Locking the parent trigger

California’s parent-trigger law lets a majority of parents at a chronically low-performing school petition for change in management, including conversion to a charter school. But parents are finding it hard to use the law, writes Ben Boychuk in Locking the Parent Trigger in City Journal.

A judge invalidated the petition by McKinley school parents in Compton on a technicality; there was no date box.

Parents had wanted Celerity, which operates several local charters,  to take over McKinley. Instead Celerity will open a new charter elementary in a church a few blocks away.  Los County Office of Education officials approved the new Celerity Sirius campus. The church building is big enough for 220 students; McKinley now enrolls 426. It will be fascinating to see how many children enroll in the new charter and how they do.

Celerity runs high-performing charter schools, according to Andrew Coulson’s analysis.  The three Celerity schools open long enough to generate test data all rank among the top 10 percent for schools with similar populations of low-income Hispanic and black students, notes the LA Times in a profile of Celerity founder Vielka McFarlane, a Panamanian immigrant.

About Joanne

Comments

  1. CarolineSF says:

    It wasn’t parents who engaged the so-called Parent Trigger at McKinley Elementary in Compton. It was the organization Parent Revolution, which was founded by charter operators and operates on behalf of charter operators.

    Parent Revolution chose the school to target and chose the charter operator to take over the school before their paid operation ever approached a single McKinley parent.

    The big question here: Parent Revolution WROTE the law (carried by former state Sen. Gloria Romero) that created the Parent Trigger process. So why didn’t they know the signatures required dates? It’s not an irrational requirement, as the signers need to be parents at the school (or in some cases at feeder schools) at the time that they sign the petition.

    The logistics of the situation — handing over public property to a private operator based on petition signatures — are certainly impossible, but whose fault is that? Parent Revolution conceived the idea and wrote the law. Just who is Ben Boychuk blaming?

  2. You’ve been flogging that particular falsehood for some time. Give it up.

    The parents signed the petition. They signed the petition as soon as they were made aware that there was, potentially, an alternative to the execrable school they were forced to send their kids too. Those are the schools you think are just peachy.

    Now the defenders of that execrable status quo, who have little to no regard for the kids or the parents, have gotten a reprieve. Well hooray for you. Not so good for the kids or parents but who gives a damn about them, hey?

    Certainly not you.

  3. CarolineSF says:

    The gratuitous personal slaps reveal that you have no actual case to make, Allen.

    Yes, the parents signed the petition. But they didn’t initiate the move or ask for such a move to be initiated, or choose the charter operator l (or the option of charterizing — they didn’t even know they had any other options).

    I didn’t say that the school was “just peachy.” On the other hand, it’s interesting in relation to the Ravitch-Alter-cation. That flap is based on the fact that President Obama and the entire corporate reform movement are hailing the Bruce Randolph school in Denver as a big success, after some corporate-reformer-approved changes that removed some rights from teachers and such.

    Diane Ravitch pointed out (in an NY Times commentary) that the school’s achievement is actually abysmal
    and that it’s an example of corporate reformers staking claim to successes that are simply false.

    Alter claims that it’s true the school’s achievement is rock-bottom, but it’s a tiny bit higher than it was previously, so it’s still valid to hail it as a big success.

    Well, McKinley Elementary in Compton had recently had a big jump in achievement (not a tiny bump like Bruce Randolph’s) — yet it has been blasted nationwide as a dismal failure, an “execrable school.”

    So why are the corporate-reform voices hailing Bruce Randolph as a great reform excess with rock-bottom achievement that’s just a hair higher than it used to be, while blasting McKinley Elementary as “execrable” after a large jump in achievement?

    I’ll take my answer on the air, please.

  4. Roger Sweeny says:

    Yes, the parents signed the petition. But they didn’t initiate the move or ask for such a move to be initiated, or choose the charter operator l (or the option of charterizing — they didn’t even know they had any other options).

    I don’t see what moral difference that makes. California is full of petition campaigns that originate with some organization or coalition. The organizations then try to get signatures on their petitions. No one thinks those signatures are invalid.

    More broadly, most laws begin with an organization or group of organizations pushing for them. Often, the organization helps with drafting or finds a legislative sponsor who will submit as a bill what the organization itself has written.

