Sunday, September 16, 2012

Op-Ed proposal the L.A. Times would not print

The following is an OP-Ed proposal the L.A. Times would not print.  

There is no such thing as a free lunch.  That is one of the first lessons I teach my students in economics.  I realize the statement identifies me as a teacher and to some that is somehow tantamount to confessing that I am a villain. That is unfair because I love teaching.  I am also the Board President of the Adelanto School District– the first district (albeit by court order) to accept a Parent-Trigger petition.  This article is to clear some of the misperceptions surrounding that event.  And that brings me back to the lack of free lunches.

A true story illustrates this point.  A few years back, I was in line at a gas station store for a cup of coffee.  Ahead of me was man in a hurry and not in the best of moods.  He paid for his coffee, but did not grab the complimentary newspaper that went with it.  The attendant called out to him. “Hey, you forgot your free newspaper!” The man turned around.  “Can anyone walk in here and grab a newspaper,” he asked.  The answer was no. You had to buy a cup of coffee first.   “Then it’s not free,” he concluded.

Another true story that illustrates this point is Parent Revolution’s involvement in the Desert Trails’ Parent-Trigger petition.  Parent Revolution is the corporation behind the Parent Trigger law.  Their expert advice and related professional services may be called “Pro Bono”, but it is not free.  They have an agenda that must be satisfied. 

The Parent-Trigger Law allows parents of underperforming schools to circulate a petition that will force the implementation of one out of several federal school interventions.  Restarting a school as a charter is one of the options.  The parents of Desert Trails Elementary School have said from the start that they did not want a charter.  They wanted reforms.  Parent Revolution, however, devised a two-petition strategy that had parents sign two different petitions.  The first petition was described as wanting reforms that included changes to the teacher collective bargaining agreement, curriculum, and professional development.  Absolutely nothing that is not up for negotiation or review periodically anyway.  The second petition was for a charter.  The purpose of the second petition was to strategically intimidate the district into taking the first petition seriously.  At least that is how it was described. Interestingly, it was the second petition for a charter that was actually submitted. 

Many parents representing almost 100 students wanted to take back their signatures.  They did not want a charter.  They felt misled or confused by the signature gathering process.  The school board honored the requests of these parents and did not include them in the petition count.  This brought the number of signatures below the required amount to make the petition valid.  Parent Revolution backed the lawsuit against the district that had this decision reversed.  The judge in this case ruled that the school board was prohibited from allowing parents to change their minds. 

In the meanwhile, the district had been working with the community to bring reforms to the school.  The reforms include adding instructional minutes to the school day, a new curriculum, staff development, an infusion of technology, a memorandum of understanding with the teacher union, signed pledges by teachers to support these reforms, a school site coach to support the reforms, an elected council to oversee the reforms, and of course, an excellent principal to make it happen.  In short, what the parents wanted. 

The school board complied with the judge’s order and accepted the petition. The board also concluded that it was not possible to implement a charter for this school year.  The board, as allowed under the Parent-Trigger law, chose another intervention that supported the reforms instead.  A charter school option for next school year as sought by Parent Revolution would undermine the efforts of improving the school THIS YEAR.  Parent Revolution backed another lawsuit against the district anyway.

It is not true that the board has tried to stymie the law and blocked improvements to the school.   That is crazy talk that makes no sense.  What is true is that the parents stated that they did not want a charter.  What is true is that Parent Revolution will not agree to place this question up to the parents in a secret ballot vote.  What is true is that a lawsuit and a charter school the parents did not want are undermining the reforms that have been set in place to improve the school.  Why is that happening?  I suggest it is because Parent Revolution is calling the shots and there is no such thing as a free lunch. 


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Saturday, September 1, 2012

Parent Revolution Pants on Fire


“Ironically, the Desert Trails Parents’ Union initially had no interest in their school becoming a charter school.”                        David Phleps – National Communications Director of Parent Revolution   http://parentrevolution.org/recent-criticism-regarding-won’t-back-down
“This group of parents would do anything rather than bring in an outside charter operator.”                                                                         Patrick DeTemple – Organizing Director of Parent Revolution

David Phelps, National Communications Director of Parent Revolution, in a Parent Revolution blog post stated that opponents resort to personal attacks, half-truths and conspiracy theories to defend the status quo.   Really?!  The above quotes are just samplings that prove my contention that the parents of Desert Trails Elementary School in Adelanto - did not want a charter.  EVERY parent from both sides of the issue that spoke to the Board stated that they did not want a charter.  Parent Revolution, however, devised a two petition strategy that had parents sign two different petitions.  One petition was described as implementing reforms – the one that initiated the Parent Trigger discussion.  The other, as strategy, was for a charter.  This petition was meant to intimidate the Board to take the first petition seriously.  But it was the petition for a charter school that was actually submitted to the Board.  Parents representing almost 100 students then wanted to remove their signatures from that petition because they felt misled or was confused by the process.  The Board honored their requests and the number of signatures fell below the required amount needed for the petition to be valid.  Parent Revolution backed a lawsuit against the school district because of that. The judge ruled that the district was prohibited from allowing parents to revoke their signatures. This is not a personal attack, half-truth, or a conspiracy theory.  It’s what happened.

Here is a list of conspiracy theories. 

1. The School Board rejected the parents’ earlier proposal and ultimately filed suit to deny the parents’ petition.  Complete fabrication!  The School Board did not reject the parents’ proposal.  We were waiting for the petition with those proposals to be submitted so that we can formally discuss it and vote on it.   Was this supposed to be a backdoor deal without public discussion?   Way to go for openness, transparency, and honesty.  BTW, Parent Revolution backed the only suit filed and it was against the district.

2.  There was a campaign of intimidation and harassment targeting Desert Trails parents. That’s a lot of parents to harass and remain sinisterly anonymous. Were there any police reports filed? Or does this accusation rely on a couple of affidavits?  Let’s be honest, there was spirited campaigning on both sides of the issue.  Both sides complained of harassment and intimidation - but a campaign?  That’s conspiracy talk and it came from Parent Revolution.

3.  The rescissions are riddled with fraud and forgery.   There was a rescission that had two copies submitted.  One had the box indicating that the person was misled or confused by the petition checked, and the other did not.  The person swore in an affidavit that they did not check the box.  This rescission was then thrown out – just like the petition signature that was nowhere near to the signature on record.  Forgery? Maybe, but we didn’t accuse the whole petition of being riddled with forgery because of it.  But Parent Revolution created a media circus by calling for the District Attorney to investigate the rescissions for fraud.  They held press conferences and got politicians to make the same call for an investigation. That’s conspiracy talk and it came from Parent Revolution.  BTW, the District Attorney’s office concluded that a crime was not committed. 

Mr. Phelps referred to the pro Parent Trigger Wall Street Journal to justify his statements.  The Wall Street Journal is interesting.  The Wall Street Journal managed to take a juicy quote from Board Trustee Wright and still get it wrong.   Mr. Wright made the following statements: “There’s a lot of things I’m willing to do and if I’m found in contempt of court – I brought my own handcuffs – take me away today.  I don’t care any more.” This was prior to a vote in which the Board complied with the judge’s order to accept the petition, but changed the intervention.   What is there to say? Mr. Wright did say that.

The Wall Street Journal, however, stated that Mr. Wright vowed to stand in the schoolhouse door in handcuffs.  He did not.  But it was convenient to the narrative of the story if he had.  So in the article he did.  The writer was trying to tie Mr. Wright’s statement to Orval Faubus, the Arkansas Governor who in 1954 tried to block school integration.  Is that a half-truth? Poetic license?  I think it’s the worse kind of journalism – twisting the facts to fit a narrative.

The Board is not trying to violate anyone’s civil rights.  We honored the requests of parents who felt misled by Parent Revolution.  The Board complied with the Judge's order and accepted the petition. Unfortunately, it was too late to implement a charter for the 2012-13 school year. The Board, allowed under the Parent Trigger law, chose another intervention instead. While parent Revolution and Desert Trails Parent Union was taking resources from students throughout the district with a lawsuit, the community got together and agreed to implement reforms. A charter school for the 2013-14 year would have undermined all of their efforts to turn this school around - THIS YEAR. Is it about the kids or is it about a charter school?

Here's another question. What ever happened to the first petition? You know, the popular and original petition that initiated the Parent Trigger discussion. Why was that never submitted when the charter petition lost the support of parents that did not want a charter? I believe that petition was never submitted and is now probably lost because it did not meet the political goals of Parent Revolution. They would rather use their deep pocket resources to pound a small school district with lawsuits than admit that the majority of the parents do not want a charter.

Let's stop the divisive lawsuits and arguments. Put the issue of charter school or no charter school to the parents of Desert Trails Elementary School with a secret ballot vote monitored by neutral parties. Let's know for sure in a democratic fashion the true will of the parents.



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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Parent Empowerment? Let Parents Vote!



What is parent empowerment?  I hope it is not a powerful corporation (like Parent Revolution) using a law (like Parent-Trigger) and lawsuits to impose their will on a school that is contrary to the parents' original stated goals.  That seems to be the case in Adelanto, California.  If so, then let's simply bring the issue back to the parents in a secret ballot vote.  

Parent-Trigger (really called the Parent Empowerment Act), allows parents to submit a petition representing 50% + 1 of a failing school population to a local school board that would force one of several federal interventions on that school. 

The Parent-Trigger law has been a divisive issue in our small community.  It didn't have to be.  Parent Revolution could have been honest and have parents sign one Parent-Trigger petition.  Instead they had parents sign two petitions and submitted a charter proposal parents stated that they did not want.  Many parents pushed back at Parent Revolution with almost 100 requests to remove their signatures from the petition because they felt misled or was confused by the process.  The School Board honored their requests.  This caused the Parent-Trigger petition to fall below the required number of signatures.  That is what happened.

Parent Revolution has been spinning the story to make it seem that the Board is anti-parent and not listening to the will of the parents.  Totally untrue.  Every parent on both sides of the issue told the Board that they did not want a charter school.  The Desert Trails Parent Union provided a list of their original objectives (see link below) and it never included converting the school into a charter.

http://deserttrailsparentunion.webs.com/listofobjectives.htm

The Adelanto School District has acted in good faith.  In the lawsuit brought against the district, Judge Malone issued a ruling stating that the Board was prohibited from allowing parents to revoke their signatures from the Parent-Trigger petition.  The School District was ordered to accept the petition and the School Board complied with that order. The Board also determined that it could not impose the charter school for the 2012-13 school year.  Instead, as allowed by the Parent-Trigger law, another federal intervention, alternative governance, was chosen.  This intervention is closer to the parents' original requests for reform.  

While Parent Revolution and the Desert Trails Parent Union have been robbing district funds from kids with lawsuits, the community has been busy implementing reforms to transform the school to what they originally claimed to want.

1. Establishment of Desert Trails Council that reports directly to the superintendent.

2. Program Improvement Planning Team

3. Memorandum of Understanding related to teacher involvement.

4. New curriculum

5. School Site Coach for intervention program support

6. Extended day instruction

7. Technology infusion in the classrooms 

8. Signed Commitment Letters from certificated staff 

Plus an excellent principal chosen with community involvement.

Compare this with Desert Trails Parent Union's original list of objectives.  It is clear that the parents and students have won!  Parent Revolution, however, is considering backing another lawsuit against the district.

The Desert Trails Parent Union now have a choice.  They can partner with the district through the alternate governance plan and transform the school or they can continue to partner with Parent Revolution to further rob our kids with lawsuits. 

I would like to issue a personal challenge (have not discussed this with the Board).  If the issue is about Parent Empowerment, then I  challenge Parent Revolution and the Desert Trails Parent Union to put it up to the parents in a secret ballot vote.  Why waste district funds on a lawsuit?  I contend that the district has complied with the reforms asked for by parents.  I accuse Parent Revolution of making this about what that organization wants and not what the majority of parents want.  Let the parents of Desert Trails Elementary School vote up or down in a secret ballot monitored by neutral parties the issue of a charter school.  I'm not afraid of the results - no matter what it may be.  Can Parent Revolution and the Desert Trails Parent Union say the same? Or are they too invested in a win that true Parent Empowerment has been dropped from their vocabulary?


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.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Parent Revolution Robbing School District

'Trigger' parents sue Adelanto School District

Parent Revolution backed an expensive lawsuit against the Adelanto School District to impose a charter the parents claim to not want.  Now Gabe Rose of Parent Revolution is consulting with attorneys to do it again.  This small school district may not be able to stand against the big league juggernaut funded by wealthy foundations.

This is so wrong.  While Parent Revolution is robbing needed funds from school kids through lawsuits, the community has gotten together with school improvement reforms that will transform Desert Trails into the school the Desert Trails Parent Union claimed to want. 

Recap:

Parent Trigger is a poorly written experimental law that allows a petition of parents representing 50% plus 1 of a failing school to impose one of several federal interventions on the school.  Parent Revolution is a nonprofit corporation funded by wealthy backers that organizes parents to use this law.  They had parents with children in Desert Trails Elementary School sign two petitions.  The first petition has been described as transforming the school through alternative governance reforms.  The second petition was to impose a charter on the school.  The second petition was submitted to the Adelanto School District.  Many parents felt that they were misled or confused by the process and did not want a charter for their school.  Every parent on both sides of the issue told the School Board that they did not want a charter.  Parents mobilized to rescind their signatures from the petition.  Parent Revolution insisted that rescissions are not allowed.  The Board, however, allowed the parents to remove their names from the petition.  This caused the petition to fall short of the required number of signatures.  Parent Revolution backed an expensive and successful lawsuit against the district.  

Current:

On July 18th,  Judge Malone of the Superior Court, County of San Bernardino, issued a ruling, in which it was held that the Board was prohibited from allowing parents to revoke signatures from the petition.  He ordered the district to accept the petition.

Yesterday, the Adelanto School District complied with the court order and accepted the petition.  Upon accepting the petition - it is part of the Parent Trigger Law for the School Board to make a final disposition with respect to the petition.  The Board had to decide if the district could implement the petition.  If not, then another intervention can be selected. The School Board concluded that it was impossible to implement a charter on Desert Trails Elementary School for the 2012-13 school year.  It cannot be done.   The Board then chose another intervention model (alternative governance) that can be implemented this school year.

I believe that the alternative governance is closer to what the Desert Trails Parent Union has been claiming to want than a charter school.  They have been stating that they really want reform and not a charter.  The alternative governance reforms will include a community advisory council that will oversee improvements such as an extended school day, new curriculum, more technology, more school progress reports, and a school site improvement coach.  And, as reported by the LA times, teachers will be asked to pledge support for the reforms in commitment letters and those who choose not to sign may move to another school. 

Gabe Rose of Parent Revolution is consulting with attorneys.  Interesting that he did not state that he will be consulting with the parents.  The Desert Trails Parent Union, if allowed by Parent Revolution, now has a choice.  They can partner with the district through the alternative governance plan and transform the school or they can continue to partner with Parent Revolution to further rob our kids with lawsuits.


Please join me in my reflections on 21st century learning.  I want to read your comments and opinions.  I will do my best to answer questions.


