Parent trigger laws: Shot in the arm for failing schools or shooting yourself in the foot? We may be about to find out.

One of the most controversial school reforms in recent years has been the parent trigger law, first enacted in California in 2010 and since adopted in some fashion in Connecticut, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. The country may see its first illustration of the law in action this year.

The trigger law allows parents to take over a failing school and reopen it as an independent charter if they collect signatures from the majority of families. It’s not an easy task because of the mammoth effort required to win over enough parents and the legal challenges from resistant districts.

But we may see the first trigger law takeover ever in Adelanto, Calif., where a judge this week lifted the remaining legal hurdle facing parents seeking to gain control of their failing elementary school 90 miles northeast of LA.

If the parents of Desert Trails Elementary School succeed, they will make history.

They began their effort 13 months ago, working with a California group called Parent Revolution. Their door-to-door effort led to signatures from 70 percent of the parents in the school, but the district challenged the validity of the petition in court.

The judge’s ruling this week ends that challenge. However, school begins Aug. 20, and it is doubtful parents can reconstitute the school before opening day. The Desert Trails parents are supposed to announce their plans tomorrow.

Twenty other states, including Georgia, have seen unsuccessful efforts thus far to pass parent trigger laws. We will be hearing a lot more about the parent trigger law when a new feature film, “Won’t Back Down,” opens this fall. (One of the movie’s backers was an investor in the documentary “Waiting for Superman.”)

According to the Washington Post:

At Desert Trails last year, two-thirds of the children failed the state reading exam, more than half were not proficient in math, and nearly 80 percent failed the science exam. The school has not met state standards for six years, and scores place it in the bottom 10 percent of schools statewide.

These parents did it,” said Ben Austin, director of Parent Revolution, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit that gave the parents strategic and legal help. “They are the first parents in America to win a parent trigger campaign, the first parents in America to take control of the educational destiny of their children. It’s a big deal.”

Austin said that the court ruling came too late for the parents to select a charter operator for the coming school year and that any change is likely to come in 2013. “It would be irresponsible to open up a school in just weeks,” he said.

The idea behind the 2010 law — placing ultimate power in parents’ hands — resonates with any parent who has felt frustrated by school bureaucracy.

But others see the law as dangerous, handing the complex challenge of education to people who may be unprepared to meet it. Critics also say the law circumvents elected school boards and invites abuse by charter operators bent on taking over public schools. A group of Desert Trails parents is opposed to the trigger, and they have received help from the California Teachers Association, the state’s largest teachers union.

After the judge’s decision, the Adelanto school board held a meeting yesterday to figure out its next step.

According to the San Bernardino Sun:

Members of the Adelanto Elementary School District board held a special meeting Wednesday afternoon to hear the official word on what a judge’s ruling will mean for the district’s lowest-performing elementary school. On Monday, San Bernardino Superior Court Judge Steve Malone ruled the district could not invalidate many of the signatures on a petition assembled by parents at Desert Trails Elementary School, where three-quarters of the students are unable to read and write.

The Desert Trails Parent Union was invoking the 2010 California “parent trigger” law that allows parents to enact sweeping changes at failing schools if they can collect signatures from 50 percent or more of the school’s parents. Malone’s decision means that 441 of the 466 submitted signatures still stood, putting the parents group in the end zone.

On Wednesday, the board met to discuss “the impact of the judge’s ruling and the next steps from here,” Superintendent Darin Brawley said Wednesday afternoon.

“The board has not made a decision on whether or not to appeal Judge Malone’s decision,” school board President Carlos Mendoza said in an email on Wednesday. “Nevertheless, we are disappointed by the decision. We are saddened that a law meant to empower parents has been used to empower some while disempowering others. The Desert Trails school community has come together to formulate an improvement plan for the school. We would like them to have the opportunity to implement it.”

At their meeting Wednesday, board members heard from both supporters of the parent trigger effort and opponents. Some of the opponents, Brawley said, indicated they’d transfer their students to another school if Desert Trails becomes a charter school, which is one of the options parents now have. What exactly is going to happen, however, is up to the parents, who have indicated they’ll announce their decision on the fate of the school on Friday.