  5. Charles Cowens says:

    What’s the “falsehood” here, allen? Are you saying Parent Revolution didn’t write the trigger law?

  6. CarolineSF says:

    Straw man. I didn’t say it makes a moral difference. It’s a factual difference.

    it’s false to describe it as the parents’ petition drive, which is what Joanne and others are constantly saying. The petition drive was not initiated or requested by the parents. And Parent Revolution didn’t “help” with drafting a petition. They initiated the entire thing — planned it BEFORE picking the district and school to target, created the petition, set up the well-funded operation, hired the staff to collect the signatures etc.

  7. Caroline SF:

    If it provides more power and choice to the parents…who cares?

    Your argument is clearly that this was some sinister process designed to allow someone to make money while providing a service to the parents.

    Unless you have evidence that the education the students are receiving is worse than the public school they would otherwise attend, so what?

  8. Gratuitous? If my characterization of you were gratuitous you wouldn’t be so anxious to move the subject from the fact that the current system is detested by the people who have no alternatives. That’s the system you’re supporting.

    It’s entirely irrelevant that the parents didn’t initiate the petition. What is relevant is that the parents, when apprised of some alternative didn’t require any persuasion to seize it. That’s why you’re trying to keep the focus on irrelevancies and that’s the factor underlying the drive to upend the current public education model.

    So here’s what’s going to happen; parental dissatisfaction will continue to drive the spread of charters, vouchers and all the rest of the substantive reforms defenders of the status quo like you detest. There’s nothing you can do to stop it and not much you can do to slow it down.

    At some point in the future the realization will strike home that, far from being underfunded, the current system is fantastically over-funded and the states will seize on that fact to drive the public education system in the direction an increasingly large number of dissatisfied parents have been pushing it for the past twenty years.

    Kind of makes you wonder what the next twenty years will hold, hey?

  9. Roger Sweeny says:

    CarolineSF,

    A hypothetical: The Sierra Club and a coalition of anti-nuclear groups draw up a petition to close a particular nuclear plant. They have picked it because it has a bad reputation, they think it is poorly run, and they think they’ll be able to get a lot of people to sign. Many of their members try to get signatures and find that a lot of people are willing to sign. There is a lot of bad feeling in the area about the plant.

    Now, would you characterize this as a “people’s petition drive” or as a “corporate petition drive”? The Sierra Club is, after all, a corporation–as are most all environmental organizations.

  10. CarolineSF says:

    I believe that the drawbacks of handing public property over to private operators — especially with this sketchy process — outweigh any benefits. (We can see how shoddily the law was slapped together from the fact that its authors couldn’t follow it correctly.)

    I can argue that to your heart’s content.

    But my point in posting here was to correct the inaccurate indication that the parents initiated the petition; and also to point out that it’s the law’s own authors who couldn’t follow it, so who is Ben Boychuk blaming for that?

    http://toped.svefoundation.org/2011/03/17/parent-trigger-misfires-by-disrupting-and-dismantling-local-schools/

  11. Roger Sweeny says:

    CarolineSF,

    Years ago I attended an Italian Festival in Boston’s North End. At one point, I wandered down to the harbor and found myself at a Coast Guard Station. There was a big sign on the gate. “PUBLIC PROPERTY No Trespassing.” I kind of wondered what was beyond the gate and thought, well, I’m part of the public, why don’t I walk up to the guardhouse and say, “Hi, I’m one of the owners; I’d like to inspect my property.”

    But I realized that wouldn’t work. And if I tried to walk in anyway, I’d probably be stopped by armed men, who would be completely within the law to have me arrested.

    But how is that possible? How can I trespass on my own property? Because it wasn’t really my property. It was the property of the U.S. government, and in particular the Department of Defense (that was before DHS). Now, like the rest of the government, the Department of Defense is in some way supposed to represent me–BUT IT ISN’T ME. (And it often does things which I do not approve of, “Not in my name” and all that.) Public property is actually the property of some government agency.

  12. CarolineSF says:

    I think you’re getting into an absurd analogy, Roger.

    Handing a school over to a private operator based on 50%+1 signatures would be akin to doing that with a park, or a police station, or a public hospital. As I say, it causes more problems than it solves.