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LA Times - LA Now Blog  
Adelanto Parents Lose Charter School Bid 






Monday, July 23, 2012

Parent Revolution's Bait and Switch Sleigh of Hand Worked

This group of parents would do anything rather than bring in an outside charter operator.
     Patrick DeTemple 
Organizing Director of Parent Revolution  
But we had rejected bringing in a charter.
     Melody Medrano (parent) 
Coordinator with Desert Trails Parent Union

I've just received phone calls from reporters asking for a reaction to Judge Malone's decision to not allow rescissions in the Adelanto Desert Trails Parent Trigger Law petition.  The petition was rejected by the Adelanto School Board for not having enough valid signatures due to a significant number of parents taking back their signatures.  According to what I have been told - parents will not be allowed to take back their signatures, the petition is valid, and the Parent Trigger leaders will be allowed to solicit bids to convert Desert Trails into a charter school. 

The Board of Trustees has not met to receive a briefing on the decision yet.  

Personally, I am not concerned about converting Desert Trails into a charter school as long as the board has a say with community input on what that charter school will be.  I am, however, gravely concerned about Parent Revolution's two petition strategy to push their agenda through. For that reason I would recommend that the decision be appealed. I do not believe that the two petition strategy should be acceptable nor allowed to be used again anywhere. Read my posts in May and April  http://educatormusing.blogspot.com/

The controversy centers on parents taking back their signatures because they felt misled or were confused by the process of signature gathering.  Parent Revolution, the nonprofit organization backing the parent trigger petition, had parents sign two different petitions and submitted the least favored one to the board.  Petition #1 was for structural changes in the school organization.  Parent Trigger leaders, however, stated that they knew it would not give them what they wanted.  Petition #2 was for charter school conversion.  Parent Trigger leaders stated that this petition would give them what they wanted, but knew that parents were opposed to charter school conversion.  Seems to me that the two petition strategy was predisposed to submitting petition #2.  Parent Revolution refers to the two petition approach as strategy to get the district to negotiate.  I'm calling it bait and switch.  State Senator Gloria Romero, author of the Parent Trigger Law, initially called their two petition approach a dubious strategic choice.  You only need one petition at the ready to threaten a district to negotiate under the parent trigger law - not two.  How does having parents signing two different petitions and submitting the least favorite choice a strategy to convince districts to negotiate?  I'm in favor of parent empowerment and that argument sounds dubious to me too.  I believe the judge's decision should be appealed.




Sunday, May 6, 2012

Parent Revolution's Two Petition Strategy - Confusing or Misleading?

     For our first strategy, and this was and remains our first choice, we knew we could achieve our goals within the district, but the district would have to formally make changes and just as important the teacher's union would have to make changes to their operations.  This model became petition #1.  And it calls for the district to give certain powers to Desert Trails Kids First and for the union to enter into an agreement with the district that waives certain provisions of the teachers' union contract like the ones that would control who taught at Desert Trails and allow time for things like professional development.  The problem was that even with the Parent Trigger Law we knew that we could not just force the district and teachers' union to make these changes.  They have to come voluntarily.  
     Second, we knew that the freedom that we were looking for could be achieved by a charter passed.  But we had rejected bringing in a charter.  Our community has been burdened by outside charters before and we had never wanted to bring someone in to run our school.  Our answer after a lot of thought was to use certain charter provisions of the Parent Trigger Law to propose our own community school.  One that was run by parents and the best education talent we could find.  This outcome would be required if we failed to work out a satisfactory solution with the district and the district with the union.  This is plan B petition # 2.
Melody Medrano (parent) - Coordinator with Desert Trails Parent Union

     This group of parents would do anything rather than bring in an outside charter operator.  What they chose to do, and I will explain in just a second why, was take the step of deciding to form a school using California charter law that they call a community school.  I know it doesn't exist in law per se - right? - but they call it a community school, formed out of California charter law with a majority parent control, bringing in the best people they can get to make it work.
     ... I will tell you quite frankly, and again this is probably more kind of cutting edge law than anybody here wants to hear, but it is a serious question as to whether or not the implementation of the Turn Around or Transformation option or Alternative Governance for that matter under the Parent Trigger law would be able to have an impact on the collective bargaining agreements if the union didn't want it.  The charter option on the other hand is somewhat more robust in that regard.
Patrick DeTemple - Organizing Director of Parent Revolution


Note: The views posted on my blog are my own and should not be confused as statements from the Adelanto School Board.
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The Adelanto School District Board of Trustees determined on February 21, 2012 that the Parent Trigger Law petition submitted by the Desert Trails Parent Union did not have enough valid signatures to be accepted and adopted.  The petition was resubmitted at a later date, but it was determined again not to have enough verifiable valid signatures.  