Not all parent groups support the law. In its position paper against such laws, Parents Across America, a nonpartisan public school reform and advocacy group, states:

The law creates a process known as the Parent Trigger, which allows a majority of parents at a low-performing school to sign a petition to trigger one of a narrow set of options – firing all or
some of the staff, turning the school over to a charter operator, or closing the school. These
are the same options offered in the federal School Improvement Grant program, despite the
fact that none has been consistently successful in improving schools nationwide.

Although Parents Across America strongly supports true parent empowerment, we oppose
the Parent Trigger process. While the Parent Trigger allows parents to voice discontent with a
school, it gives them no opportunity to choose among more positive reforms, and fails to
promote the best practices for parent involvement from the ground up. In addition, the
process creates huge potential for abuse, disruption and divisiveness to school communities.

Parents Across America instead supports a process in which parents are authentically
involved at the ground level in developing strategies for improvement. These strategies might
include smaller classes, more parent involvement, or other reforms that have been proven to
work and are aligned with the individual needs of the school and its students.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

100 comments Add your comment

Pride and Joy

July 26th, 2012
12:04 pm

Three-fourths of the children cannot read or write. 75% of the American children cannot read or write in this elementary school. I’ve never heard of such an educational atrocity, even in Georgia.
And yet…
some still want the same old system in charge of wasting more innocent lives.
This school is a national disgrace.

living in an outdated ed system

July 26th, 2012
12:07 pm

……and Georgia is going to make history by passing the charter school constitutional amendment in November!!!

Mary Elizabeth

July 26th, 2012
12:18 pm

From the article, above:

“In addition, the process creates huge potential for abuse, disruption and divisiveness to school communities.

Parents Across America instead supports a process in which parents are authentically
involved at the ground level in developing strategies for improvement. These strategies might
include smaller classes, more parent involvement, or other reforms that have been proven to
work and are aligned with the individual needs of the school and its students.”
————————————————————————

I agree with this more positive approach of collaboration and good will for students’ improvement.

DebbieDoRight - The Only Thing Wrong With Capitalism is Capitalists..

July 26th, 2012
12:26 pm

If the parents really truly believe they “know what’s best for their kids regarding education”; then why don’t they just homeschool them?

Oh right, they really don’t want to be bothered with their little darlings all day…………

Mom of 3

July 26th, 2012
12:26 pm

Who waits for a teacher to teach their child how to read? Kids become proficient readers in the home.

That aside, no school should have such abysmal stats. What a shame.

Pride and Joy

July 26th, 2012
12:27 pm

Mary Elizabeth, I also agree with a more positive approach as you mentioned. The problem is, the school doesn’t believe in it. I’ve done a little research on this school. This school has been failing for six years. That means children wasted every year in that school from K to 5th grade and it didn’t improve.
Positive, collaborative approaches are always best but it is evident the bureaucracy in this school district did not want to collaborate with the parents. The parents cannot force a school district to change. The school district has to want to change.
In this case, at this school, where 75% of the children cannot read or write and has been the case for six years, a positive collaborative approach is a ship that sailed years ago.
When years of interventions and AA do not make the alcoholics stop drinking, it is time to rip the bottles of vodka out of their hands.

skipper

July 26th, 2012
12:31 pm

Maureen,
I am not sure what the answer is but as my boss used to say “What we doin’ ain’t workin’!” (He was well educated; this was his joke-line.)
Money has been thrown at schools; much (not all, but much) for some of the nuttiest things known to man. People know what some of this stuff is. In many cases (not all, but some) the parents lack of support, poor social skills, and intense poverty are all contributing factors. However, when the original documents ensured the right to a public education, they had no idea it would morph into the cluster it has become. To many “feel-good” rules of the day, bad teachers not being dismissed, a lack of discipline overall as well as such mounds of often blatantly unnecessary paperwork are all factors that have contributed to a mess that is going to be tough to deal with. This idea may or may not work, but at least these folks said “Fish or cut bait!”
If, in fact, a public education is to be guaranteed, then an entirely new (what it is I am not sure) route may need to be considered. The education system has become a beaurocratic nightmare that makes the EPA look good, and that is indeed a formidable task!