  13. Why is choice so important when it comes to abortion, but so dangerous when it comes to education?

  14. For the record, I am a public school teacher, active in my local union and I support vouchers, charters, home schooling and private schools. Parents should have as much choice as possible when it comes to the safety and education of their children.

  15. “Why is choice so important when it comes to abortion, but so dangerous when it comes to education?”

    Nice comment, gahrie, but don’t bother with logic and commone sense.

    Here again: To start the slow improvement of schools in this country, my tax money follows my child to the school of my choice. Competition, competition, competition.

  16. CarolineSF says:

    Competition creates winners and losers, which hurts kids. Education needs to be about cooperation, not nya-nya-I-win-you-lose.

  17. Michael E. Lopez says:

    Actually, the theory is that competition as a market philosophy creates big winners and little winners, but very few actual net losers — particularly in terms of customers, who are all net winners.

    That’s the theory, anyway.

  18. Competition creates winners and losers, which hurts kids.

    The winners and losers in this case are schools, not neccessarily students.

    Our currents system is producing mainly losers now. Graduation rates from public high schools hover around 50% in many areas, and of those who do graduate and go to college, a huge percentage are forced into remedial courses.

    I can’t see how choice could possibly produce worse results, and if they are, it should be easy for you to cite the evidence.

  19. CarolineSF says:

    Well, you’ve contradicted yourself, gahrie. I believe that a system pitting schools against each other is very much designed to make winners out of some kids and, nya-nya, losers out of others. It’s coldhearted and ruthless.

    That said, I dispute that our current system is producing “mainly losers,” and as the parent of urban public school students, I take offense. High-poverty schools and impoverished students are too often struggling. I know that the corporate-reform script currently attempts to paint all U.S. schools as failing, but that doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

    I would challenge the claim that dropout rates are 50% “in many areas,” though they are certainly too high.

    I also challenge the notion that all kids must go to college or be branded failures, but that’s another issue.

    There are plenty of crashing failures among charter schools — despite the positive press coverage they routinely get. But not only that, they do damage to other schools and the children in them. But that’s also another dissertation for another thread. Check out
    http://charterschoolscandals.blogspot.com/

  20. Stacy in NJ says:

    Caroline, What planet do you live on? There are already winners and losers. Our current educational system perpetrates and reinforces those roles it doesn’t ameliorate them. It serves the interests of those making a living off of the status quo. How do you earn your daily bread? Wait, don’t answer. We already know.

  21. tim-10-ber says:

    CAroline — I am betting by living in an urban district and having your kids in pulblic schools they are in academic magnets…or honors and AP only classes…is this right? I am truly curious.

    I, too, live in an urban district. I tried the public schools for 14 years including the academic magnets and well…we fled to private school…

    We loved the diversity of the government schools but the needs of my higher achieving kids were not being met…even at the top 30 ranked academic magnet.

    Government schools today create, by design I believe winners and loser…those that can make use of choice choose…those that cannot get screwed in many cases by a system that says one size fits all…we know this cannot be further from the truth….

    I am glad government urban schools work for you but for countless others even though graduation rates are rising…they just don’t work…yeah more kids are graduating but just what have they learned? Not much looking at the high rate of remediation needed at 2 and 4 year colleges…

    Please share the district where your kids are enrolled…maybe it is the best performing urban district mentioned in an article on educationnews…I want to know what district is the best performing urban district and how they are doing it…

    Please continue being satisfied with your kids school…that is a good thing and I hope they truly are good…

    Please understand countless others of us have had negative experiences with our government schools…speaking only for myself…I know they can do a much, much better job for all kids but as noted on CNN by our former governor the government schools continue to lie to the students and their families about how well they are (not) doing…sadly in my district and state they have an incredibly long way to go…

    best of luck to you and your kids…

  22. Kids are already being hurt by a system that restricts access to schools based on the parents’ ability to afford a residence within the zoned neighborhood. How is this not creating winners and losers? Charters are part of the solution to this problem because anyone can enter the lottery. I don’t have to be able to afford a million dollar home to have a shot at my child attending a decent school.

  23. CarolineSF says:

    Stacy in NJ, I gather you’re accusing me of being one of the despised and rejected — a (horrors — anything but that!) teacher. Oh my god — no! (Oh, and advocates of corporate education reform NEVER EVER teacher-bash, do they?)

