‘No confidence’ petition included teachers

A Los Angeles parent trigger campaign forced out the principal of a low-performing school, but most teachers say they’ll leave too, disappointing the parents. Here’s a new wrinkle: In June 2011, months before Weigand Parents United was formed to launch the parent trigger campaign, parents and six teachers signed a petition expressing “no confidence” in the principal, Irma Cobian. Several parents complained she was rude to parents and hostile to special needs students.

The principal stayed at Weigand and all six teachers who signed the petition left, according to Parent Revolution, which helped organize the parent trigger campaign. Teacher turnover has been high at the school: Of 22 teachers at Weigand in Principal Cobian’s first year, 2009-10, 14 have left the school.

During Cobian’s tenure, the school’s Academic Performance Index fell from 717 (23 points above average for Los Angeles Unified schools) to 689 (56 points below the average).

About Joanne


  1. Mark Roulo says:

    “Of 22 teachers at Weigand in Principal Cobian’s first year, 2009-10, 14 have left the school”


    Does anyone know what “typical” turnover over 3-4 years is for (a) public schools in general, (b) public schools with a new principal and (c) public schools with an academic performance index around 700?


    14 out of 22 seems high for only a few years, but maybe it isn’t?

    • CarolineSF says:

      Another gauge might be public schools with a certain percentage of students qualified for free/reduced-price lunch.

      Allen showed that Joanne’s post was meaningless without context.

      • Is that what my post showed? Well, thank you so much for bringing it to my attention.

        Now perhaps you could show me where I asked you to interpret my posts, or give them any convenient meaning you choose. There’s a good thing.

        By the way Caroline, why is it that California was the first state with parent trigger law? It’s not like those waskily Waltons and demonic Kochs have a lot of ideological brethren in the state government. The Democratic party has a lock on the legislature and has a lefty in the governor’s mansion so how is it that legislation like this got passed?

        • CarolineSF says:

          Dang that annoying free speech where I just get to say any old thing I please about someone’s public comments!

          Yes, that is what your post showed, Allen (that Parent Revolution’s claim and Joanne’s repeating it were meaningless — in fact, misleading — without context) — and it was enlightening and much appreciated.

          L.A. has been a hot spot for ed “reform” — I could speculate on a number of reasons why, but for whatever reason. And some of those “reformers” have been very skilled at attracting private “eduphilanthropy.” As I’m sure you know, the law barely squeaked through the legislature, and that wa s when it was carried by fake-liberal, actual darling of the right Gloria Romero. I’d say it was just a perfect storm.

          Why, are you trying to claim that the people behind Parent Revolution are truly liberal? No, their ideology is money. They claim to be whatever they’re paid to claim to be.

          • Oh, Caroline. Let me help you out.

            Parent trigger passed in California because there’s a not insignificant element on the left that, having to choose between the continued allegiance to the teacher’s unions or support for a rising tide of dissatisfaction and anger among the poor for the education system to which they’re required to serve up their children, has chosen the latter.

            Whether Gloria Romero’s a “fake” liberal is almost irrelevant since she’s just one state senator among thirty-nine and then there’s the state assembly which has eighty members. Both houses had to pass the legislation which suggest that there’s more then one “fake” liberal serving in the California state legislature.

            Now, how about you come up with some reasonable explanation for how parental trigger made it through both houses and got signed by the governor that’s a trifle more detailed then some hand-waving about a “perfect storm”?

  2. According to NCES the turnover’s 15.6% per year. At least that was the turnover in 2008-2009 – http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=28

    Given that figure a 64% turnover in three or four years doesn’t seem out of line.

  3. Mike in Texas says:

    Joanne needs to fix the link to the story.

    • Which link needs fixing?

      • Mike in Texas says:

        The ” “no confidence” in the principal,” link, it goes to gmail

        • That’s interesting. The link worked for me. Perhaps because it was my gmail? Anyhow, I’ve put it a conventional link. Thanks for pointing it out.

  4. CarolineSF says:

    So Allen, you’re trying to say that liberals support the parent trigger and hate teachers’ unions and teachers? Then what political stripe would you say opposes the parent trigger and supports teachers’ unions and teachers?