Nikole

July 26th, 2012
12:34 pm

Who will run the new school? If it is a for-profit charter company, I object.

Aquagirl

July 26th, 2012
12:51 pm

Bad schools can certainly contribute to creating dumb students. But the main reason is dumb parents sending dumb kids, who unsurprisingly end up as dumb students.

Giving these parents the keys to the school is like letting inmates run the asylum.

Pride and Joy

July 26th, 2012
12:52 pm

Debbie Do Right you asked “then why don’t they just homeschool them?”
Most people work for a living. One cannot home school and earn a living. Perhaps you are a stay at home mother with a husband who provides for all your family’s financial needs. If you are, you have my dream job. I wold love to stay home and home school my children but I have to work, just like most Americans.
In addition, these parents are paying for the school through their income and property taxes. They deserve to get services for which they have paid.
If you travled on a toll road every day on your way to work and you paid the toll but the road was impassible 75% of the time, you’d be furious and up in arms and demanding change. Schools are similar. We are parents who have paid dearly for these schools and we demand the schools give us the education our children deserve.
It’s just common sense.

catlady

July 26th, 2012
12:52 pm

“It would be irresponsible to open up a school in just weeks,” he said.
Aw, heck, it is so EASY to operate a school! Nothing to it! You can do it in your spare time, with your spare change. Just get your $5 per student for-profit to open it up.

Ms. Downey, what are the demographics of this school? Are 75% of the parents involved in the PTA? Free lunch? Migrant or ESOL? Parental educational attainment? Family makeup? School discipline?

catlady

July 26th, 2012
12:54 pm

And please don’t say the word “trigger.” Here in Georgia we will have all the gun crazies totin’ to school!

Pride and Joy

July 26th, 2012
12:56 pm

Aquagirl, you claim “Giving these parents the keys to the school is like letting inmates run the asylum.”
Surely you read the part about 75% of the kids cannot read or write. It’s been that way for six years.
The inmates were running the asylum for the past six years. Surely it is time for giving parents an opportunity to improve their childrens’ educations. Think about it. Look at four children. Three of them can’t read or write. Those are third-world country statistics. In America, it is unfathomable.

Voice of Reason

July 26th, 2012
1:15 pm

There is neither a right or wrong view to this situation in Calif. This is overall good for education. Parents should have a voice in reshaping the educational future for their children when conditions become deplorable and the local BOE does not institute reform. The intended purpose of the NCLB was to force school systems to address these low performing schools by reconstituting them with great principals and teachers. Their failure to do so in many cases has to led to parent initiatives. I do not see this parent initiative as a threat to public education.

Pride and Joy

July 26th, 2012
1:21 pm

Catlady, the demographics and statistics of this school may surprise you. What I expected was very poor and overwhelmingly Hispanic but it isn’t the case. Less than half (46%) are Hispanic and about 18% are black. The rest are white, Asian and mixed race. It is a Title 1 school yet only 20% are below the poverty line.
Compared to this terrible performance, even APS look good.

Pride and Joy

July 26th, 2012
1:25 pm

Skipper, I appreciate what your boss said ““What we doin’ ain’t workin’!” (He was well educated; this was his joke-line.)
We also have a motto at work:
Make it work.
Make it better.
Make it best.
In other words, make it work is our top priority. There are no excuses. It is simple. We make it work — or else.
That’s how we employees of the private sector function.

Google "NEA" and "donations"

July 26th, 2012
1:25 pm

As we’re all agreed that parent involvement is key to the success of local schools, we should be 100% in favor of this.

But that assumes educating kids is your #1 goal.

The forces lining up to oppose parent takeovers of failing schools have a different agenda—that of maximizing teacher union revenues and using them to fund anti-reform Democrats and thus protect union revenues into the future. While of course claiming the opposite.