    I’m not, actually. I do communications for a nonprofit currently, but spent the longest stretch of my career in the now-collapsed newspaper industry, working for the same employer as Joanne Jacobs, in fact. My husband, also a newspaper journalist displaced by the industry collapse, IS a teacher, but only for the past two years, and I’ve been a public school advocate and critic-challenger of corporate education reform for more than 10 years, before we had the tiniest notion that that career change was in our future. By the way, teaching is vastly more challenging and exhausting than journalism, he can attest, and he regularly wonders where all these greedy deadbeat loser teachers that his ex-colleagues envision are located.

    Tim-10-ber, I guess my kids just aren’t as special and superior as yours. They’ve been in various school situations probably covering the gamut, from a disdained “dirty, dangerous ghetto” middle school (which we loved) to an arts magnet high school. I’m entering my last year as an SFUSD mom and it has been overall successful for them.

    Crimson Wife, yes, the inequities in our society inherently create winners and losers. But creating a deliberate competition where it’s intended that some schools and their students will be the triumphant victors crushing the humiliated and downtrodden losers is not right and isn’t going to help our schools succeed, either.

  24. CarolineSF says:

    Oh, in case I wasn’t clear, San Francisco Unified School District.

    Sorry I was snarky, Tim-10-ber. That was quite a barrage, what with the unjust accusation that I was a — noooooo! — teacher and all.

  25. Michael E. Lopez says:

    Well, you’ve contradicted yourself, gahrie. I believe that a system pitting schools against each other is very much designed to make winners out of some kids and, nya-nya, losers out of others.

    And I believe that both of these statements are false.

    First, when Gahrie was “contradicting” himself, it was because he was trying to make his second point using your terminology (i.e., that the students are the losers). You don’t get to dismiss someone because they were doing you a rhetorical courtesy, Caroline.

    Second, while systems of competition could be designed for the purposes you describe, it certainly doesn’t follow that they must be. Even if I were to grant you that systems of competition necessarily lead to “winners and nya-nya losers”, it could be an unintended byproduct. Perhaps some particular system is so designed, and perhaps you’d like to make such an argument; but that’s not what you’re arguing here. (Or rather, it seems that you are trying to argue that all such specific systems are so constituted, but by way of a general principle which is simply false.)

    I’d agree with you that a system that was instituted with the specific purpose of ridiculing the “losers” would be evidence that the intentions at work were “coldhearted and ruthless”, as you said. But that very fact, I think, makes it less likely that any specific system of competition is so designed: there are plenty of coldhearted and ruthless people, but with respect to how people treat their fellow citizens they are at best a plurality, and certainly not a majority.

    Maybe they’re a majority in San Francisco — big cities are a little different. But you don’t want to paint with too broad a brush.

  26. Stacy in NJ says:

    Caroline, you shouldn’t say such negative things about teachers; unless I misunderstand you and your attaching opinions to my comments that I haven’t expressed. I love how you attach the adjective “corporate” to everything. Because corporations are evil, as opposed to public service. Good luck with that.

  27. CarolineSF says:

    I attach the adjective “corporate” to “education reform” to distinguish the currently vogueish package of fads and nostrums from true, positive education reform. I don’t randomly attach it elsewhere.

    Yes, I infer from your comment that you view teachers with disdain and hostility, Stacy in in NJ. That was due to the tone of the “I can guess how you earn your money” jab. It wasn’t exactly infused with respect and admiration.

    Fair point about my response to Gahrie, Michael. … And yes, I actually do think that creating losers is the unintended byproduct of a system that divides districts and schools, and thus kids, into winners and losers — though it doesn’t take a lot of deep thought to see that that will be the result. There are decent (if not very thoughtful or informed) people who think that the race and the competition are a good idea while still not wanting to see children harmed. Others shrug.

    I do think there’s a lot of coldhearted ruthlessness at work in some of the corporate education reform talk. For example, when we discuss the fact that charters siphon students and thus resources from school districts, which obviously does harm — yes, the response is pretty much ” **** ’em” about the schools and students who are harmed by that. That’s coldhearted and ruthless by anyone’s standards.

