Wednesday, January 16, 2013


24th Street Elementary School the target of new parent petition

By Brandon Lowrey, from the Huffington Post |

photo  from LA School Report

1/15/2013 10:27 pm EST  :: LOS ANGELES, Jan 15 (Reuters) - Parents at an underperforming Los Angeles elementary school are seeking to wrest control from the nation's second-largest school system a week after parents in a rural California community made history by taking over a failing school there.

Supporters of the latest effort at the 24th Street Elementary School will deliver signed petitions invoking the state's controversial "parent trigger" law on Thursday to the Los Angeles Unified School District headquarters, activists said.

"The parents have been trying to change conditions there for at least the past four years," said David Phelps, a spokesman for Parent Revolution, which has been working with the parents to organize the campaign. "It's time for that to happen."

The move represents a repudiation of the largest school district in a state that in 2010 became the first to pass a trigger law, letting parents of students in failing schools band together to force sweeping change: They can fire teachers, oust administrators or turn the school over to private management.

from flickr

24th St Elementary School is at 2055 W 24TH ST, LOS ANGELES, CA 90018
essentially @ the Intersection of Western Ave and the Santa Monica (10) Freeway.

It is in the Superintendent’s Special Service District.

Marguerite LaMotte is the school board member

It also follows a decision last week by a school board in Adelanto, some 60 miles (97 km) northeast of Los Angeles, to transform its struggling Desert Trails Elementary School into a privately managed charter after losing a court battle with parents.

Critics of the parent trigger law say it can divide communities and lead to the privatization of public schools, while proponents say it empowers parents to improve their children's educational opportunities.

Other states, including Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Connecticut, Indiana and Ohio, have since passed similar laws, while other states debate them.

John Rogers, who heads UCLA's Institute for Democracy, Education and Access, said that while takeovers could be seen as attractive to frustrated parents, such moves would not necessarily fix problems such as poor funding and overcrowding.

"Quality public schools emerge from sustained efforts where parents are working in collaboration with teachers," he said.


Parent Revolution, which organized the Adelanto takeover, said it was taking aim at the 24th Street school because it has ranked among the bottom of California schools for years. Phelps did not say precisely how much control parents wanted to assert or whether they sought to turn it into a charter.

As in Adelanto, the 24th Street school serves a mostly low-income and minority population and fell short of meeting the state's educational standards in English and mathematics.

Los Angeles school district officials declined to comment on the pending petition.

"At a time where parents and teachers and administrators need to be working together to actually solve these problems, this moves in the absolute opposite direction," said Joshua Pechthalt, president of the California Federation of Teachers union, which is opposed to the parent trigger law.

Under California's parent trigger law, which applies to schools that have performed poorly for at least three years, parents can petition for change if they gather signatures of parents representing half the school's students.

Amabilia Villeda, 41, of Los Angeles, has had three children attend 24th Street Elementary and said her oldest daughter, now in eighth grade, left the school unable to read.

"The teachers at her new school started calling me because my daughter wasn't performing and she couldn't read anything," Villeda said through a Spanish translator, adding that she hoped the petition would force the district to improve the school.

In Adelanto, interim superintendent Richard Bray sounded a word of caution, saying the parent trigger petitions interrupted the district's plan to improve Desert Trails, including replacing the principal and support staff. (Reporting by Brandon Lowrey; Editing by Cynthia Johnston, Steve Gorman and Lisa Shumaker)


Parent Trigger Coming to LAUSD

by Hillel Aron in LA School Report |

January 14, 2013 LA School Report has learned that parents at 24th Street Elementary School, in concert with Parent Revolution, have been gathering signatures for a so-called “parent trigger” petition to revamp the struggling school and plan on delivering it to LAUSD offices this week.

Mayor Villaraigosa is a vocal proponent of the parent trigger, along with a handful of other big-city mayors.  Teachers unions including UTLA are deeply opposed.  It is unclear what positions LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy, the Board, and Board candidates will take on the controversial issue, or whether parents at other LAUSD schools will pursue this option.

In 2010, the California legislature passed a law, introduced by then-assembly speaker Gloria Romero (and passed by a single vote in the House and Senate), granting parents the right to replace the administration or turn the school into a charter or even simply dissolve the school and relocating the students.

The first attempt to use the trigger law was at McKinley Elementary in nearby Compton, where parents successfully gathered enough signatures only to have their effort blocked by Compton Unified. The second effort, at Desert Trails Elementary, was just last week approved by the local school board after an 18-month court battle. (see: High desert charter school first success for parent trigger law).

Parents and activists have been working since mid-November and they now believe they have signatures from at least 60% of all parents in 24th St. Elementary, located in a neighborhood sometimes called Jefferson Park. Out of 5,186 elementary schools in California, the school ranks 5,096th in standardized test scores. Among elementary schools, it has one of the highest suspension rates in the district.  (Interestingly, 24th St. Elementary is a candidate for Public Choice 4.0.)

If successful, this would be the first use of the parent trigger within LA Unified. Even though the process has never been tried in LAUSD before, the district actually passed a parent trigger law before the state did.

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