The Parent Trigger Law is a 2010 California law that has been adopted by several other states, but has not yet been successfully implemented anywhere.  It's a failed law.  The purpose of the law is to empower parents whose children make up 50% of a school, through a petition, the authority to force a district to impose one out five Race To The Top intervention models on their failing school.  


The intervention models are as followed:
1.  Transformation - Replace the principal.
2.  Turn Around - Replace the principal and 50% of all staff.
3.  Restart - Convert the school into a charter.
4.  Closure - Close the school.
5.  Alternative Governance - Any other major restructuring of the school's governance.

The problem with this law is that it not energized by grass roots support and has not been successfully implemented anywhere.  It needs the support and organization of the nonprofit Parent Revolution.  In the meanwhile, the Test Opt Out movement, a real parent rebellion, is beginning to sweep the nation with no need for such support to catch on as a movement.

The Desert Trails Parent Union submitted a Restart petition to allow itself the option of choosing the newly created Desert Trails Kids First organization to manage the independent charter school restart of Desert Trails Elementary School.  Very little is known about the Desert Trails Kids First organization.  Parent Revolution provided the strategy, technical support, and a few staff members for this petition.  It then became the role of the school district to verify the signatures of the petition.  Signatures that could not be verified as legitimate for various reasons or were rescinded by parents who felt they were misled or confused were not counted.  

The rescission of signatures by parents has been a major topic of discussion.  Former State Senator Gloria Romero, author of the Parent Trigger Law, has stated that there is no provision in the law for the rescission of signatures.  Of course that also means that there are no prohibitions against rescissions.  This is a discussion that will probably be settled in a courtroom.  Riveting stuff, really. 

I believe that Parent Revolution's two petition strategy is the center of this controversy.  Yes, Parent Revolution had parents sign two different petitions at the same time.  Desert Trails Parent Union submitted the least popular 2nd petition to the district.  Former State Senator Gloria Romero initially took the position that it was a dubious strategic choice that was bound to confuse parents.  She then later called it smart and strategic.  She also initially stated that parents should be given one chance to revoke their signature within a specified time limit if they believe they were misled into signing the petition.

Is Parent Revolution's two petition strategy confusing or misleading?  I haven't decided yet.  Perhaps I am too confused to understand that parents may have been misled.  Parent Revolution parents have consistently stated that they do not want a charter school.  Parent Revolution confirms this.  Yet they submitted the one petition out of the two signed petitions that called for converting Desert Trails Elementary School into a charter.

Patrick DeTemple, organizing director of Parent Revolution, understands that a school created under California's charter laws is a charter school.  Interestingly, the parents of Desert Trails Parent Union, whom say they do not want a charter school, are willing to accept a charter school if they call it a community school and is operated by their created Desert Trails Kids First organization.  As stated previously, we know very little about the Desert Trails Kids First organization.

The two petition strategy has been called by the same person as a dubious strategic choice that is bound to confuse parents and also smart.  Can the difference be reconciled?  

This is how it was explained to me by Melody Medrano and Patrick DeTemple.  Parents at Desert Trails Elementary School were unhappy and frustrated by the lack of progress at that school. They contacted Parent Revolution to learn more about the Parent Trigger Law.  I happen to know that it was Lisa Marie Garcia's idea.  She is a former board member of the Adelanto School District.  

The parents did not want a charter school, but they wanted to be able to hire and fire the principal.  They also wanted the principal to be able to hire, fire, assign teachers and make other decisions without union contract restraints.   Parent Revolution helped them get organized.  They formed the Desert Trails Parent Union and created the Desert Trails Kids First organization.  And they devised a two petition strategy.