  28. But creating a deliberate competition where it’s intended that some schools and their students will be the triumphant victors crushing the humiliated and downtrodden losers is not right and isn’t going to help our schools succeed, either.

    I see the issue a ltlle differently than you apparently. Maybe my perspective as a classroom teacher is the reason.

    I see school choice in all of its forms as a way for concerned parents and motivated students to find an environment to succeed in, free from the distractions, disruptions and dangers of the unmotivated and unwilling students and their uncaring parents. Public schools are no longer able or willing to provide this environment for them.

    I have been very clear in my beliefs that it is not teachers who are failing students.In fact, I believe it is the educrats and the system they run that is failing both teachers and students.

    For example, when we discuss the fact that charters siphon students and thus resources from school districts, which obviously does harm — yes, the response is pretty much ” **** ‘em” about the schools and students who are harmed by that. That’s coldhearted and ruthless by anyone’s standards.

    From my point of view it is educational triage, and just like medical triage it can seem coldhearted and ruthless to bystanders.

  29. Richard Aubrey says:

    “crushing the humiliated and downtrodden losers” is unnecessarily dramatic. Many of the losers in question don’t care.
    As it stands, the current losers are lost in the crowd. If a bully steals a kid’s lunch money or books at a public school, the kid isn’t a “loser” by the edcrats’ definition. He’s collateral damage. Presuming you could get a ‘crat to admit it happened.
    What we seem to be objecting to is changing who’s winning and who’s losing, or at least allow some kids not currently winning to win. The horror.
    Yeah, a kid leaves school and takes some money with him. He also takes himself with him. So, not having to be taught, he saves the school some money. I agree that it isn’t a dollar for dollar saving, but it is a saving. Enough kids leave and you can reduce teaching staff–but not administrators, of course. Still, that’s something. Some years ago, when parents and accountability became connected, along with charters and so forth in our state, a principal of a public HS said, it makes us better to compete. Words to that effect. Nobody asked him why they weren’t better already, if they had the tools to do it. Probably it was just parents complaining, which is meaningless.

  30. CarolineSF says:

    Richard Aubrey, that’s absolutely wrong. When a child leaves a school, it harms the school and the rest of the children in the school. Of course it doesn’t save the school any money to have an open seat in a classroom with a teacher — it doesn’t reduce the cost in the slightest. Sure, if a whole classroom full of kids leaves, you can shut down the classroom. Eventually you can shut down the school (in which case the most vulnerable and challenged kids, who would not apply to nor be allowed into the charter, are left out in the cold).

    This is a valid point:

    “From my point of view it is educational triage, and just like medical triage it can seem coldhearted and ruthless to bystanders.”

    …except that in medical triage, the weakest and most in need are treated first (unless there’s no chance of saving them). In this kind of educational triage, the kids with motivated families who care about education are “treated” first, while the weakest and most in need are kicked aside with the shrug and the ” **** ’em.”

  31. George Larson says:

    “When a child leaves a school, it harms the school and the rest of the children in the school.”

    CarolineSF,

    In my educational quest I must have been very destructive. I attended 5 elementary schools, 2 Junior Highs and 3 High Schools.

    If you are right well also have to outlaw families moving from neighborhoods with inferior schools.

    Yes! Trap them all in the Gulag.

    Your medical analogy does not work. Because the medical profession has professionals who follow protocols that work. Our schools do not.

  32. Richard Aubrey says:

    Caroline.
    If I were to take you seriously, the kids should be stuck in the school so as to keep the school revenues up, irrespective of the educational malpractice therein.
    If one kid leaves, no big deal. If thirty or forty kids leave, you can down size the staff and save some money.
    Thing to do is to make the school the kind of school nobody wants to leave.
    If that’s not too much trouble, that is.

  33. Caroline:

    When a child leaves a school, it harms the school and the rest of the children in the school.

    Do you really believe that the children belong to the schools?!?

    To extend your position, shouldn’t we make all private schools and homeschooling illegal?

  34. It’s always interesting when the anti-choice side makes the argument that school choice is a bad idea because too many kids would want to leave the traditional public schools. Um, that’s rather the point. If so many kids want to leave, what makes you think you have the right to keep them there by force?

  35. CarolineSF says:

    Um, people, when I say it harms a school when a student (and his or her funding) leave, that’s not equivalent to calling for a ban on transferring out of a school. That’s a pretty absurd stretch, especially for four different posters to make.

    Richard, it IS a big deal when students leave and seats are left vacant. I’m about to enter my 26th kid-year as an urban public school parent. There have been a number of years, in various of my kids’ schools, when the budget was set based on a fully enrolled school, and then when school opened there were vacant seats, and each one was enough of a funding hit that it seriously hurt.

    I’m sure you’re all gearing up to take one or another swipe or jab at my kids’ schools, or public school in general, based on that comment. The swipes and jabs should basically be aimed at the student placement bureaucracy in our district — seats were sometimes left open even though families were on the waiting list for the school.

    And, again, I hear all of you implicitly saying ” **** ’em” about the kids who are left in a school (a hypothetical school in this case) when a selective charter siphons out the less challenging, more desirable students.

  36. Stuart Buck says:

    Actually, you’re the one saying “f them” to the kids who want a different option, just because that will supposedly leave your kids with a few dollars less.

  37. that’s not equivalent to calling for a ban on transferring out of a school. That’s a pretty absurd stretch, especially for four different posters to make

    Why? This thread has been an argument about the value of increasing ways for students to transfer out of schools.

    I hear all of you implicitly saying ” **** ‘em” about the kids who are left in a school (a hypothetical school in this case) when a selective charter siphons out the less challenging, more desirable students.

    Not me.

    I’m saying I’m more worried about the students/parents who want to transfer out.

    Once the committed students/parents have found a place where their children can be educated safely and effectively, when can then deal with the uncommitted, unwilling and unable more effectively also. the biggest problem is pretending that we can educate all of these students effectively at the same time in the same classroom.

    Look I support public schools and public education. I would love to see us get the train back on track. However, I am a far, far bigger supporter of allowing parents and students as much choice as possible.

  38. Roger Sweeny says:

    CarolineSF,

    You bring up a very, very profound question. Just about everything everyone does has an effect, good or bad, on other people. Sometimes those effects are so clear and important that we say governments should have the power to force people to do or not do something.

    Allowing good students to leave a bad school is going to leave the school worse off. Some people would then say that leaving the school should not be allowed. I don’t think you would support a law keeping people from changing their residence but you certainly do seem to support not opening an option to move kids to a charter. And I wonder, if you had your druthers, you would make private schools and homeschooling illegal. Many places with government-provided medical care make it illegal to supplement the state system or go outside it. Because, of course, if you allow it, people with more money are going to do it.

    Of course, in the short run, a school that loses good students is going to be worse off. But schools where no one can leave may be worse off in the long run because there is no penalty for being crappy.

  39. CarolineSF says:

    You’re wrong to suppose that I want to make homeschooling and private schools illegal, Roger. The stretches are really getting past the point of absurdity.

    As far as the cherry-picking issue, I’m looking at the big picture. If charter schools drain the motivated and informed families out of public schools, leaving only the children of the unmotivated, uninformed, uninvolved, uncaring, etc., that still isn’t “fixing” education. The big challenge is the children of the unmotivated, uninformed, uninvolved, uncaring etc. And, again, the attitude of the charter advocates is, “They lose and so what?”

    It’s not so simple as “crappy” schools, either. There’s not a bright line delineating good schools from crappy schools. There are plenty of schools that are functioning but challenged. Those are the schools that are really harmed when charters drain their more-motivated students.

    I’m not inherently saying that the charter sector shouldn’t be allowed, but it should be honest. This particular discussion has been surprisingly honest. The norm for charter advocates is to vigorously deny that charter schools enroll only the children of the motivated, informed, involved, caring etc. I’ve had that debate with many of them, often.

    And then it needs to be acknowledged that this doesn’t solve the most challenging problem, which is successfully educating the children of the unmotivated, uninformed, uninvolved, uncaring etc.

    Stuart Buck, you are out of line in saying it’s about *my* kids — I take offense, dispute and refute that. I don’t do the amount of unpaid volunteer advocacy that I do for the personal benefit of my own kids — how dare you? (Pragmatically speaking, my youngest is a rising high school senior, anyway.)