    • CarolineSF says:

      (I think “perfect storm” was more shorthand than “hand-waving,” whatever hand-waving means. Combination of factors, and do I have the time and energy to detail my view of them, and does anyone want to read them?)

    • If you’d read what I wrote instead of re-writing it to suit your inability to defend the public education system you’d have noticed that I wrote there’s a schism on the left over education.

      Some lefties, typified by yourself, are unwilling to part with the illusions of the past. Other lefties, typified by Democrats for Education Reform, and *their* like are no longer willing to turn a deaf ear to the complaints of the poor nor make excuses for the public education system that’s failed them.

      “Perfect storm” is a way avoid having to deal with the fact that the long-term partnership between the teacher’s unions and the Democratic party is unraveling.

      • CarolineSF says:

        I’m not unwilling to deal with that, Allen. I recognize that a lot of liberals/Democrats have joined the teacher-bashing, union-busting camp. I don’t LIKE it, but I’m not in denial about it. However, a number of these people (certainly including Romero and the alleged liberals in charge of Parent Revolution) claim to be what they’re paid to claim to be, as I say. Money is their sole ideology.

        • Of course you’re unwilling to deal with this defection. That’s why you have to coach the heresy in terms of a “teacher-bashing, union-busting camp” and imply the heretics are mercenaries.

          To do anything else would confer a legitimacy you’re incapable of accepting. So you create your various myths and then, eyes tightly shut, believe in them.

          But the truth, as I’ve written above, is much simpler and less amenable to misrepresentation – they, like the poor people they claim to champion, have grown tired of endless promises, endless demands and endless excuses.

          • CarolineSF says:

            Well, when Gloria Romero became the face of Prop. 32, which was openly aimed at eliminating labor’s political strength in California — that wasn’t just about education, and clarified the “mercenary” picture.

          • CarolineSF says:

            (I don’t imply they’re mercenaries. I flat-out say it.)

          • Still deflecting.

            Gloria Romero’s a single senator. You’re claiming that the only reason a lefty would vote for education reform is because they’re on some righties payroll. If that’s the case then nineteen state senators and twenty-one assemblymen are also on the payroll of those righties those being the majorities necessary to get a bill through the California legislature.

            Oh, and the governor as well.

            Must be some pretty strange righties to have that much of the California state government in their pocket but only direct them to vote on a single issue.


            A rather more believable scenario is that the left’s splitting along the lines of the issue of parental empowerment.

            Having looked at the statistics that illuminate widespread dissatisfaction with the education system by black voters some politicians, otherwise “left” to the core, have awoken to the realization that they’re putting their political careers at stake by aligning with the teacher’s unions and the public education status quo.

          • Richard Aubrey says:

            Here I thought the prin was a female version of Jaime Escalante combined with Mother Theresa.
            Oh, well. Can’t have everything.
            Can you call a pol who changes his voting in order to preserve his political career a “mercenary”?

          • Jaime Escalante was a teacher, not a principal. I think mean Joe Clark upon whom the movie Stand By Me was based. In either case, on the evidence she didn’t deliver and the forest shouldn’t be overshadowed by a couple of trees.

            The crucial fact in this story is that it was the action of the parents that precipitated the changes with the school board reacting to the parents to mitigate the damage to the school district. The parents hold the hammer and the school board’s acknowledging that fact.

            As for what labels are appropriate to apply to politicians and under what circumstances, that’s for you to decide. I’m indifferent. What’s important is the action taken and secondarily the reason.

            Caroline has to cling to the fairly absurd notion that parental trigger was passed in California due to the largess of the likes of Bill Gates although she doesn’t quite have the courage to come right and make the claim that half of both houses of the California legislature, along with the governor, were bought off.

            My view is that Democratic politicians are aware of the anger of black voters with the public education system and some percentage of those politicians have decided to throw in with their constituents ignoring the threats and promises of the teacher’s unions.

            The widespread, and spreading, nature of the public education reform movement suggest I’m right and Caroline is wrong unless you’re willing to believe that Bill Gates et al can by off politicians not just in California but all across the U.S.

