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UPDATE: AFT President Explains Trigger Document Takedown

Megaphone#parenttrigger AFT president Randi Weingarten emailed me to say that she'd never seen or approved the PowerPoint below until yesterday. "The powerpoint didn't represent AFT or my views, nor does it represent the Conn Fed's views," she wrote. It was apparently one of many presentations posted online after the July TEACH conference in DC (which I attended).  In this case, the panel was called "Damaging Legislative Proposals and What You Can Do to Fight Them!" There's now a note on the AFT site explaining "We have received complaints about these materials and have removed them because they do not represent AFT's position." Somewhat like Jonah Edelman in his apology for the infamous Aspen Ideas Festival video, Weingarten is clear about the wrong tone and choice of words having been used but isn't distancing herself from the legislative work that was done to modify the trigger proposal.  "We are proud of the work in Conn, but disagree with the wording and what the wording in the power point represented."  (And of course, it wasn't Weingarten who gave the ill-considered presentation in the first place.)  One last point to keep in mind during the next 24 hours of bloviation and grandstanding:  many of the reformy organizations that often do battle with the AFT are ambivalent if not opposed to the parent trigger themselves, and some of the pro-educator organizations like Parents Across America have members -- Caroline Grannan for one -- who are vehemently opposed to the trigger idea as well.  

From the AFT: "We received complaints about the PowerPoint, and, after reviewing it, took it down because it didn't reflect our work.  The truth is that we created an avenue for parents in Connecticut to become involved in their children’s school.  As a result, parent councils are being formed all over the state, which will lead to better schools.  We are proud that we were involved in passing this law and believe it will serve as a model for other states."


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Parents Across America's position paper on the Parent Trigger is here:

"Parent trigger" laws aren't intended to empower parents. They were created by charter operators to empower charter operators.

"Parents Across America" is noticeably hostile to anything that gives power to actual parents.

my name is Gwen, a proud parent of children in CT Public schools. I also introduced the Parent Trigger to CT. The State that I live in!

I am proud of the traditional schools my children attend but let me reassure you we have some outstanding Charter, Magnet, Vocational, Pre K – 12 schools YET with all of the school successes, Connecticut, one of the richest states in the nation and home to some of the most prestigious Universities and schools in the nation, has an academic achievement gap among the highest in the nation, observable between rich and poor students, and between white students and students of color.

The socio-economically disadvantaged in Connecticut’s cities tend to be people of color, trapped in schools that persistently fail to meet their need for a quality education; these residents are also likely to be underemployed, or lacking in job skills that would provide a livable wage, consequently they tend be under-insured, or uninsured.

This CT knowledge, skill and opportunity gap (known as the achievement gap) is unacceptable to me, as parent.

As a result, I work tirelessly to partner with teachers, public policy makers and administrators to help turn around low performing schools only to be generalized like some less-knowing person that is incapable of making an informed decision and not “bright enough” to support effective education reform efforts. Then to add insult to injury the existing educational structure also known as the “status quo” is unwilling to hold stakeholder accountable to high expectations, results and responsible fiscal spending.

This “experts only” type of structure was disheartening for parents and caused many to feel hopeless.

Then California parents, students, education advocates and public policy makers took a risk to introduce a “Parent trigger law” that would give me/parents a mechanism to recommend a school improvement model to help children when the educational system systemically fails to meet their educational needs. So what does the “low performing educational structure do when parents fight for this new law? It goes into attack mode of parents!

So I am writing to discourage the stereotyping and generalizations of parents especially poor and/or minority.

Being poor and/or Black, Hispanic or any other ethnicity does not equal illiteracy.

Public policy makers and educators can’t continue to deny parents access to the relevant information they need to help their child succeed in school and then in the same breath state “parents don’t care, they are not engaged… You can’t have it both ways!

So how about heeding some good research that clearly states that a parents’ active engagement within their child’s learning is the most important long-term influence on academic success and behavior.

Parental engagement goes well beyond being engaged in activities in and around school – it is about parents and effective teachers working together to support the child’s learning in the classroom and at home.

In closing, as long as MY child is in a teacher’s classroom then by default I am YOUR parent partner and to be quite frank it’s NOT negotiable!

Parents need teachers to be successful in the classroom therefore parents support effective teacher and Administrator Prep Programs because if the teacher is successful the chances of my children being successful in the classroom increases.

Various forms of the parent trigger law are here and increasing in momentum. Parents are NOT the enemy of Teachers!

The equation for success:
Empowered Students +Engaged Parents + Effective Teacher & Administrators = Productive Citizens and a qualified workforce.

Now this looks like an equation for a stable economy not “Kill modes” like AFT CT suggest in their "how to" disenfranchise parents Power Point and blame games.

I look forward to working with a vast majority of you on this journey to improve America’s schools...excuse typos;)

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