  40. Richard Aubrey says:

    Caroline
    Your planted axiom is that caring, motivated, informed parents make a difference. You must know that’s crap. Public schools are armor-plated against significant parental influence.
    I mentioned a case once, on another board, and a teacher said I should “lead an avalanche” against the admin to get the problem fixed. It’s possible that, had I been able to arrange an avalanche, the problem would have gotten fixed. Point is, though, a professional thinks an avalanche–not just concerned parental input–is necessary.
    By the time a school is forced to fix a problem, by the time the fix becomes effective, the kids are years beyond the problem. It didn’t happen in time for them and caring, motivated, informed parents are too busy looking after their own kids to try to fix things for the next decade’s classes. And, by then, not having kids in the school is a handy smear for the opponents of change if the parent can find time for it after his kids are on their own.
    My DIL is tutoring a bunch of kids this summer becauses the third-grade teacher was a catastrophe the first semester and the replacement couldn’t catch them up. How does a caring, informed, motivated parent fix that in time for the fix to work? Right. Pay my DIL whatever’s left over after paying for the public school.
    The kids of caring, concerned, motivated parents are not human sacrifices to be kept around on the off-chance the admin might be influenced for the better.

  41. If districts don’t want to lose students to charters (they’re *ALL* public or more accurately government schools), then they need to find out what types of programs the families are seeking & then offer them.

    My district has many schools that are under-enrolled, yet each year the local Montessori charter school and the local private Classical model school gets many more applications than there are slots.

    If district administrators operated more like business executives, they’d look at the situation and think, “hey, there’s an untapped market for customer growth. Let’s close a couple of our under-enrolled schools and open new Montessori and Classical magnet schools.” More students would enroll in the district, bringing in additional revenue from the state. It would be a win-win situation as more students would be able to attend programs they want and the district would gain financially.

  42. OK, Caroline, you’re the one saying “F them” to the kids who want to leave — perhaps because they’re more “motivated” or perhaps because they’re FAILING — only because you think that keeping those either-motivated-or-failing students where they are, by force, is somehow going to benefit someone else.

    Your “F them” is way worse from any moral perspective. You’re in favor of basically enslaving other people’s children to your preferences, whereas people who merely want to transfer to a different school may wish the very best for all the children who remain in the public school.

  43. Sorry, I know “enslaving” is inflammatory language. But there’s really nothing more insulting and asinine than telling parents who think their kids are better off somewhere else that they are saying “f**** em” to everyone else. If that’s really the case, then you are equally guilty of saying “f*** em” to Catholic school students — after all, lots of good Catholic schools have had to close because of not enough tuition-paying students, and by putting your kids in a (free) public school, you’re contributing to the death of Catholic schools. That is, by your standard, everyone should be condemned for saying “f*** em” to every school that their child does NOT attend.

    [Note: I have 5 children in a public school right now, which is about as much as the entire board of “Parents Across America” put together.]

  44. The big challenge is the children of the unmotivated, uninformed, uninvolved, uncaring etc. And, again, the attitude of the charter advocates is, “They lose and so what?”

    You cannot help those who don’t want to be and refuse to be helped.

  45. CarolineSF says:

    Richard, this isn’t specifically what I’m saying in this discussion, though bear with me:

    “Your planted axiom is that caring, motivated, informed parents make a difference. You must know that’s crap.”

    — My point is that it’s the children of caring, motivated, informed parents who leave for charter schools, and those are the children more likely to succeed.
    — However, I know up close and personal that having caring, motivated, informed parents in a school community makes a difference. The middle school that my kids attended was scorned as a “dirty, dangerous ghetto school” when my son started. More caring, motivated, informed parents started seeing its benefits over the years, and it’s now one of SFUSD’s “trophy” middle schools. There are many SFUSD schools in that situation — schools formerly scorned and struggling and now popular and successful because of an influx families with involved parents.

    Crimson Wife, this is unclear on the concept.
    “If districts don’t want to lose students to charters (they’re *ALL* public or more accurately government schools), then they need to find out what types of programs the families are seeking & then offer them.”

