A Parent Revolution brewing in LA

Great summary of new choice policy in this EdWeek blog.  Here’s a portion:

In what may be a first-of-its-kind reform, the nation’s second-largest school district is about to empower parents to force the overhaul of their children’s chronically underperforming schools.

In regulations crafted by Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines and his team to guide the district’s new school choice policy, parents with children in a school that has been in California’s “program improvement” status for three or more years can “trigger” the process to open the school up to outside managers if a simple majority of them sign a petition.

Talk about a public option!

What may be even more remarkable is that prospective parents, or those whose children are eligible to attend the failing school by virtue of living in its attendance zone, can also trigger this action by the same means: collecting signatures that total 50 percent plus one of the parents with children who attend the feeder campuses for the troubled school.

Sounds interesting, innovative, and fraught with controversy, doesn’t it?

Ben Austin, the executive director of the Parent Revolution, calls the provision a “new, 21st-century paradigm for education reform.”

But will the parental power be real? Austin says absolutely. “This is not a recommendation; this is not advisory,” he said. “If parents use the trigger, the district has to start the process of finding and selecting a new operator for the school.”

Between RttT & SIG, there are billions headed toward urban districts for transformations, turnarounds and restarts….but there’s little support for disruptive reforms.  That’s why Parent Revolution is so important.  We need to get it right in LA and scale it to Houston, Chicago, DC–anywhere there is the charter capacity to fulfill the promise: if 51% of parents sign on, things will be different and better for kids.

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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