California parents set to take over failing school thanks to Trigger Laws

Parents in the impoverished desert community of Adelanto, California, will become the first in the nation to seize control of a failing public school under a controversial “parent trigger” law, the parents announced Monday.

The Adelanto School District had fought to preserve control over Desert Trails Elementary School. But on Friday, Superior Court Judge Steve Malone ruled that the parents had met all the requirements under the trigger law by gathering signatures from the legal guardians of at least half the students at Desert Trails.

Judge Malone ordered the district to validate the petitions and clear the way for parents to take over the school.

“This is a huge milestone in our struggle for our children to receive the basic education they are entitled to and deserve,” said Doreen Diaz, a mother who led the petition drive.

Desert Trails, which serves a student population that is mostly low-income and minority, has posted abysmal test scores for years. When they graduate from the school at about age 12, barely one in four students can pass basic proficiency tests in reading, writing and math.

Ben Austin, who helped organize the trigger campaign through a nonprofit group called Parent Revolution, said parents would immediately begin soliciting proposals from private management companies interested in running Desert Trails as a charter school.

via California parents set to take over failing school | Reuters.

The school would continue to be publicly funded and open to all students, but as a charter, it would be free to write its own curriculum and disciplinary rules and hire and fire staff without the constraints of union contracts.

Carlos Mendoza, president of the district’s Board of Trustees, said he plans to urge his colleagues to appeal the court ruling.

Mendoza pointed out that nearly 100 parents who had signed the original trigger petition later signed a second petition asking that their names be removed. Many said they had not fully understood the campaign and didn’t want to convert Desert Trails into a charter. The judge, however, ruled that they could not rescind their names.

Trigger advocates say they’re only interested in improving educational opportunities for their children.

California was the first state to pass a parent trigger law. It lets parents in schools with the lowest student test scores band together to force change: They can fire teachers, oust administrators or turn the school over to private management.

Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana have since passed trigger laws and they are being debated in several other states, including New York, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Teachers’ unions generally oppose trigger laws, saying there is no proof that mass firings or new management boost student achievement. But the concept of empowering parents to run their schools has gained considerable traction. Last month, the U.S. Conference of Mayors endorsed trigger laws.

Adelanto is the first community to successfully complete the trigger petition process. Parent Revolution also sponsored another trigger drive in Compton, Calif., but that remains tangled in court.

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2 thoughts on “California parents set to take over failing school thanks to Trigger Laws

  1. Careful parents. First they let you take over. Then they let you “turn the school over to private management.” Then either you, the parents, lose interest, or the private management companies (large corporations) have new laws passed. The goal is to “mold young minds” – for profit… Neither the politicians, nor the corporations are interested in good education (look around). They passed the laws to give you the schools to either divide & conquer or unload the costs – with the ultimate goal being ‘privatize’. Don’t believe me? Check out ALEC. Or read John Gatto’s “Dumbing us Down” (eye-opening). Gatto was an award-winning teacher before he caught on.

  2. I’d like to see the government out of education all together. Charter schools have advantages over traditional public schools, see Louisiana Schools post Katrina (Amazing turn around thanks to private enterprise). There is nothing inherently wrong with educating for profit so long as there is consumer choice. Public school is a monopoly, state run bureaucratic nightmare. The saddest thing about it is the kids are falling behind the rest of the world despite the huge sums of other peoples money those schools get to spend.

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