    Types of programs? Parents aren’t seeking out charters for their “programs.”
    Here are factors that benefit charters:
    — Gushing, unquestioning press
    — Gushing, unquestioning support from elected officials
    — Ample marketing budgets at many charter schools. For those without their own ample marketing budgets, they still benefit from the positive image of charters generated by the billionaires who fund pro-charter efforts, the think tanks and the aforementioned fawning media. (Seen “Waiting for Superman”?)
    — The fact that charters don’t include the students who pose the greatest challenges to public education.

    None of those factors can be replicated in public schools (charters are private schools run with public money).

    Stuart, I am obviously not advocating keeping anyone anywhere by force. I’m discussing the harm that charter schools do to public schools and the children in them.

    I’m not talking about the parents who put their kids in charters. I’m talking about the advocates who present charters as the great solution to public education. THOSE are the ones willing to kick aside the students who can’t/won’t pursue an option like charter schools if everyone else leaves for charters.

    All the founding members of Parents Across America are public school parents — or have been; some of us have older kids. That’s a bizarre comment. Are you trying to imply that we’re all childless?

  46. Roger Sweeny says:

    (charters are private schools run with public money)

    CarolineSF, What do you mean by that? Charters don’t charge tuition. They are funded with taxes just like other public schools. What makes them private schools?

  47. “All the founding members of Parents Across America are public school parents — or have been; some of us have older kids. That’s a bizarre comment. Are you trying to imply that we’re all childless?”

    No, I’m just having a little fun based on the fact that when I scroll down the webpage, many of the founding members look 60+, and others have 1 or 2 kids. And I guess I’m implying that I have more right to speak for “public school parents” — as in current parents of young children — than do many of your members.

  48. Stuart, I am obviously not advocating keeping anyone anywhere by force.

    Yes you absolutely are. Limit charters and vouchers, and then there’s only one choice for most poor parents: the local public school to which they are assigned. Given truancy laws, they are FORCED to go there. That means you’re in favor of keeping them there at the point of a gun if need be. Be honest about it.

  49. THOSE are the ones willing to kick aside the students who can’t/won’t pursue an option like charter schools if everyone else leaves for charters.

    Which is the bigger sin: damaging the education of students who are trying to educate themselves, or damaging the education of the students who are unwilling to be educated and actively destroy the educational environment?

  50. Richard Aubrey says:

    Caroline,
    Presuming the SFUSD schools you mention got good by sheer effort and not by, say, gentrification of the neighborhoods, turfing out the hard cases to alternate settings, or some other scheme which critics insist is the way charters and privates work, we still have a problem.
    If I, as a parent, see a problem, and if I as a parent have the time and the energy and the organizational skills, how long does it take me and my posse to get the principal and, say, a quarter of the teachers at the loser school replaced? Right. Too long to benefit my kids. As one principal told me about a drunk math teacher, “He’s got to retire some time.” Or go on disability, I suppose.
    So, seeing that, and seeing MY KIDS and the problem, the solution for MY KIDS is to put them elsewhere.
    cal may dismiss my anecdote, but it matters not what he thinks of it. What matters is what I think of it. That’s what effects my decision. Not his self-serving comment.
    Your scheme, as far as I can tell, is that, by forcing the active and motivated parents to keep their kids in loser schools, the parents will be forced to use their energy to improve the loser schools.
    Hell, we’re paying the professionals to do the right thing. Why do we need unpaid labor to force them, against their will, to do the right thing?

  51. Mark Roulo says:

    cal may dismiss my anecdote, but it matters not what he thinks of it.

    She.

  52. CarolineSF says:

    A little age discrimination, Stuart Buck?

    And this is going too far — wanting to destroy our schools is one thing, but telling us we look older than we are is beyond the pale. (For the record, I’m 57 and my kids are 17 and 20.)

    Seriously, you’ll see it in the higher levels of the PTA too — parents of older kids or young adults fill the volunteer roles that are most demanding and tend to include travel, conventions and such. The reasons aren’t subtle, needless to say. These are parents who’ve been engaged with their kids’ schools all along and NOW have the freedom to take on this kind of role. I don’t think that’s a sinister plot. You often see this on school boards too, for that matter.

  53. Stuart Buck says:

    I know, just kidding around. But seriously, the group calling itself “Parents Across America” doesn’t represent “parents” in general, not even close. It represents a subset of parents who don’t like school choice, etc., but opposes all the parents who do like school choice. Parents don’t agree on these issues any more than non-parents do.