          • Roger Sweeny says:


            I disagreed with allen following Wednesday’s parent trigger post (“‘Trigger’ parents fire principal: Unfair? Satanic?”) but I have to disagree with you here. To say that a major reason many Democrats disagree with you on education is that they have been bought by right wing money–to say that is silly and cowardly. It frees you from deep thinking. The major reasons are deeper than that.

            One reason is ironic. For years, Democrats (and lots of Republicans) have said that schools can accomplish great things. A good teacher can teach anyone. Well, as long as the student doesn’t have severe mental or emotional problems, and the teacher knows her subject matter. Good teacher was generally defined in terms of courses and degrees. She had a college degree and had taken many education courses. Preferably, she had a Masters in Education. As long as her school was adequately funded, things should be great.

            But after years of spending more and improving the “training” of teachers, there were still high schools (mostly in poor areas) where less than half the entering freshmen graduated, and various studies suggested that even many graduates were semi-literate and lacking in basic subject matter knowledge.

            If good teachers mean student achievement and student achievement is disappointing, then the easy conclusion is that there are a lot of bad teachers. Not that they’re bad people (no Democrat wants to “teacher bash”) but they are stuck in a system that does not adequately reward good teachers and fix (or fire) bad teachers.

            I think you and I may agree that we expect too much from teachers. And that we expect too much from schools. Schools can only do so much, and that “so much” often isn’t a whole lot. For many, this is a deeply depressing thought. Much easier to keep to the faith in schooling and push for change in teacher evaluation and compensation systems.

          • Roger Sweeny says:

            But that is perhaps not the most important reason. In the United States, it is legally and socially acceptable to discriminate against someone because he has less schooling than someone else. Though most Democrats consciously dislike inequality, they are fine with more schooling meaning more income. In fact, most would think that the opposite would be unfair. “A janitor making more than a teacher? That’s not right!” More schooling is a major way many justify their own incomes.

            Throughout history, kids from wealthy families have generally done better in school than people from poor families. Yet Americans like to think that we have an educational system that lifts poor people up–and there are lots of stories of poor immigrant kids or kids of janitors who did well in school and became doctors or lawyers or successful business people. However, they are statistical exceptions. On average, kids from poorer backgrounds do much worse than people from richer backgrounds. To the extent that the system rewards school success with economic success, it screws poor people.

            So the question that deep down haunts many Democrats is whether the school system can be reformed to be a engine of mobility rather than a reinforcer of inequality. Since it is an article of faith among Democrats (and a lot of Republicans) that teachers are very, very important, the way out must be to change teachers, which to many “reformers” today means how teachers are evaluated and compensated. One of those “reformers” is that well-known non-right-winger Barack Obama

            The alternative would be to say that the well-schooled (who are well-represented in the Democratic Party) are well-off because of a system that screws the poor. And that schooling should be de-emphasized to have a more just America. I don’t see many people willing to make that leap–though perhaps you would.

          • CarolineSF says:

            Widespread belief among people on both political sides is that at least some CA legislators voted for the PT in the hope that it would support the state’s Race to the Top application, though that didn’t work. I can’t speak for all legislators. I think some lefty/liberals support the PT and other “reform” scams because they’re low-information and gullible, and fall for the BS.

            Other supposed liberals, like Parent Revolution’s Ben Austin and Gloria Romero, are merely for sale to the highest bidder and pose as liberals as a way to con others. If teachers’ unions or Occupy Wall Street came up with more money for them to play another part, they’d do it. Romero took the mask off when she fronted for Prop. 32 and is now universally known as a conservative. Austin is still playing his role.

          • Richard Aubrey says:

            Wrt inequality: We have a chicken-egg problem. Some say genetics, others culture. Maybe both.
            We’ve been playing some simple arithmetic games with our granddaughter since she was maybe four. But she’s also extraordinarily bright. So if she does well, it might be because of upbringing, genetics, or the fact that she’s going into a school system in an upscale city. For example, to get into kindergarten, the kids have to attend a two-hour session at something called, iirc, Safety town. Five days a week. Two weeks.
            Yeah, it’s a good system, but when my DIL student-taught Life Skills, she got blank looks on budgeting when the girls had $500 monthly clothing allowance.
            Untangling…. Luck with that.
            Tough to untangle those, and tougher to untangle the analogous factors on the other end.

