To the Editor:
Three years ago, California enacted a groundbreaking new law called the “parent trigger” that gives parents the power to transform their failing neighborhood schools. From the start, opponents of the parent-trigger law have argued that the secret agenda behind it is a conspiracy to convert public education into a national for-profit charter school movement. And they see parents as well-meaning pawns in this effort.
All this changed on May 14, when the parents of Weigand Avenue Elementary School in Los Angeles won the first entirely in-district reform parent-trigger campaign. These parents have proved the critics and conspiracy theorists wrong. Their campaign for Weigand, which ranks as the 16th-worst elementary school in the Los Angeles Unified School District, calls for keeping the existing teachers and their union contract in place and bringing in new leadership.
The decision to bring in new leadership was not made rashly or in a vacuum. The effort to replace Weigand’s principal began two years ago, when parents and teachers joined together to sign a no-confidence petition calling for new leadership.
Parents recognize the rights of teachers and administrators to unionize and bargain collectively on behalf of their interests. Parents just want teachers and administrators to recognize that same right for them.
Parents trapped in failing schools across America want to work with good teachers, good principals, and progressive unions to transform their schools for their kids. But some entrenched interests refuse to engage in constructive dialogue and resort to name-calling and conspiracy theories, instead of focusing efforts on helping turn our failing schools around.
School leaders and education advocates on all sides owe it to our children to comport ourselves as mature adults and model behavior that we’d want to see on the schoolyard. It’s time to put aside our differences and work together in the interest of our children.
Los Angeles, Calif.
A version of this article appeared in the July 11, 2013 edition of Education Week as Parent Revolution: We Need to Work Together