First published on @TCFKSM on June 2, 2013
"The 'parent trigger' by definition is a hostile act. It creates division and conflict. It sets parents against parents. It sets parents against teachers. It sets parents against administrators. It is a "trigger" and triggers kill." — Professor Diane Ravitch
Parent Revolution, the well funded neoliberal operatives in charge of achieving reactionary Andy Smarick's dream of replacing public schools with a privatized system, has been experiencing a little blow back from their recent corporate drive by. In addition to the news of protests against the Weigand trigger pull and another Tea Party group joining forces with Parent Revolution, there has been some interesting criticisms from expected, and unexpected venues.
Even the biggest privatization cheerleaders—the Los Angeles Times—have recently expressed concerns with the anti-democratic trigger process in their The 'parent trigger' trap. Refreshingly, they've even been covering the grassroots resistance to Walton Foundation's Parent Pinkertons. An example is Teresa Watanabe's Watts teachers urge public notice for parent trigger campaignsA surprising source of criticism of both Austin and the so-called Parent Revolution is that bastion of the Nonprofit Industrial Complex (NPIC), the Nonprofit Quarterly (NPQ). In a surprisingly well reasoned piece excoriating the process, the author makes a profound and powerful statement.
Something doesn't add up. Cobian hardly seems like the ogre or incompetent that Austin describes. But Cobian is the first administrator ousted from the Los Angeles public schools under the trigger law. It feels like Parent Revolution was flexing its muscle and putting teachers and administrators on notice. The result seems certain to demoralize teachers far beyond the Weigand Avenue Elementary campus. A button on the webpage of Parent Revolution is, "we <3 our teachers." The Weigand Avenue Elementary School teachers clearly don't feel "<3'ed".
I'm sitting in an emergency UTLA meeting called in response to these hostile take-overs as I'm writting this. While listening to a dozen Weigand parents and teachers speaking effusively about their principal, NPQ's statement that "Cobian hardly seems like the ogre or incompetent that Austin describes" rings all too true. Hearing various educators from school sites current threatened by Wasserman Foundation funded Parent Revolution school terrorists is heartbreaking and reminds me why I've opposed these poverty pimps for so many years.
4LAKids' Scott Folsom sometimes takes somewhat conservative positions on education issues. However, on Parent Trigger he has always been right on the mark. Here is his take on the Weigand situation published in his weekly email digest.
In the San Fernando Valley at Arleta High School (one of the new ones) the principal is retiring in glory having done everything right and having produced the desired results. At Weigand Avenue Elementary School in Watts a principal is booted out, apparently having done nothing wrong save losing a petition-drive popularity contest – courtesy of the Parent Trigger ["Watts teachers urge public notice for parent trigger campaigns"] – with the Board of Ed and Superintendent hiding behind “Our hands are tied, The Law’s the Law!”. As Parent Revolutionary-in-Chief Ben Austin wrote the Parent Trigger Law. As an appointed member of the State Board of Education Ben Austin promoted the Parent Trigger Law – and lobbied for it in the legislature. Now back at P-Rev Ben Austin applies the law…or maybe IS the law! Austin likes to say that the Parent Trigger Law empowers parents – but in reality it empowers Ben Austin – who has been intimately involved in every application of it – welcoming himself to LAUSD as our liberator.
Professor Diane Ravitch has been covering the Weigand tragedy from the get go. Articles like "Parent Trigger" Sets Parents Against Parents in Los Angeles really gets to the heart of the matter. Sherman Dorn's "Parent trigger" as a pale shadow of community involvement is also recommended reading.
I want to close with an expanded version Caroline Grannan's tweet over the weekend. "Parent Revolution - a history of attacking teachers. Ben Austin's awkward made-up story about teachers torturing kids - appalling." The lie laden story she's referring too is the interview Austin did with the arch-reactionaries at ChoiceMedia.TV Austin's mendacious fabrication is disgusting in that he would stoop to such a level, but it's also racist in that he's referring to teachers of color at Compton's McKinley ES. Austin's outrageous lie was carried over to a scene in Philip Anschutz, Bill Gates, and Rupert Murdoch's "Won't Back Down" film. H/T to Jack for reminding everyone of this horrible false narrative.