          • “Widespread belief among people on both political sides is that at least some CA legislators voted for the PT in the hope that it would support the state’s Race to the Top application, though that didn’t work.”

            Now that is funny.

            RTTT had specific requirements. *Not* among those requirements was parent trigger so either those California legislators were so contrary that they were willing to do what wasn’t required – and not willing to do what *was* required – or parent trigger has an entirely separate genesis.

            Oh yeah, there is no “widespread belief”. You just don’t have enough confidence in this red herring to lay claim to it.

            By the way, Race to the Top was passed in 2009. Looks like maybe there are lefties at the federal level who are just as stupid, or mercenary, as the California legislators who passed parent trigger if parting ways with the public education status quo is the yardstick by which intelligence and honesty are measured.

            And just to drive a stake through the heart of your silly justifications for the passage of parent trigger, there’s little to no chance it’ll be repealed or significantly watered down. It’s been the law for four years and has weathered every attempt to vitiate it. Apparently whatever senator Romero put in the water system of the California state legislature is still having it’s baleful effect rendering the legislature stupid and mercenary.

            Or, rather more believably, the polls still indicate that there’s widespread support for substantive reform of the public education system. Significantly, that support is strongest among black voters without whom the Democratic party couldn’t hold onto the California legislature much less remain a significant power nationally.

            I think that’s a rather better reason for the passage of parent trigger then that the legislature got and stayed stupid.

          • Richard Aubrey says:

            Although it should be said that presuming a legislature is stupid–particularly CA’s–is the way to bet.
            I gather that, with the current rate of surplus, they’ll have their debt paid off in probably no more than 700 years.

          • Roger Sweeny says:

            Yeah, this is kind of unusual: CarolineSF saying that people in the “public” and non-profit sectors are motivated by greed, and allen saying that they are motivated by the public interest.

          • Sorry Richard but H.L. Mencken’s already made a career out of cynicism and all who now follow his well-trodden path of intellectual laziness in nothing more then self-gratification which, like all other forms of self-gratification, holds little entertainment value for on-lookers.

            The California legislature is representative of the voters of the state which means it’s no more smart or stupid then the voters the elected representatives represent. In some cases that means being so upset by reality that the voters of California, via their elected representatives, decide to defy reality and invite it to do its worst. Reality always obliges and pedagogical benefits result if we survive.

            In other cases, and for reasons not at all clear to me, the voters of California, and other states, come to terms with reality and the resulting legislation reflects that fact.

            I’m of the opinion that the rising tide of reform of the public education system, nation wide, is a result of a coming to terms with the failure of the public education system.

            We tried it. We threw vast resources at it. We gave it extraordinary authority and in the end what we got was disappointment.

            So we’re collectively giving up the pleasing fantasy that if we hand over a great deal of authority and a great deal in the way of resources to people who assure us that they’re experts a nerve-wracking but necessary responsibility will be lifted off our shoulders.

            Parent trigger’s just one pebble in the swelling avalanche of that society-wide decision to return the responsibility for educating the next generation to its rightful and proper executer.

          • Richard Aubrey says:

            Sometimes a politician, to do the right thing, has to risk annoying a potentially-valuable voting bloc, iow his career.
            Thus, when a legislature is stupid, it’s because a politically useful combination of voters is stupid.
            That’s the way it’s supposed to be. But when you have major power brokers–the prison guards’ union, ex.–the pols have to be even stupider.
            At this point, and for a period to be determined, a politically useful combination of voters seems to want a fix in the schools.
            Let’s presume they win practically all they want. Once those reforms are in place and no longer have to be fought for, become part of the background noise as it were, the combination will dissolve. Won’t be necessary.
            Mencken didn’t invent cynicism, and reminding people of some ground facts is not entirely a matter of self-gratification.
            If you stop thinking legislatures want to do the right thing, you are better prepared to figure out how to get them to do it anyway.