Parent Revolution and Desert Trails Parent Union asked parents to sign two different petitions at the same time.  Petition #1 is said to be their first choice.  I have never actually seen it.  This petition has been described much like the Alternative Governance intervention model in which major restructuring of the school's governance is made.   This is what the Desert Trails Parent Union said they were negotiating for.  Parent Revolution and the Parent Union, however, never believed that this petition could force the district to give them the power they wanted.  Petition #2, a Restart intervention model calling for a charter school operated by Desert Trails Kids First, however could give them the power they wanted.  Instead of calling it a charter school - they are calling it a community school.  It has been described as their backup plan.  

The submission of petition #2 was aligned with the timeline needed to get a charter school approved.  


I am confident that each petition was individually explained carefully to the parents that signed them.  I'm not sure, however, how the rationale for signing the two different petitions at the same time was explained.  Were the parents told that Parent Revolution and the Parent Union were not confident that the popular first petition was going to accomplish their goals and so they needed the charter school option?  Or were they told that the unpopular charter school option was needed to force the district to negotiate the first petition?  There is a huge difference in rationale between the two explanations.

The first explanation implies that Parent Revolution and Desert Trails Parent Union will make an attempt, up until the timeline for getting a charter school approved, to negotiate for the first petition, but they were going to submit the more "robust" 2nd petition.  

The second explanation implies that Parent Revolution and the Parent Union were going to fight for the first choice petition of changing the governance of the school and will hold the charter school petition as a threat to force the district to negotiate.  If that is the case, then they really only needed one petition at the ready to make the district negotiate.  But I forget, they had no confidence that the first petition could force the district to give them what they wanted.  So they really needed two petitions, right?

I am now also wondering if the parents would have just signed the charter school petition option alone without the possibility of the more popular Alternative Governance option.  

It is little wonder that parents wanted to take back their signatures. I believe a reasonable person can understand that a scenario has been created in which a parent can legitimately state that the signature process for two different petitions and the submission of the least favored charter petition was either confusing or misleading.  They should be allowed to rescind their signature.

What is your opinion?  Was Parent Revolution's two petition strategy confusing or misleading?
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Please join me in my reflections on 21st century learning.  I want to read your comments and opinions.  I will do my best to answer questions. 

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video
(Audio) Melody Medrano PowerPoint Part 1 AESD Board Meeting 02-21-2012

video
(Audio) Melody Medrano PowerPoint Part 2 AESD Board Meeting 02-21-2012

video
(Audio) Patrick DeTemple on Two Petition Strategy Part 1 AESD Board Meeting 02-21-2012


video
(Audio) Patrick DeTemple on Two Petition Strategy Part 2 AESD Board Meeting 02-21-2012

To order $10 CD with complete audio recording of AESD Board Meeting 02-21-2012,  contact Superintendent Secretary at (760) 246-8691

The Sun
April 28, 2012

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Real Parent Empowerment is a Rebellion



     If without medical justification, [your son] is absent from school on any day during the Assessment period, the District will deem this absence as unexcused.  Further, if you keep [your son] home from school during the Assessment period, without medical verification, it is within the District’s discretion to deem these absences as indicia of educational neglect, which would leave the District little choice but to contact Child Protective Services (“CPS”). Pursuant to the New York State Education Department’s 2012 School Administrator’s Manual, a student will receive a final score of “999 and will be counted as “not tested” if: (1) he is absent from the entire test; (2) he refuses the entire test; (3) he is absent for any session; or (4) he is present for all sessions, but does not respond to even one question on the test. Accordingly, if [your son] engages in any one of these activities, he will receive a final score of 999, he will be counted as not tested, he may receive an unexcused absence, and CPS may have to be called. 
Thomas Capone - Principal of School #2
Oceanside School District
Oceanside, NY

 There's been a lot of talk about parent empowerment.  I'm not seeing a lot of it.  The Parent Trigger Law, as I have seen it applied to the Adelanto School District, is not parent empowerment.  It is a vehicle to impose Race To The Top policies on school districts.  It does more to empower outside groups to make decisions affecting children than it does to empower their parents.  Many of our laws from so-called education reformers do little to nothing for parent empowerment.  Many of them actually restrict parent empowerment.


