In Major Political Split, U.S. Conference of Mayors Supports Parent Trigger Law

The Parent Trigger, the California law that allows parents to take over a chronically failing school, got a major political boost Saturday when the United States Conference of Mayors endorsed it as part of its education platform.

In the national political landscape, this is big news. Democrats in the U.S. Conference of Mayors were major supporters of the endorsement, and they often rely on the help of teachers unions to get elected. Teachers unions generally hate the Parent Trigger. So, on June 16, a huge split occurred between two longtime allies.

Parent Revolution, the Los Angeles-based organization that pushed for the Parent Trigger law and was featured in an award-winning 2010 L.A. Weekly cover story, sent out a press release yesterday, trumpeting the endorsement as a "historic resolution of support."

The Parent Revolution wants the law to be enacted in other parts of the country.

In the press release, Democratic Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, also chimes in:

"Mayors understand at a local level that most parents lack the tools they need to turn their schools around. Parent Trigger empowers parents to turn failing schools into high-achieving schools. Education is the civil rights issue of our time, and the Parent Trigger is one of a number of tools we need to achieve the highest standards in our urban schools."

Parent Revolution executive director Ben Austin adds:

"This vote represents an historic step forward for the parent power movement and the education reform movement both within the Democratic Party as well as in dozens of big and small cities across the nation. Parents and mayors both intuitively understand the tragic impact of our failed educational status quo, as well as the moral, political and economic urgency of giving parents power over the educational destiny of their own children."

We'll see what the political fallout will be with the teachers unions in the coming months, with many Democrats facing election contests in November.

The Parent Trigger, in the meantime, will soon be getting even more attention. The movie Won't Back Down , starring Maggie Gyllenthal, Viola Davis and Holly Hunter, will tell the story of the cutting-edge California law. It will be coming to theaters in the fall.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at pmcdonald@laweekly.com.


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