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’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.

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.

Please friend me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter.

No comments: