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Desert Trails Gets Charter

“LaVerne Prep wins by landslide”
by Lynnea Lombardo
Victorville Daily Press
October 19, 2012

LaVerne Preparatory Academy will be the charter school transforming Desert Trails Elementary, winning the parent vote by a landslide late Thursday night, drawing cheers and hugs from the small crowd of parents and children gathered just outside the school.

The small group of Parent Revolution workers, Desert Trails Parent Union parents and children was disbanded quickly, however, as rumors of a bomb threat circled within the crowd, sending everyone back to the Desert Trails Parent Union headquarters a few blocks away.

The threat came as no surprise to Joe Morales, a DTPU member and founder of HD Dads for Education.

“We’ve experienced opposition from the very beginning,” Morales said. “But we are victorious once again.”

LaVerne Prep in Hesperia, which serves mainly minority students, had the highest API score for charter schools in the High Desert and the highest API score in the entire Hesperia Unified School District.

“The parents made the right choice. We are going to roll up our sleeves and get to work,” said Debra Tarver, founder and executive director of LaVerne Prep, via speaker phone at the DTPU headquarters house. “Our job is the kids. We are ready to go there and do whatever it takes to get things the way they need to be.”

According to a press release from Parent Revolution, this is the first time in the United States that parents, using the Parent Trigger law, have had a direct say in who should run their failing school. For the Parent Trigger law to take effect, more than 50 percent of parents with children attending the school had to sign a petition in favor of comprehensive changes they would like to see made. The Adelanto School District Board of Trustees attempted to rescind 97 signatures of parents

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Florida parents have the power in making education choices, advocacy group says

Tampa Bay Times Blog
September 17, 2012

With a controversial film about the “parent trigger” as a backdrop, the school choice advocacy group Center for Education Reform has issued a new Parent Power index assessing in which states parents have “access to quality educational options and are provided with good information to make smart decisions about their children’s education.”

Florida ranks second only to Indiana, by just a tiny bit (84 percent to 83 percent on the group’s rating system). What does Florida have going for it? According to the CER:

“This state ranks consistently in the top ten for its charter laws. Florida also has been a leader in providing educational options for children with broad school choice programs. More than 22,000 children with special needs use private schools. Another 38,000 receive tax credits. Parents will find state websites easy to navigate to learn about their schools and the options available to them. Florida also is the top scorer on Digital Learning Now’s index for online learning opportunities. While there is no parent trigger available and much work still to be done, Florida ranks high in affording parents power.”

What makes Indiana better?

“Indiana has been called the “reformiest” state for good reason. A much tested and improved charter school law offers a wide variety of options. A path-breaking, statewide school choice program has attracted thousands of parents who have chosen private schools for their children. Indiana also offers more digital learning elements than 45 other states and can boast a pretty decent record of teacher quality measures that put the public in the drivers seat. These are just a few of the critical pieces that leaders have put in place to ensure that parent power in Indiana is more than a dream.”

ee the group’s Florida report

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Parents vs. The Blob

by Jeanne Allen
Highland Community News
September 10, 2012

A parent revolution is underway, and most Americans don’t have a clue it’s happening. That’s because most of us – concerned as we are about the environment, jobs and our own family’s sustainability – think education is someone else’s responsibility. And the self-perceived “owners” of the traditional education system – The Blob – stand in the way of virtually all meaningful education reform and work hard to give you the sense that everything is under control.

But reality has a way of intruding. Parents are waking up to the disturbing reality that they have no influence over where and how their children are educated. With eyes increasingly opened, they seek out others who have similar epiphanies and band together to change things. And then, like something out of a bad movie (cue creepy music) The Blob kicks into gear. The moment these parents gain any traction for real change, they find information that confirms they are not alone and they are off. And then, they are immediately maligned by phony Blob front groups portraying themselves as parent-friendly.

Case in point: As I was sitting at home on a recent Friday night, bracing myself for the week ahead when I’d be dropping my two youngest at college, I decided to tweet my pleasure over Teachers Rock, a solid hour on prime time TV whose star studded cast paid tribute to rank and file teachers. Such teachers move mountains for children and defy the status quo, often at great personal cost. This is illustrated by the upcoming feature film Won’t Back Down, which chronicles the efforts of a parent and teacher to transform their failing school. As it was advertised during the show, parent groups began praising what they saw, only to be attacked, as

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Opinion: Schooling Obama

Wall Street Journal
August 30, 2012

Jeanne Allen weighs in on parent power, education reform & the elections on WSJ Opinion Journal.

Polls, Politics and Education

by Jeanne Allen
Huffington Post
August 27, 2012

In politics, poll results are often fleeting, but they are paid much attention as a gauge on public attitudes and often influence how a candidate or leader might tackle a particular issue. With convention season here and all eyes on the presidential candidates, anyone interested in education — and the economy (which should be everyone) — should take heed to view some polls with a grain of salt.

Last week, an annual survey of public attitudes toward the schools was released by the Gallup Organization in partnership with an ivory tower group called Phi Delta Kappa. It provides additional evidence that our task is a daunting one, for despite the popularity and importance of programs that support and advance parental choice and accountability in education, this poll’s findings would have you believe otherwise.

Respondents are questioned without being given critical facts, data, and context, resulting in responses that contradict today’s current climate and demand for reform. For example, while support for scholarships (aka vouchers) increased in this year’s poll, its findings mask the true strength of public support, evidenced by other polls, by using a question that is factually incorrect and contains a built-in bias against such programs. Gallup asked if respondents favor parents being able to choose a private school “at public expense.” But parents who use scholarships to move a child from a public school (failing to meet their needs) to a private school (that will meet those needs) are certainly part of the “public!” They are targeting funds designated to educate their child to a school that will actually do so.

With nearly 6,000 charter schools in existence in 41 states and the District of Columbia, and credited with a competitive push that has finally made school districts begin to address

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Newswire: June 19, 2012

Vol. 14, No. 25

FAILURE TO LAUNCH. For all the rhetoric whirling out of the mouths of GOP leadership in Pennsylvania these days over choice as a civil rights issue or blasting educational destiny based on a zipcode, a scholarship bill that would save the educational lives of needy children and shore up a mainstay of urban education, Catholic schools, continues to languish in Harrisburg. Fingers point at both Governor Corbett and Majority Leader Turzai for holding up the bill for reasons that certainly don’t stack up when compared to the educational blight, particularly in Philadelphia, that blankets the state. Other states have stood up and delivered on vouchers – Louisiana and Indiana. And, GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has placed choice front and center in his education platform. Even the White House has done a turnaround, reaching agreement with Congress to expand D.C.’s Opportunity Scholarship program. So what’s the hold up? Pennsylvania’s leaders are beginning to give new definition to Keystone Cops when it comes to school vouchers.

MAYORS PULL TRIGGER. No equivocating here. At the National Conference of Mayors parent trigger received unanimous support. Bi-partisanship was in high gear as Democratic Mayors Michael Nutter (Philadelphia), Antonio Villaraigosa (L.A.) and Kevin Johnson (Sacramento) helped lead the effort. Union efforts to stranglehold Democratic votes against the measure failed to make a dent and, as written by Reuters reporter Stephanie Simon, is a “sign of the unions’ diminishing clout” within the ranks of their traditional allies. Brown University Professor Kenneth Wong is quoted on his view that mayors have become more “consumer oriented,” which is one reason they may back a parent trigger. Looks like all the efforts to put children and families first when it comes to improving education is having an impact on those in charge of running

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Newswire: June 12, 2012

Vol. 14, No. 24

CORBETT’S CRUSADE? Many are asking the big question- how is it that a candidate who ran and won on making school reform his first priority hasn’t been successful in achieving real reform since he’s taken office? Meanwhile, the Governor has weighed in on the debate on online schooling, criticizing the notion that online schools should be well-enough funded to provide choices that hundreds of parents use and demand. For almost 18 straight months the Corbett team has permitted the Republican House to ignore SB 1, a pathbreaking school choice bill that passed last year. Then, an effort to improve the state’s charter law to incorporate higher education in authorizing has been stalled by the status quo supporting school districts. The Governor is now taking aim at cyber charters as if cutting their funds will close the state budget gap. As Governor Corbett himself said at a school choice forum during the campaign, good education is the key to economic solvency. The Pennsylvania House adjourns June 30 but there is still time to do a real reform package, if the will is there.

“TEAR DOWN THIS WALL.” Today is the anniversary of the famous Reagan challenge to Gorbachev at the Bradenberg Gate, calling on the Russian leader to destroy the Berlin Wall that separated a country and kept half in abysmal conditions. How fitting that a similar wall holds back kids in the U.S. from social justice parity and, in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, stands as tall and solid as it was when many who were elected and promised to fight the status quo two years ago.

SWIFT BOAT OF REFORM. With far too many schools drowning academically, especially in Detroit, no wonder parent trigger is winding its way through the Michigan Legislature in order to make

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Adelanto School Board Blocks Parent Trigger

The first parent trigger attempt in Compton, California, failed, but that hasn’t stopped Desert Trails elementary parents from pursuing better educational opportunities for their kids.  The “trigger parents” plan to take the matter to court after the Adelanto school board unanimously rejected parents’ request to turn around the failing elementary school.

The basis for litigation is that the district came to the denial decision based on allegedly forged documents. The opposition tried to get parents to rescind signatures, but the original author of the parent trigger bill says this issue isn’t even addressed in legislation.  Not to mention, the turnaround petition held signatures well over the required 51% majority, even after the opposition attempted to fight back. Turnaround parents are outraged that the district didn’t even consider taking a peek at the original petition to compare to see if original documents were indeed modified.

The Mercury News duly notes that this law is proving difficult to enforce “as school districts and teachers unions have balked at the parent petitions. “Defenders of the status quo do not cede power easily,” said Ben Austin, executive director of Parent Revolution, the nonprofit spearheading the parent trigger movement.

Check back here as this story unfolds, and be sure to follow Parent Revolution on Twitter to stay up to speed as they fight for parents to have a say in their kids’ future.

CA Trigger Turnaround Rejected

“Adelanto school leaders reject parent trigger effort”
by Teresa Watanabe
Los Angeles Times
March 29, 2012

Mojave Desert school officials late Wednesday denied a petition by parents to overhaul their children’s failing school, dealing a major blow to forces aiming to win the first reform under the state’s pioneering parent trigger law.

Adelanto school board members unanimously rejected the petition to turn Desert Trails Elementary into a charter campus, finding that it failed to win the support of parents representing at least half of the school’s 642 students, as the law requires. The school has the lowest standardized test scores in Adelanto, with fewer than half the students proficient in math and English.

Petition supporters, who allege that opponents doctored documents to sink their campaign, said they would challenge the board decision in court.

“While we are disappointed and outraged, we are hardly surprised by the board’s decision tonight to rely on fraud and forgery to defend the status quo,” said Doreen Diaz of Desert Trails Parent Union, which launched the petition campaign.

But Lori Yuan, a parent leader on the other side, expressed relief: “Now we can focus on making actual improvements to the school rather than be distracted by outside issues.”

The vote capped weeks of mounting conflict and mutual charges of deceit between two groups of parents, one assisted by the California Teachers Assn., a union, the other by Parent Revolution, a Los Angeles nonprofit that lobbied for the parent trigger law.

The 2010 law allows parents representing at least half the students at low-performing schools to close their campus, transfer management to a charter operator or change the staff and curriculum.

In Adelanto, parents representing what they said was 70% of the school’s students submitted a petition in January asking for a charter school. But the board rejected it last month, saying it fell 16

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Parent Empowerment Triggers Debate

“‘Parent trigger’ bill triggering debate in Florida”
by Bill Kaczor, Associated Press
Miami Herald
March 5, 2012

A bill that would let parents “trigger” a turnaround plan for failing schools would cause disputes and dissension in Florida’s public schools, opponents said Monday.

That’s yet to be proven, but it is causing plenty of turmoil in the Florida Legislature as it has in California, where the idea originated.

The Florida PTA and other bipartisan opponents held a news conference Monday to criticize not only the bill that’s supported by former Republican Gov. Jeb Bush but the way it’s been ramrodded through the GOP-controlled Legislature.

School officials would be required to adopt a turnaround plan if a majority of parents sign a petition.

Supporters say the “parent trigger” is a way to empower parents and encourage them to participate in school affairs. Critics contend it’s a ploy for handing public schools to private management or charter school companies.

“It has everything to do with laying the groundwork for the hostile, corporate takeover of public schools,” said Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich of Weston. “Parents will divide against parents and even children will divide against children.”

Florida PTA Vice President Dawn Steward said corporations put the stockholders’ interest first.

“Their stockholders aren’t going to necessarily be children,” Steward said. “My stockholders are children and I’m a volunteer and I represent 330,000 voices.”

The trigger bill is being pushed by Bush’s Foundation for Florida’s Future and the California-based Parent Revolution. The group contends the legislation is not intended to promote charters, although that’s one turnaround option.

Parent Revolution spokeswoman Linda Serrato said it actually would add another step – the parents’ petition – to existing procedure for creating charters, which get public funding but are run by entities other than elected local school boards.

“So to put it in context, I’m a big bad for-profit charter

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