In the latest opt out news, Christine Dougherty wanted to opt her son out of state testing.  Her son attends School #2 in Oceanside, New York.  She informed the principal that after watching her son struggle and listening to his concerns they decided to opt him out of this unnecessary testing.  Her son was still required to take the test when he arrived at school.  Also, Thomas Capone, the principal, responded to her decision by threatening to contact Child Protective Services if her son did not participate in state testing.


Really?!  What the heck!  Where are the Pro Bono lawyers to fight for her constitutional parent empowerment rights?  Where are the deep pocket funded astro turf nonprofit organizations to organize civil rights resistance to the tyranny of the state? Where are the liberal or conservative politicians that wax eloquently that they support disenfranchised parents?  They are nowhere because it is not a cause that aligns with their goals.  It doesn't impose their policies on school districts. 


We are in an era in which the state and federal governments want to make decisions for us.  This is a bipartisan effort by politicians that can't balance or pass a real budget, or secure our borders, but want to take over the education of our children.  And standardized state testing is a key element in how it is done.


Good luck to the parents that want to opt out of state testing.  Such an option takes away power from politicians and deep pocket funded astro turf nonprofit organizations that want to use state testing for their purposes.  Opting out of state testing is exercising true parent empowerment.  It is the actual parent rebellion demanding real reforms to education. 


There is a grassroots parent rebellion forming across the country that is demanding real improvement in schools, or parents will opt their students out of state testing.  It has nothing to do with the nonprofit organization called Parent Revolution.  The nonprofit Parent Revolution has had more than two years and several states to properly implement a parent trigger law petition and hasn't succeeded yet.  Their problem - The Parent Trigger Law is not a grassroots movement.  It causes division wherever it goes and winds up initiating a lawsuit instead of reform.


Opting out of state testing, however, is a real parent rebellion.  There are parents in Seattle protesting state budget cuts to education by opting their children from state testing.  The parents reason that the $40 million a year the state spends on testing could be better used in the classroom.  


There is an online petition to the New York State Regents to end the reliance on high stakes standardized testing.


There are more than 300 school districts in Texas  that have adopted a resolution saying that standardized tests are "strangling" public schools and asking their State Board of Education to rethink the testing regime.


The rebellion is growing.  More and more parents are considering opting their children out of state testing.  There are more open letters from professionals calling for the end of high stakes testing and the beginning of true education reforms. And there are good reasons for this.


The federal and state use of standardized state testing is hurting - not reforming education for our students.  It is narrowing the curriculum to only what will be on the test - crowding out social studies, science, and the arts.  It is limiting teaching to simple test prep instruction.  Critical thinking is being limited to deciphering the correct answer out of four choices on a fill in the bubble test.  Its only real purpose is to give politicians and influential groups an easy to score leverage to impose their educational policies on schools.  


Parents, if you really want to hold your school, district, state, and federal government hostage to your demands for better education - opt your students out of state testing.  
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video

April 09, 2012


The Innovator Educator - Blog


April 19, 2012


American Principles In Action
April 19, 2012
 
Grumpy Educators
April 18, 2012

Schools Matter
April 18, 2012

The Washington Post – The Answer Sheet
April 20, 2012


New York Times – School Book
With Test Week Here, Parents Consider the Option of Opting Out
April 16, 2012 


q13Fox. com


April 09, 2012

Herald Net
April 09, 2012

My San Antonio
April 03, 2012
 
The Washington Post – The Answer Sheet
March 31, 2012

The Miami Herald
March 27, 2012

The Washington Post – The Answer Sheet
March 23, 2012

The Washington Post – The Answer Sheet
February 10, 2012

The New York Times
February 04, 2012

The Huffington Post – Education
January 31, 2012