Parent Revolution needs to stop lying about the California Teachers Association. Over the past several days that organization has, predictably, sent out attacks blaming CTA for their failure to reach the parent majority signature threshold needed to invoke California’s new parent trigger law at Desert Trails Elementary, a struggling school in the Southern California desert community of Adelanto. Because what’s been happening in Adelanto has been a local, parent-driven effort, CTA has made every effort to take the high road, to ignore Parent Revolution’s ridiculous attacks on us, and to steer media focus back to Adelanto, the chaotic parent trigger law, and to the concerned parents and educators grappling width important issues there. But as Parent Revolution continues to lie and overstate our role, and to use press releases to forward false allegations, we’d like to set the record straight.CTA’s role in Adelanto
Here are the facts: Our local affiliate, the Adelanto District Teachers Association (ADTA), has one CTA staff person who lives in the high desert community, and who works width ADTA and width many other CTA affiliate chapters in the area on a myriad of issues like contract negotiations, professional development, grievance processing, building strong community relations, and general problem solving. After the parent trigger was pulled at Desert Trails, school parents who opposed the petition (some of whom had not even been approached to sign or given an opportunity to voice their opinion), asked to meet width ADTA to discuss ways to redress the situation, if possible. Having been more or less blindsided and not included in the trigger effort discussions, and hearing different things from different parents about what the petition actually meant, they sought discussion width ADTA in development of a parent-led effort to have conversations and clarify what petition signers had been told, to provide forums for open discussion, and to allow people to state for the record their experience if in fact petitioners had not followed the process correctly.
The CTA local staff person, who, again, is not
assigned full time to Adelanto, invited colleagues width additional expertise in charter school law and bilingual community outreach to provide Spanish language translation help and to provide explanations of the parent trigger and charter school laws. Those two CTA staff members were in Adelanto on a very intermittent basis. Other local high desert teachers who live near Desert Trails were invited in to assist parents. Area teachers who could provide insight into local reform efforts that were improving achievement at schools in surrounding districts also offered assistance. All of this was a back seat to and in support of the local, parent-led effort to get the truth out.Lies, lies, and darned lies
Yet Parent Revolution continues to send out breathless press releases and fabricate or hallucinate “cadres of CTA operatives flown in from Sacramento
,” when there is absolutely no truth to this. Their Executive Director, Mr. Ben Austin, is simply making things up. And while making these utterly false (and mostly irrelevant) charges, Mr. Austin never mentions the fact that Parent Revolution has had a paid, full-time organizer and additional help in Adelanto, and that they paid to rent a house up there as a headquarters (where it’s reported they held a hastily arranged “parent movie night” to conflict width a scheduled open parent forum organized by anti-trigger parents).
More offensive than grossly inflating any CTA involvement in Adelanto, is Parent Revolution’s perpetuation through pro-trigger bloggers at the LA Weekly and the Wall Street Journal the insinuation that we’re somehow connected to alleged strong-arm tactics that include deportation threats. This loathsome smear runs counter to virtually every human rights position CTA holds dear. In fact, after CTA alerted a Washington Post reporter to upcoming parent forums in Adelanto and suggested she attend, we then actually respectfully retracted the invitation to one scheduled for Spanish language speaking parents when some expressed concern for their privacy because of their immigration status (that reporter did attend another English language parent forum the next day).Compton: The Trigger That Mysteriously Disappeared
This is not the first time Parent Revolution has come out swinging width a sledgehammer of lies or misdirection. After parents (including the school PTA president) at McKinley Elementary school in Compton accused Parent Revolution of misrepresentation
and stories of harassment by organizers began to emerge in the press, they launched highly publicized and vicious attacks against the McKinley school staff accusing them of the same tactics and, sadly, many news outlets bought into it and stopped paying attention to early complaints about Parent Revolution’s heavy-handed signature gathering. Parent Revolution even tried to crush individual teachers by encouraging and publicizing frivolous complaints of federal civil rights violations against them. Has Parent Revolution yet apologized to the teachers involved? And why have they purged virtually every blog
posted to their website between December2010 and August 2011? Are they trying to make their showcase “historic first” in Compton and all their over-the-top attacks disappear?
Given the large numbers of signature rescissions in Adelanto, to believe Parent Revolution’s current story, you’d have believe that dozens of parents were misled, harassed, or intimidated into filling out rescission forms on which they stated they had been, misled, harassed, or intimidated.
Parent Revolution has no experience in education reform and no track record of improving student achievement anywhere. They believe the Parent Trigger is a magic bullet and therefore it is the only bullet (other than grossly over the top and deceptive public relations campaigns) in their arsenal.
If the parent trigger is a flawed law on paper, so far it’s been an unmitigated disaster in practice. It encourages division and pits parents against parents in what can escalate into a bitter political-style campaign instead of an informed discussion or debate about improving things for kids. It excludes up to 49% of parents from even being notified of what’s happening at their child’s school. It excludes virtually every parent who did not sign a trigger petition (either by choice or by not being asked) from participation in further crucial decisions about the school once the trigger is pulled. And Parent Revolution’s scorched-earth, win-at-all-costs approach makes any meaningful and inclusive discussion about how to improve things for children at the school secondary to “winning” a petition victory.
CTA would like to shift the focus of this story back to the flawed trigger law, and to Adelanto and the parents, teachers, and students grappling width real reform issues there, but Parent Revolution wants to continue to make this somehow about us. Instead of making up stories about planes and phantom cadres of “operatives”, they should deal width the real questions that deserve answers.
- Were Adelanto parents fully informed?
- Was an attempt made to have as many parents as possible involved or were some excluded?
- Was signature gathering done in an open atmosphere where all school reform options were on the table, and where new school leadership had an opportunity to ensure parents were aware of current efforts to improve student achievement?
- And, given the huge numbers of rescissions and petition errors, is this really what a true majority of Desert Trails parents wants?
Parent Revolution has falsely accused CTA of lies, breaking the law, strong-arm tactics, and creating division. Instead of attacking us, they should stop lying, answer the above questions, and stop projecting their own tactics and behavior on others at the expense of students and communities.
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