Their local minions will spend the day posting to this blog.

CCMST

July 26th, 2012
1:37 pm

Here is a link to the Desert Trails greatschools.net page: http://www.greatschools.org/california/adelanto/4949-Desert-Trails-Elementary-School/

Happy reading.

Pride and Joy

July 26th, 2012
1:40 pm

Catlady, here is your source:
http://www.movoto.com/public-schools/ca/adelanto/primary/060171003819-desert-trails-elementary-school/14350-bellflower-st.htm
It also lists the education background on a chart on the bottom. 62 hispanic, 26 black, the rest white, asian, indian and mixed race.
The educational backgroun is half have high school diplomas, a fourth have BA degrees .

Fate

July 26th, 2012
1:41 pm

There is simply no hope for a group of people that allow thier children to be illiterate for up to six years. Nothing can be done to ever improve their lot in life, they are simply too inept.

CarolineSF

July 26th, 2012
1:44 pm

It’s clear that Desert Trails Elementary is a struggling school, but it’s an exaggeration to flatly say that “75% of the children cannot read or write,” and a slam against the children of Desert Trails Elementary. Calling them failures in an untruthful and exaggerated manner disparages the students, is harsh and has racist overtones, so I urge the promoters of the parent trigger to please stop that.

Thanks for quoting the Parents Across America view, Maureen.

A few points about the Adelanto situation: The parents on both sides of the parent trigger debate have said they don’t want their school to become a charter. But as soon as the judge issued the ruling, Parent Revolution (a billionaire-funded organization founded by charter operator Steve Barr) announced that it would be seeking bids from charter operators.

So obviously that’s DISempowering to the parents. And so is the judge’s ruling banning them from rescinding their signatures from petitions. That’s a “gotcha!” for Parent Revolution against the parents.

One possible complication is that charter operators actually don’t want to take over struggling existing schools, as Parent Revolution has acknowledged. They prefer to start their own schools where they can pick their own students and create their own policies from scratch. And the parent community at Desert Trails has been ripped apart by the ugly parent trigger controversy, so that would be an even tougher situation for a charter operator stepping in. So it remains to be seen if any will be interested — and how the parents, who agree that they don’t want a charter, will take being supposedly “empowered” by having an unwanted charter shoved into their school, if any are willing to take it over.

By the way, many nonprofit charter schools still pay their administrators princely salaries, and many have provided easy ways for unscrupulous operators to loot our kids’ public education money, as charters get little to no oversight. So being a nonprofit is no guarantee of trustworthiness.

– Caroline Grannan, Parents Across America

Pride and Joy

July 26th, 2012
1:45 pm

Very Interestiing:
What is also very interesting to note is that this school spends $7009 per pupil, yet we say how grossly underfunded GA’s schools are….APS spends $14,000 per pupil to get lousy results. Desert Trails in California gets lousy results for half that price.

Mary Elizabeth

July 26th, 2012
1:47 pm

Pride and Joy, 12:27 pm

“In this case, at this school, where 75% of the children cannot read or write and has been the case for six years, a positive collaborative approach is a ship that sailed years ago.”
===================================================

I have not studied this school, but from the article above, I did not read that “75% of the children cannot read or write.” As a teacher who had analyzed standardized test data for decades for schools as well as for individual students, I read that 66% of the students could not read ON THEIR GRADE LEVELS. This does not mean that the students “could not read,” at all. In all due respect, your words reflect how some parents might interpret the data. That is why parents need to work with teachers, and not think of teachers as opponents to them. Parents should respect the knowledge that teachers have in child development and curricula. Moreover, I agree with you that schools and school districts should be receptive to parents for the benefit of the children. Let’s look more closely at possibilities for poor scores. I am not defending poor scores. I simply want to share my knowledge of student academic growth with you. Please know that I have not studied this particular school and you mention that you have.

