We the Parents, the new documentary about California's cutting-edge Parent Trigger law, premiered in Beverly Hills last night, with an expert panel discussing the ups and downs of Parent Trigger battles in Compton and Adelanto, where parents sought to gain control of their children's failing schools.

“We all had a common ground,” said Cynthia Ramirez, a Parent Trigger leader in Adelanto, California, last night. “Our kids were in a failing school… If we don't unite, we don't accomplish.”

Through petition, the Parent Trigger law allows parents to institute various changes at a chronically failing school. We the Parents, which was directed by James Takata, shows the struggles of Compton parents who attempted the first Parent Trigger in the United States in 2010.

The Compton parents faced major resistance from Compton Unified School District officials and eventually lost their bid to successfully pull off a Parent Trigger due to a legal technicality.

Yet much was learned from that experience by parents in other cities, including Adelanto and Los Angeles, who moved forward with their own parent triggers.

Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy, who sat on last night's panel, urged parents who are considering a Parent Trigger to stand strong. “Just don't be fearful,” said Deasy. “Don't be afraid… We want people on the front lines to be fearless for kids.”

Ben Austin, the executive director of Parent Revolution, the Los Angeles-based education reform group that organized and provided support for Compton parents, said opponents of the Parent Trigger law have lost sight of what really matters.

“At the end of the day,” said Austin, another expert panelist, “parents just want a good school for their kids… this law can work.”

L.A. Unified has recently seen a number of parent triggers take place within its district, one of which was examined in the L.A. Weekly cover story “The Parent Trigger Warriors of Watts.”

With California taking the lead, Parent Trigger laws are now popping up in states across the country.

(Note: Patrick Range McDonald made an appearance in the documentary.)

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Patrick Range McDonald on Twitter at @PRMcDonald.

LA Weekly