Another parent revolt

The state law is the recourse for parents frustrated with learning

Once again, parents whose children attend a school with a long history of poor performance have united under the motto of Parent Revolution to call for a new administration.

This time the school that is seeing the parents’ effort to gather signatures and implement the “parent trigger law” is the 24th Street Elementary School—a K-5 school in urban Los Angeles. Legislation passed in 2010 allows parents at schools with three or more years of poor performance to gather signatures. If they can collect signatures from half of the parents, they can change the current administration and turn the school into a charter.

This is a drastic, traumatic change. Twice before, in the Compton and Adelanto School Districts, the actions of parents met with strong resistance from school authorities and the teachers’ union. In Compton, parents were defeated during a controversial campaign, while in Adelanto they claimed their first victory since the passage of the law.

It is true that the Parent Revolution movement is supported by charter schools and that they are the ones that benefit financially from a change in administration. However, holding them responsible for the parents being dissatisfied is a mistake.

It does not take much for parents to become concerned when they find out that their children did not acquire the knowledge needed when they enter a higher grade in another school. That lack of learning is a betrayal of the trust of parents who send their children to a school.

What would be ideal, as we have repeatedly said, is for everyone interested in student learning—parents, teachers and administrators—to work together toward a common goal. It is also necessary to recognize the lack of resources in schools like this one, where a great majority of the students are Latinos.

Nevertheless, it is obvious that parents, teachers and administrators at 24th Street Elementary do not share the same concerns about the low achievement in academic tests, like for example students who lack essential knowledge—such as reading—when graduating to a higher grade in another school.

This frustration is what had led parents, who have no other recourse available, to decide to use the state law to change the school. When a moment like this comes, it does not mean enemies of the public school have succeeded. It happens because teachers were unwilling or unable to straighten the course in order for the students to graduate with the lessons learned.