Educators vow to fight deceptive parent trigger laws


By Brian Washington

Thousands of educators from across the nation have agreed to stand with parents against corporate profiteers who push so-called education reforms, like the parent trigger, that amount to nothing more than veiled attempts to privatize neighborhood public schools.

Take Action ›

Help spread the truth about parent trigger laws by sharing this video. CLICK HERE. ›

During the National Education Association’s 2013 Representative Assembly in Atlanta last week, more than 6,000 teachers, education support professionals, higher education faculty, and student teachers all voted to oppose parent trigger laws and, instead, support school reform models that are inclusive of all public education stakeholders–students, parents, educators, and elected officials.

NEA President Dennis Van Roekel at the 2013 Representative Assembly
NEA President Dennis Van Roekel at the 2013 Representative Assembly

Parent trigger laws play on the desires of concerned parents to improve a struggling school. But once enough parents sign onto a petition demanding reform, they are cut out of the process. The end result usually involves principals and other school personnel being fired and public schools being turned over to private or corporate operators.

During his keynote address, NEA President Dennis Van Roekel, a math teacher from Arizona who represents more than 3 million educators nationwide, urged those in attendance to replace the ideas of corporate “education reformers” with solutions from teachers and education support professionals who are committed to helping students succeed.

This is about educators as leaders, not just doers. It’s about making policy decisions, not merely carrying out someone else’s ideas. It’s about leveraging our work so that it becomes greater than the sum of all our own individual efforts.

In a national interview, Julie Woestehoff, co-founder of Parents Across America, a grass-roots organization working to improve public education by making sure parents have a seat at the table, said parent trigger laws are just a “stalking horse for privatization.”

“We believe in parent empowerment (and) parents having a voice, but we believe the parent trigger doesn’t do any of that,” said Woestehoff.

Parent trigger legislation is pushed by groups like the Los Angeles-based Parent Revolution, which is bankrolled by the conservative Walton Foundation with its anti-public education agenda.

When Parent Revolution hired staff to go into Adelanto, California to pull the trigger on a local school, many discovered quickly what this group had in mind was not good for the community.

Parents said they were misled by organizers and harassed to sign the petition. They also said they were not aware the group wanted to shut down the neighborhood public school and turn it over to private operators to re-open as a charter school (see video below).


According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, parent trigger laws have been proposed in at least 25 states. However, recently, in states like Florida, Georgia and Oklahoma, a coalition of parents, educators and elected leaders have managed to see through these schemes to privatize our public schools and block the bills from becoming law.

Help spread the truth about parent trigger laws. Share the video by the Education Opportunity Network about the Adelanto, California community that lost its neighborhood school after Parent Revolution came to town.

It’s time to get real about education reform and hold our elected officials accountable for providing students and teachers with the tools and resources they need to succeed. Click here for more information about how you can join the fight to make sure all students have access to great public schools.

Reader Comments

  1. NEVER SHOP AT WALMART! The Walton family and their corporation is the most virulently anti labor organization imaginable. They daily violate fair labor laws, force their way into communities that do not want them, happily destroy local small businesses, cost local governments millions and are an ecological disaster. Their anti labor actions go beyond any business interest or profit motive – it is their mission in life, even beyond that of accumulating hundreds of billions of dollars. They are working, behind the scenes 24-7 to privatize public education and we had better be wise to them.

  2. Furthermore, has anyone asked why they corporation executives want these changes, including the national core curriculum? They don’t identify with public school children. They may not send their own children to public school. Why do they want to cut literature down to thirty percent of English class content in high school? Perhaps they do not want children to grow into thinking adults. Perhaps they want them in a slavish state because they cannot think and reason. I don’t like it. Question the core curriculum which should be the state’s job according to the Constitution, not that of the national government. Where do these CEO’s send their students? Why?

  3. Of course, these corporate people are not interested in the future here in CA or WI or any of the states where this is happening. I am a public school teacher in a large urban area. Because I know how good public schools are, I sent my children. They learned much as do my students; the problem is underfunding and not spending the funding on smaller class sizes and more school days and fewer days for so called teacher learning PD days. CA just restored some money to the schools, but my district chose to add two PD days for teachers rather than cut class sizes or give students more time in the classroom.

  4. Parents don’t understand the ramifications of school privatization. Someone becomes the CEO and takes precious funds away from children and the school.(I learned of one school CEO who was making over $500,000 a year-taking the money from the schools, the teachers, the staff, etc.) One technique is to replace teachers with technology. It is cheaper to put students in front of a screen than to have experienced, educated and committed adults working with children. Another problem is no union for the teachers and staff – this means there is no job security (teachers can be fired at any time on a whim-and they are throughout the school year-there is much higher teacher/staff turnover in charter schools making schools out of touch with the community and having little to no institutional memory-even administrative turnover is frequent), poor pay, poor benefits, bad working conditions, no concern about students-the focus is on the bottom line-how much profit can they make from the public school funds and how much can they exploit the workers. Teachers burn out and quit from unrealistic expectations, children turn off to learning because adults are not sensitive to or part of the community they teach, etc.
    Parents need to be educated about the real motivations of the charter movement. How much time did this school staff have to waste on fighting off this privatization movement? This took precious time and energy away from student learning.

  5. Parents as always should have some say in their child’s education. However, the biggest problem to date is teachers have no input into what they are going to teach and if their population is even ready for that curriculum. I believe grade levels should be flexible and allow upper and lower grades into their classrooms. For instance, a student who is in 4th grade and is high in one of his/her subjects can go into that class or a student who is low in a subject can go the the lower level class. It would be tough as we already have overcrowded classrooms, but, I bet students would achieve when put in the appropriate grade level for content.

    That’s my opinion for what it is worth. Greg

  6. lol – a parent trigger law that would stand up to today’s demanding parents? Shows how out of touch they are! Get ready for a lot more back-pedaling.

  7. The fact that the judge in this case ruled that petitions signed in haste on street corners in town should win the day and cause this huge community loss would lead one to question whose pocket that judge is in. If charter reformers can’t accomplish their goals in an above-board manner, this sneakiness is what they resort to.
    On the other hand, we all learned something: run away, as fast as you can, from Parent Revolution.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *