The Parent Trigger at 24th Street Elementary School in West Adams keeps chugging along — despite what L.A. mayoral candidate Eric Garcetti thinks about it.
Today, Latino and African American parents at 24th Street Elementary will vote to ratify who will operate their kids' school next year. They had previously, and successfully, petitioned to take over the chronically failing Los Angeles Unified school through California's Parent Trigger law.
The 24th Street Elementary School Parents Union steering committee has recommended a “joint operator” in which L.A. Unified and non-profit charter school operator Crown Prep Academy share the duties.
In the recommended proposal, L.A. Unified would handle kindergarten through fourth grade and Crown Prep would teach fifth grade through eighth.
Only the 359 parents who signed the Parent Trigger petition are allowed to vote, but that represents 69 percent of the students there. They'll have four options to consider, including the recommended joint plan.
24th Street Elementary has a student body that's 75 percent Latino and 23 percent African American, according to GreatSchools.org. Since 87 percent of the students are eligible for a free or reduced-priced lunch program, many of them come from poor or working-class families.
The vote, which will be independently monitored, takes place between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. at Benny H. Potter West Adams Avenue Memorial Park at the intersection of 24th Street and 2nd Avenue in L.A.
The results will be announced on Wednesday, and the winning proposal then heads to the L.A. Unified school board for approval.
Late last week, the Parent Trigger once again became a hot topic in L.A.'s mayoral race.
Wendy Greuel supports the law while Eric Garcetti had been vague but then fully backed it. Greuel's campaign now says Garcetti has flip-flopped on the issue.
But that's not the most annoying thing about Garcetti's stance on the Parent Trigger.
Garcetti, who's been making a big play for the Latino vote, constantly adds an insulting post script to his “support” of the Parent Trigger by saying he doesn't think the law is the only thing that can reform public schools.
“I support anything including the Parent Trigger that helps empower parents,” Garcetti recently told the Los Angeles Times. “What I have said also consistently … is that a Parent Trigger or something like that on its own is not going to single-handedly reform education, that those are going to be the exceptional cases. We have to look at comprehensive tools for all of our schools, not just those that are the most failing, where the Parent Trigger may come in.”
Absolutely no one — no one at all — in the Parent Trigger movement has said the law will “single-handedly reform education.”
And absolutely no smart education reformer has EVER said there was one, almighty magic bullet to turn around schools.
The list of problems with public schools in L.A. — from effectively teaching English language learners to dealing with an anti-reform-minded teachers' union to bad principals and teachers to a huge, messy bureaucracy to better parent involvement and so forth — is long and varied. So of course there's going to be a need for more than one solution.
Parent Trigger supporters and education reformers know that. If they didn't, they wouldn't be taken seriously for very long, which may actually say something about Garcetti's knowledge of — or his lack of it — the problems facing public education.
So what is Garcetti thinking when he “consistently” tells everyone that the Parent Trigger isn't the only thing to save public schools? Why is he coming off in such a condescending way?
It may be that Garcetti is trying to send a signal to the United Teachers Los Angeles, which endorsed him, that he doesn't really like the Parent Trigger law.
Let's hope it's that, and not the possibility that Garcetti is perfectly fine insulting the intelligence of every education reformer, every parent, every Angeleno who has a brain.
Anyhow, the Parent Trigger is moving forward with or without Garcetti's support, whether he likes it or not.
As far as it's known, Garcetti, an Ivy Leaguer and Rhodes Scholar, has not asked the poor and working-class Latino and African American parents at 24th Street Elementary what they think is needed for education reform.
Since they're starting the process of turning around a public school — and got stuck with a chronically failing one for years — it seems only smart to ask parents who are on the front lines about their thoughts and experiences, don't you think?
Garcetti, who has deemed himself a “Latino” candidate, can visit the Latino and African American parents today at Benny H. Potter West Adams Avenue Memorial Park between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. They'll undoubtedly have a few things to tell him.
Contact Patrick Range McDonald at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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