Parent trigger: Hollywood vs. reality

Adelanto parents attempt to take control of their failing school was rejected by the Desert Trails school board last night. Seventy percent of parents in the Southern California town had signed the “parent trigger” petition, but that dropped below 50 percent after a two-week campaign to persuade signers to rescind. Parent Revolution, which is backing the trigger drive, charges the California Teachers Association and local teachers unions intimidated and misled parents.

Last night, as Desert Trails Parent Union parents defended their organizing efforts and their right to stand for their children’s education, teacher’s union representatives and other school staff attacked parents, one by one. The loudest cheering from the school staff came when the opposition boldly blamed the parents for all of the school’s woes, causing the defenders of the status quo to erupt in wild applause. . . . For over a week and a half parents have been harassed by those pushing a rescission campaign with tactics that included photographing parents that refused to rescind their signature, and telling parents that the school would close on Wednesday if they didn’t sign a rescission petition before Tuesday’s meeting.

Update: Here’s the Los Angeles Times story.

In an upcoming Hollywood movie, Won’t Back Down, however, parents and teachers unite to take over a failing school.

Viola Davis, an Oscar nominee as best actress for The Help, plays a teacher who risks career and friendships to join the revolt. Maggie Gyllenhaal is the single mother who sells cars, tends bar and rouses parents to take charge of their grade school.

Holly Hunter, the union rep, loves her teachers and so she fights the takeover with a ploy you might expect from a corporate villain.

“When did Norma Rae get to be the bad guy?” Ms. Hunter mutters.

The movie is set in Pittsburgh, though Pennsylvania doesn’t have a parent trigger law.

A take-over in Adelanto would have been the first in the nation.

The Desert Trails parents threatened a locally run charter school as a last resort to pressure the board into negotiating changes in the elementary school. Negotiations were going well. I wonder if that progress will end now that the threat of a takeover is diminished.

Of course, a lawsuit is possible — very possible. Parents Union members are trying to talk to parents who rescinded their signatures. If only a few parents re-rescind and claimed they were tricked or bullied into backing down, the petition will be back over the 50 percent mark.

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