poll my community for names of parent advocates, my name would likely come up. I know lots of people without formal authority, invitation or obligation who advocate effectively locally and beyond.

Your post seems to imply people like me lack credibility. Would I be more authentic if I were to wear a Parent Revolution t-shirt or a state PTA badge?

That doesn't compute, Alexander, so I challenge it as uncalled-for and gratuitous snark and cynicism.

If I advocated for a specific parent or family in a specific situation (which I have done in various situations, at the parent's or family's behest), that would be one thing. If I spoke up for that parent or family without being asked, yes, I could be legitimately described as "self-appointed."

But when I speak up as a parent on behalf of parents as a group, there is no process by which "parents" would make the request. So I challenge the snark and cynicism of attempting to discredit me (and other parent advocates) by adding "self-appointed." That's just wrong. If I speak up for other causes (as I do), such as low-income families, children with disabilities, gay youth or gays who wish to marry, are you also going to snark at me as "self-appointed"?

the post isn't aimed at one side or the other -- there are lots of people out there claiming to be parent advocates that i don't think have the chops to back that up.

what you're describing sounds like it qualifies -- for your school at least. i don't care about the formal title. it doesn't make you an advocate for other parents' schools, however.

being a parent, or even a parent advocate, for school A doesn't make you anything more than an informed outsider at school B, IMHO.

People resent these stupid ideas because nothing will come of it as long as the kids are poor.

Child poverty rate in world leading Finland 4%

Child poverty rate in USA 20%

If you want a Finland level education, you need a Finland child poverty rate. Absolutely nothing else works, nothing.

Most parents have their feet in several schools. Even if they have just one child, they will be part of 2-3 school communities over the years. If they live in an area with many options, they may well be part of 4-6+ schools before their youngest graduates from high school.

Furthermore, the bulk of advocacy happens at the district level (and state and beyond). That's where policy, personnel and budget decisions reside. Parent advocates may learn the ropes at one school, but they pretty quickly move beyond those school boundaries to effect change. So being an advocate most likely does not mean you are an outsider at other schools in your community.

Having "chops" to be an advocate isn't something that is certified by some authority. It's rolling up the sleeves, learning how things work and speaking up. When that happens authentically, it doesn't matter where your kids go to school; your voice is welcomed throughout the community.

What are parent trigger movies?

"being a parent, or even a parent advocate, for school A doesn't make you anything more than an informed outsider at school B, IMHO."

Wow- so if you are a parent in a school district who wants to speak out to support all children in your district , you are an outsider for all schools but the ones your children attend?

And if you, as a parent in a state, want to speak out against policies that hurt a majority of children in your state (or advocate for policies that will benefit a majority of children in your state), you are an outsider with permission to only speak about one school?

there could be someone who emerged as a champion of parents, i suppose -- this has happened in other realms (civil rights, labor, environmentalism) -- but i don't think that's happened in education yet.

also -- Forthcoming parent trigger movie starring Viola Davis has been renamed "Won't Back Down" http://ow.ly/8VgfF

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in This Week In Education are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.