Language development actually starts at birth, if not prebirth. The child hears the sounds around him and learns the cadences and intonations within speech. Later, he picks up meaning and word knowledge. The complexity of the spoken word that he hears around him will effect his reading development, later. In some homes, there is little dialogue which hinders language development. Some children have little interaction with others of their age group, or with older groups. That, too, hinders language development. Some children are exposed to picture books earlier than others. Some are not exposed to these books at all. Some children want to “graduate” from these picture books to books with minimal printed words under the pictures. Some children start to pick up word meaning simply by exposure to the books with words, and through having had their parents, or siblings, read the books to them. Some parents have read stories and nursery rhymes to their children from the time they were only months old; other children have had no language development exposure of this nature at all. Therefore, by the time a child enters kindergarten, five years of very varied language development has already occurred among children.

Let’s take “Johnny” who had all the positive experiences related to language development that I just shared, and let’s take “Sam” who has had none of those experiences. That means that when they both enter first grade, Johnny might be reading on 3rd, or even 4th grade level. Sam, on the other hand, might be not even be able to recognize all of the letters of the alphabet, separate them into vowels and consonants, and sound them out. To Sam a “p,” or a “b,” or a “d” may be the same letter, just turned in different directions, like a chair can be turned in different directions. Obviously, when they both take the standardized reading test in 2nd grade, Johnny will “pass” the test for 2nd grade students, and Sam probably will “fail” that test. Sam, you see, learned much in his first grade year based on where he had begun in first grade – about where a 3 year old might have been in language development – but still he was not reading on 2nd grade level when he started 2nd grade. Now, advance Johnny and Sam to 5th grade. Johnny is now reading on 8.7 grade level in 5th grade, and Sam is now reading on 3.5 grade level in 5th grade which is very good progress for Sam since his first grade year, but he still not on his grade level. Therefore, Sam will “fail” the standardized test for 5th grade students, just as he “failed” the standardized tests for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th grade. This does not mean, however, that Sam is not growing in his reading skills or that he “cannot read” at all.

I think you see what can happen. Now, multiply Sam’s situation to 66% of the students in that school and 66% might fail the standardized test in reading for their grade levels. Also, perhaps you can see how that might happen for 5 years in a row. The same would hold true for mathematics, as for reading development. Moreover, since 80% of the students in that school “failed” the science tests for their grade levels, I can almost guarantee you, from my experience, that the reason most of the students in that school failed the science standardized tests for their grade levels was because the students were not reading on grade level.

So who is to blame, if we are going to deal in “blaming” which I prefer not to do? Are the parents to blame because they did not foster the reading development of their children for five or six years before they ever entered elementary school, or are the teachers to blame when the students have grown from the point they were when they entered school, but have not, yet, reached grade level mastery of skills?

Maybe some of this information will help you see how complex education is and why parents and teachers need to work together for the academic progress of the children.

If you want to read about academic development in even greater detail, please see this link from my blog and read about another “Johnny” and his academic development – about midway through the post:

http://maryelizabethsings.wordpress.com/2012/02/25/about-education-essay-5-assessing-teachers-and-students/

Dunwoody Mom

July 26th, 2012
1:47 pm

Here is a link to the 2010-2011 Accountability Report for the school. My question is how did the district and the state let things get so bad? Were there any measures taken at all by anyone?

http://www.axiomadvisors.net/livesarc/SARCIndexPDFs/36675876111918_10-11_1.pdf

CCMST

July 26th, 2012
1:47 pm

According to Great Schools, it is 100% FRL, 28% ELL – 64% Latino, 21% African-American, 6% White, 2% Asian.

87% of the teachers have full credentials and 3% have emergency certification. Not sure about the other 10%. The average number of years teaching is 10 – which could mean a lot of newbies surrounded by old veterans, no way to know. No info on advanced degrees.

Per student spending average is $7,099 – 62% towards instructional funding, 14% admin, 7% support, 17% other.

Some parent review, copied and pasted from the site:

“My kids have been at Desert Trails since 2008. Up until this year my kids were never bullied. I love the new Principal Mr. Mobley. I hope he is able to turn this school around. I love all the teachers that my kids have had. I do agree that we need to get MORE parents involved that we need at this school.”

“my child went to this school for 2 years. there teachers were ok but there staff was bad. the princable does nothing when you have a problem all they say is ok dont worry ill do something about it and they never do. this school is not the type of school you would want to send your child to and there is alot fighting, gossiping, and many more so please do not send you child to this school because your child will not have a good elementry year here. ”

“My sister has been going to DT for her second year. She is in fifth grade and she loves her teacher but there is ALOT of bullying. Personally you run into bad teachers like you run into bad cops. Not all of them are good, but not all of them are bad either. I personally think that the problem lays more with the students AND PARENTS. Teach your kids some respect and maybe kids won’t be disrupted and actually will get the opportunity to learn something. I get tired of seeing the parent protesters talking about how it’s the teachers fault. NO it’s the parents fault. When did it become that the teacher had to be the parent. I see a lot of rudeness with parents at the school. It’s not the teachers or the staffs fault for YOUR KIDS fighting. It’s only they’re job to control the situation as much as possible. I also get tired of having to wait at the intersection for a long time, it’s not the wait that bothers me, it’s the un supervised kids walking extra slow through the cross walk and dancing in the street. ”

“it is not a school you would want to send your child , the principal does nothing to protect students from bulling, as well as special day class does not benifit students”

“I attended Desert Trails from K-6. There were a lot of gossiping and students fighting and calling me names. I had fun and learned a lot in Mr. Franco’s class. He gave us gift cards and granola bars.”

Pride and Joy

July 26th, 2012
1:48 pm

Caroline is exactly right. She says “So being a nonprofit is no guarantee of trustworthiness.”
Traditional government public schools are also non-profits and there is no guarantee of trustworthiness in them either. Dishonesty and greed are an equal opportunity employer.

Pride and Joy

July 26th, 2012
1:51 pm

Dunwoody mom asks the most important question of all “My question is how did the district and the state let things get so bad?”
How could any employee stand by and not sound the alarm?
How could anyone not believe this school was and is in a crisis?

AlreadySheared

July 26th, 2012
1:53 pm

Seriously? Do you think parents are sitting around waiting for something to do and then spontaneously say “Hey, let’s start a petition drive to pull the trigger on our kids’ school and take it over”?

An action like this is a cry of desparation. Any educator with half a clue should be able to realize that he or she works for the parents in their school district. The parents elect the school board and vote on bond issuances. They are also the only legal representatives of the object of public education – the children.

This is also why high SES neighborhoods have good schools (or else) and low SES neighborhoods have bad schools – the SES in question is the parents’ SES.

Pride and Joy

July 26th, 2012
2:00 pm

Specifically, ME, 72% failed the reading exam.
P and J

Ron F.

July 26th, 2012
2:03 pm

The problem goes way beyond just who is running the school, but the evidence is clear that the current system isn’t working. What troubles me most is that when district “leaders” knew for SIX years that the kids in this school were functioning below grade level, they seem to have done little to change things. Bringing in a charter group isn’t necessary if parents get involved and demand change. If you have teachers and a principal dedicated to that change who is willing to work with the parents, then things will change. But it has to go beyond the school walls into homes by educating parents and helping them access resources that will help them learn and be able to help their children learn. Unless you can change the attitudes towards education in the community, and the involvement of the parents in the education of their children, then any change will only be at best moderately successful. They can fix this school by giving the school the tools to do what it needs to do and not mandating from the district level what will be done.

dc

July 26th, 2012
2:04 pm

customers who have an actual choice, scare the dickens out of monopolies. the powers that be will do anything to stop them…..starting with disparaging the culprits. we’ll see a huge amount of press out of the various legacy educrat organizations on how awful this situation ends up….regardless of how well it actually goes in real life.

