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.
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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.
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.