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I was blessed to go to great schools with great teachers. I’m convinced that a big part of why the schools performed so well was that the parents demanded it (especially at my private school where the parents were truly customers). Unfortunately, many of our country’s schools are underperforming, and often the parents of children at those schools are unable to hold the administration and teachers accountable. Parent Revolution is a Los Angeles, CA based non-profit that is aiming to change that. They want to “transform public education based on what is good for children, not adults, by empowering parents to transform their under-performing schools through community organizing.” That obviously sounds great, but it comes with a ton of controversy.
It’s nearly impossible to understand what Parent Revolution does without first reading up on parent trigger laws (I recommend the Wikipedia article). It’s essentially a way for parents to change the way a school is run by forming a group of parents that constitutes more than 50% of the school’s parents. These “parents unions” can then transform in four ways. They can:
- Convert the school into a charter
- Replace the old staff and make budget decisions
- Dismiss the principal
- Dissolve the school and relocate the students to other schools
Parent Revolution advocates for these laws (here’s their agenda), while teachers unions typically oppose them, often vehemently (here’s a post on the California Teacher’s Association Blog about Parent Revolution). Much of the criticism is centered around Parent Revolution’s funding sources–they get money from the Gates Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, the Emerson Collective Education Fund (founded by Laurence Powell Jobs, the wife of Steve Jobs), and quite a few other foundations. The claim is either that these foundations have an anti-union agenda, or that they are working to line the pockets of friends who are in the for-profit charter school industry. As a result of the controversy, both of Parent Revolution’s “successes” have ended up stymied by the courts. This is an extremely nuanced issue, and I highly recommend that you do a lot of reading on the topic to formulate your own opinion. If you want to join Parent Revolution in pushing for more parent trigger laws and getting parents to take control of their school, take a look at the organization’s Jobs page. Right now they’re looking for a Research Assistant and Organizers. Both positions look like they could be great fits for new or recent grads.
Links to Help You Begin Your Research
What have you heard about Parent Revolution?
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