          • Yeah, although doing the right thing isn’t necessarily as obvious as those who aren’t at the point of the spear seem to believe. Then there’s the occasional conflict between “the right thing” and representing your constituents.

            Is it ethically proper for someone who’s supposed to be representing the people who elected them to dispense with that representation supplanting it with the politician’s own elevated moral sensibilities? Sometimes yeah but not nearly as often as those who promiscuously invoke their own moral perfection as the justification for a policy desperately wish to believe.

            But I digress.

            “Stupid” is the prescription of the intellectually lazy. Worse, the subtext to the epithet is that its user is smart and that being smart, and smarter then those with whom they disagree, justifies their ideas with no further inspection or proof necessary. In fact a desire for proof is, in itself, evidence of stupidity.

            That’s why I’m dismissive of Caroline’s charge that stupidity was one of the reasons for passage of parental trigger.

            As for Mencken, and Twain unfortunately, cynicism’s the means by which they invited their readers to feel the smug satisfaction of intellectual, or moral, superiority without effort or risk. Been there. Done that. Isn’t worth a bucket of warm piss.

            The way to get legislatures to do anything is to build constituencies that are politically potent. Determining right and wrong isn’t, sadly, quite as easy cynics prefer to believe.

  5. CarolineSF says:

    Well, here’s the Heartland Institute (which I think I’m safe in saying is far more Allen’s philosophical soulmate than mine) saying that the California Legislature passed the Parent Trigger as part of an effort to snare Race to the Top funds. The rest of this post is copy/pasted from the Heartland Institute material.

    The Parent Trigger is an innovation in education reform passed into law in California in 2010 and several states thereafter. Briefly put, if half the parents whose children attend a failing public school sign a petition requesting reform of the school, the school must either shut down, become a charter school, or undergo one of two other types of reform.

    The Parent Trigger concept is the creation of the Los Angeles Parents Union, a group of self-described progressives led by Ben Austin, a Democrat whose previous employers include President Bill Clinton, Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, and Hollywood director-turned-political-activist Rob Reiner. Austin was also a consultant to Green Dot Charter Schools, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit charter school chain that has taken over several failed public schools, including the notorious Locke High School in South Los Angeles, near Watts. In March 2010, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) appointed Austin to a four-year term on the state’s 11-member board of education.

    The Parent Trigger passed by just one vote in the California Senate and one vote in the Assembly. Schwarzenegger signed it into law on January 7, 2010 as part of a package of special legislation designed to improve California’s prospects in the first round of the federal Race to the Top grant competition.

    While California didn’t make the cut in Race to the Top, the Parent Trigger is currently the law in the Golden State.


  6. CarolineSF says:

    Certainly I think many people in the nonprofit sector are motivated by greed, and having followed the education “reform” sector closely for years, of course I know it’s motivated by greed. Anybody who thinks otherwise is too naive to be allowed out of the house without a babysitter.

    As education “reformers” and those who run projects for them, speak for them, blog for them, run slanted so-called “studies” for them, loll around in cushy think-tank posts for them and so forth show us daily, it’s possible to live very large with a nonprofit. “Nonprofit” just means it doesn’t have owners or shareholders who distribute the profits.

    As for public employees, in this case I’m talking about legislators. Gosh, who would ever think they were influenced by money in any way? I’m shocked — shocked.

    • Gee, I’m sorry Caroline but an unsupported assertion in Heartland Institute’s website gets no more credence from me then an unsupported assertion at the Daily Kos. When I see some quotes from the bill’s sponsors stating that RTTT money was the motivating force I’ll “hmmm, imagine that” and move on.

      The basic fact, and the one the Heartland piece covers in some detail, is that parent trigger was very much, if not entirely, a creation of the left. Parent trigger’s a prime example of the split that’s troubling the left and I think it’s destined to become a lot worse; all those poor, black parents who line up to get their kids into charters are going to exert a gravitational effect on the likes of, oh, Rob Reiner and Davis Guggenheim, dyed in the wool lefties whose lefty credentials are impeccable. They are utterly untroubled by your name-calling and I expect will remain that way.