“Transparency” appears to be the new political controversy over California's Parent Trigger law, which allows parents to make changes at a chronically failing public school if they pull off a successful petition drive.

While former state senator Gloria Romero thinks the transparency issue is over-hyped, according to California Watch, don't be surprised if opponents of the Parent Trigger in Sacramento look to change regulations or the law itself in the coming weeks.

“If transparency means giving time for parents to be intimidated, threatened and deported, that is not transparency to me,” Romero, the author of the Parent Trigger, tells California Watch. “I strongly support the parent trigger law as it was introduced (in the legislature), and it is operating in the way it was intended.”

Opponents of the Parent Trigger are still smarting over the successful petition drive at Compton Unified School District, which became the first of its kind in the United States.

Parents and paid organizers with the Los Angeles-based education reform group Parent Revolution managed to work mostly under the radar while gathering signatures from some 60 percent of parents whose children attend McKinley Elementary School.

That petition drive seeks to replace the chronically failing elementary school with a charter school run by the Celerity Educational Group.

With a sudden influx of Governor Jerry Brown appointees, the California State Board of Education has now postponed approving regulations for how the Parent Trigger works. The word going around the state capitol is that the board may seek to push for more “transparency” during the signature collecting process.

With unfettered access, L.A. Weekly spent time with Parent Revolution organizers and Compton parents when they were still working on gathering signatures. It was a situation ripe for intimidation tactics by Compton Unified officials, who want to maintain the status quo, and statewide teachers' union, who hate the Parent Trigger law.

Parent Revolution organizers, as a result, took a strategy from the labor movement and organized in a low profile way. It was obviously effective, and allowed parents to take the major step in confronting Compton Unified officials and to demand change on the behalf of their children.

As Romero tells California Watch, “”All this (the parent trigger) does is provide parents the opportunity to petition their government. Why are we afraid of that?”

If the California Board of Education does push for more so-called transparency, it will be interesting to see if the California legislature holds politically-connected labor unions who also organize under the radar to the same standards. If that took place, labor unions would undoubtedly be outraged.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at pmcdonald@laweekly.com.

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