Pride and Joy

July 26th, 2012
2:08 pm

An Honest Question:
What I am hearing from a lot of teachers on this blog are excuses/rationales for the failure of children to learn at Desert Trails elementary school in California and calls for allowing the school to continue as it is, run by the same group, the local BOE.
What I want to know is, how bad does it have to get before teachers on this blog acknowledge that the school is a failure and needs drastic measures from beyond its own walls.
Is it possible that no matter how horrific the scores are, no mattter how awful the school is, that teachers on this blog will always, without question, advocate for themselves over everything else?
What is the bench mark?
How bad a failure does the school have to get before a teacher on this blog will say “Yes, the state/parents/other entity need to step in a make changes.
Or…will most teachers on this blog just continue to dig in their heels and refuse changes?

mystery poster

July 26th, 2012
2:25 pm

The paradox is..
if the parents were that involved to begin with, the school wouldn’t have been failing.

Solutions

July 26th, 2012
2:30 pm

Too bad we do not have a tax payer trigger law, one that allows a tax payer to get all his property tax money back if the local schools are sub standard. If more than half the school fails the state tests, the taxpayers should get all their money back, the all the schools closed, permanently. Home school the kids, send them to private schools, but no more free riding on my wallet!

Solutions

July 26th, 2012
2:33 pm

What I see is two parties, the public school crowd, and the private school crowd, fighting over someone else’s money, the property owning tax payer. I can solve the fight right now, end all property taxes used to support education. Parents choose to have children, let the parents pay for educating them. The same with health care, end Medicaid, let people pay for their own health care.

Tony

July 26th, 2012
2:37 pm

The parents of Florida saw through the parent trigger attempt in their state and responded with a resounding NO. In their case, it was a thinly veiled attempt to open the door for profiteering charter management organizations to take over more schools. One of the things that Florida is learning about these companies is that they are able to hike up their fees with little or no documentation. The local board of education gets stuck with the bill, and the money is taken away from the local schools’ budget in order to pay the profit making charter company. I hope we do not go down this path, but with people like Chip Rogers and company it is likely that we will see an attempt.

Pride and Joy

July 26th, 2012
3:08 pm

Mystery poster your comment is so pitiful. You wrote “The paradox is..
if the parents were that involved to begin with, the school wouldn’t have been failing.”
In your own words, the children failed to learn and it is all the parents’ fault.
If that is the case, the teacheres and administration need to refund their salary and benefits.
Teachers and administrators get paid to teach. If they can’t teach and it is all the responsibility of the parents, then give back all the money you didn’t earn, including the cost of benefits.
On this earth, you don’t get paid for nothing.

Ron F.

July 26th, 2012
3:10 pm

Pride and Joy: from what I’m reading so far, the teachers and pro-public education supporters here are questioning how things got this bad and were allowed to remain that way. We too are calling for change, but honestly it isn’t going to be any better if they bring in an outside group to run the school. They have the necessary pieces there in a group of concerned parents and a principal who is liked by many of them. The change needs to come from the community and school and not from the board office. If every school had a determined group of parents like this, positive change can happen, but we have to break the top-down cycle of decision making that’s ruining so many school districts. That is what I read teachers here calling for, not more of the status quo, IMO.

atlmom

July 26th, 2012
3:14 pm

Well said Mystery Poster. Because, seriously, I have SEEN parents take a failing school to a non failing one. It is HARD work. But who’s to say a charter will go better? Really?
Because – in charters, there is a relationship between the parents and the school – where the parents agree to do certain stuff (like volunteering, etc)…so if you’re *forced* into a charter school – how does that work exactly? The parents could have done a zillion things – yet they didn’t and now there’s this.
I don’t see it getting any better.

As for the ‘oh, no, we couldn’t possibly homeschool! we work!’ that’s a crock. families figure it out all the time – where the parents work *and* they homeschool the kids. or they move to a less expensive neighborhood or smaller house, or whatever. it can work – it’s not impossible. if you (as in ‘collective’ you) don’t want to do it, that’s fine, but don’t complain that ‘it’s too hard.’

I am not sure I see a lot of super exceptional schools to merit the idea that public schools are really really working anywhere. it’s so very sad.

AngryRedMarsWoman

July 26th, 2012
3:43 pm

“We are parents who have paid dearly for these schools ”

No offense, but “paid dearly”? My property taxes for a nice house in an area with a Top-10 high school are about $2,800 per year. A lot of people in the school district pay less and some pay more. If you assume a two-child household, that is a pretty good deal — even with only one child the “price” is low. A new car is probably $300-$400 per month – more than what people are paying for their children to go to public school even when you factor in what is coming from the feds and state from your income taxes. I pay $17,500 per year to send my son to a private high school – and that is just tuition..add uniforms, books, tech and lab fees, class trips, “donations”, etc. and it is easily over $20k. Nobody likes paying taxes, but when it comes to a public school education I think folks are getting a heck of a bargain – especially if they make the most of it. I am sorry, but if an elementary school child cannot read, do basic math and get through science class I am looking straight at the parents. Start early. Read to your children. Read in front of your children. Sit down with them every night to do homework. Pay attention – Fs, like As, are earned (not given) over the course of the marking period. Take every opportunity to ramble on about the importance of an education. Kick them in the butt. I dog my son about his schooling…it is my job as a parent to ensure that he has an education that will allow him to make choices in life and not be “stuck” doing this or that.

Solutions

July 26th, 2012
3:52 pm

I learned to read in Catholic school, my parents did not teach me to read. I am outraged when I see comments from educators demanding parents teach their children the alphabet, the numbers, addition, subtraction, and reading prior to 1st grade, and beyond. That is what we are paying (through the force of state taxation) the schools and teachers to do! Stop trying to dump your work on the parents!

Pride and Joy

July 26th, 2012
3:54 pm

Solutions, I have a similar story. I learned my letters and the sounds they made in kindergarten. I learned phonics and how to read in the first grade by my teachers. My parents were uninvolved in my education. My husband says the same.

Pride and Joy

July 26th, 2012
3:56 pm

You said “No offense, but “paid dearly”? My property taxes for a nice house in an area with a Top-10 high school are about $2,800 per year. ”
$2,800 won’t even begin to pay the taxes I do and I don’t live in a nice house. Move to the city of Atlanta in Dekalb county and you will pay $5,000 a year for a tiny bungalow with no yard and no parking.

Google "NEA" and "donations"

July 26th, 2012
3:57 pm

The casual reader stumbling across this blog today (or most days) might ask himself “Why not let those schools with a history of failure try something new — even RADICALLY new?

After all, there’s scant value in preserving a failed status quo. And innovation might result in solutions other troubled schools can use.

If helping kids is the goal.

Pride and Joy

July 26th, 2012
3:58 pm

Atlanta mom rudely says “As for the ‘oh, no, we couldn’t possibly homeschool! we work!’ that’s a crock.”
A crock, atlanta mom?
Please tell me how you manage to work 50 hours a week plus a commute and homeschool your children.
Do tell.
I am waiting with baited breath.

Pride and Joy

July 26th, 2012
4:12 pm

Ron, you sound like a reasonable guy but you are wrong. In my own experience, my parents were not involved in my education. Everything I learned, I learned in school just as my husband did. My mother says the same. Her parents were also uninvolved and she learned at school. I could quote a hundred others but I am sure you get the point. Having involved parents may be helpful but it isn’t a requirement.
Schools are paid to teach. If they can’t teach, they need to let someone else teach but they can’t keep taking money and not do what they are paid to do.
The tide has turned, Ron F. No longer are American parents willing to allow the schools to fail their children.
When school districts embrace that fact, everyone will be better for it.

AngryRedMarsWoman

July 26th, 2012
4:17 pm

“Move to the city of Atlanta in Dekalb county and you will pay $5,000 a year for a tiny bungalow with no yard and no parking.”

Which is among the reasons I will not move to either place. But….that $5k is not just for schools and even if all of it went to the local school I would still be of the opinion that public school is a bargain with one child not to mention 2 or 3 or more. Just my opinion…as you have yours.

MortalWombat

July 26th, 2012
4:19 pm

Actually, it’s ‘bated breath.’ Like abated, but bated.

AlreadySheared

July 26th, 2012
4:26 pm

Might be “baited” – could be trying to catch someting

AlreadySheared

July 26th, 2012
4:27 pm