"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

School Reformers "Won't Back Down"

"Waiting For Superman", the union-bashing pubic school busting movie funded by Bill Gates, the progressive-leaning Participant Media and Walden Media, which is funded by billionaire, Philip Anschutz, failed in its attempt to pave the way for charter schools across the nation. On August 14th Walden Media will try again with their latest movie, "Won't Back Down," loosely based on real events.

The movie showcases Maggie Gyllenhaal as a working-class single mother outraged by conditions at her daughter’s Pittsburgh elementary school. Oscar nominee Viola Davis plays the educator willing to risk the backlash of the system in order to improve the education of the students. Holly Hunter is cast as the villainous teachers’ union rep who tries to thwart the efforts of Davis and Gyllenhaal under the guise of protecting the union.

The reformers are getting smarter.  They have enlisted the help of Hollywood and the music business to promote the movie and its policy of parent triggers and charter schools. On August 14th Ken Ehrlich Productions, Anschutz Film Group/Walden Media, and AEG will present TEACHERS ROCK live in Los Angeles which will feature appearances from stars like:

Dave Grohl – Foo Fighters
Adam Levine – Maroon 5 singer
Jack Black
Meryl Streep
Viola Davis
Morgan Freeman
Josh Groban
Josh Hutcherson
Miranda Cosgrove
Pauley Perrette
Roshon Fegan 
Dierks Bentle - Fun
LL Cool J
Maggie Gyllenhaal
Carrie Underwood
Garth Brooks

Parent Trigger Laws, currently in 4 states (not Missouri, yet), were first dreamed up by Democratic activist and former Clinton White House staffer Ben Austin. Such laws would theoretically allow dissatisfied parents to demand changes at their kids' schools — including a total takeover by a charter business— if a majority sign on. That is how they should work theoretically, but in California, who has had them on the books the longest (2010), the changes triggered by parents have never actually happened.  The Compton school district fought back against a parent trigger and took the case to court.  The trigger pulled in Adelanto, northeast of Los Angeles, also went to San Bernardino Superior Court where the judge recently sided with parents in  who want to take over an elementary school and convert it into a charter. The district’s school board was reported to be considering an appeal.

Trigger laws offer low-income parents the opportunity to send their child to any school, effectively desegregating the system. One parent from the San Fransisco Bay Area interviewed by USA today characterized what the parent trigger laws do in the real world, "It really is generally about just changing the population of the school so that it's no longer overwhelmed by such a huge number of high-need kids."

A bid to introduce a parent trigger in Florida failed last March after the Florida PTA, League of Women Voters and other groups opposed it. Caroline Grannan, a San Francisco public school parent and a founding member of Parents Across America, a union-backed group, said parent trigger laws are a "destructive idea" that amounts to little more than a misguided populist bid to privatize public education. "It's an illusion that sounds good on paper, even if it was created in sincerity, which I don't believe it was," Grannan said.  [USAToday]
Maybe we need say no more about the film than the fact that Michelle Rhee is praising it.  The film attempts a more nuanced look at the debate about parent triggers and privatization than Superman did. In real life, there are no totally good guys or totally bad guys. In real life the teachers are not part of any of the parent trigger legislation either, but they are in the film and the viewer gets to watch them wrestle with the often conflicting role of the union and the need for change.

CBS will rebroadcast the Teachers Rock event on August 17th which means it will get a very wide audience.  The charity event will benefit three organizations:

DonorsChoose.org which connects donors with schools to donate supplies. This is your teacher's giving tree on a national scale.

Feeding America a domestic hunger relief charity which distributes over 3 billion pounds of food each year to its network of food banks.

Teach For America which is in both a lot of the failing school districts trying to turn them around and in the charter schools.

Diane Ravitch wrote on her blog of the Teachers Rock event which is being promoted as a way to honor teachers and the work they do in our public schools. "Strange way to 'honor' teachers–by firing them and giving the school to a non-union private entity to manage, which may hire only young teachers willing to work a 50-60 hour week at low wages. More 'honors' like this and there won’t be a teaching profession in America, just teaching temps."

A protest to this movement is being started asking people to wear Red for Public Education on August 14th and promote the reasons why you oppose parent trigger legislation in the social and mass media.


  1. The Compton court case, as I understand it, was over the petition. Some parents felt misled and signed without clear understanding. They wanted to remove their signatures. That brought the court complaint by the Parent Trigger advocates. The court held that once signed, the signature sticks.

    In Florida, the Parent Trigger bill failed in 2012, but was heavily supported by former Governor Jeb Bush. There is no doubt that the bill will return in the upcoming session.

  2. I have added at least 3 comments recently, and none have been approved
    Why not?
    Were they all glitches?

  3. Patriotsoul - yes must be glitched because none were found awaiting moderation.


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