It’s official: 2013 is the year of parent power. Increasingly, the year signals a new paradigm of collaboration among parents and other key stakeholders for ensuring tangible, immediate, and positive change in failing schools.
Nothing signals this shift more than the acknowledgment by United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) President Warren Fletcher that "If any teacher has not been responsive, that has been a mistake." In a gesture to create a clean slate for collaboration, Fletcher and UTLA issued a statement this morning pledging “to work with concerned parents at 24th Street Elementary School, with the common goal of improving students’ education.”
Parents like Laura Wade, a speaker at yesterday’s event, have long stated “We’ve been asking our teachers at our school for help." The school — 24th Street Elementary — ranks in the bottom 2% of the district’s elementary schools, and 70% of students leave the school without the ability to read at grade level.
Amabilia Villeda, a speaker and leader of the 24th Street Parents Union, said, “We felt ignored and powerless… Now people are listening."
The transformation of LAUSD’s 24th Street Elementary School serves as a poster child for this new paradigm. In their plan for reform submitted under LAUSD’s Public School Choice process, current 24th Street Elementary School teachers acknowledged the school’s failures: “Parents are indignant and rightfully so, because their children continue to suffer in a school that has flat lined academically.”
Teachers would go on to write: “Quantitative, qualitative, empirical or anecdotal…students at 24th Street are not ready for the demands of middle school and beyond.”
To transform 24th Street Elementary School (and many other failing schools in California and beyond), parents, teachers, administrators, and community stakeholder will need to continue to work together. An example for such collaboration will likely come from the trailblazing community of Adelanto, who successfully completed the full parent trigger process just last week.
Just last week, the Adelanto School Board unanimously approved the Desert Trails Parents Union selection of nonprofit charter operator LaVerne Elementary Preparatory Academy to come in and manage Desert Trails Elementary School. Last year, LaVerne Prep’s API score ranked 911 out of 1000.
Yesterday, LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy welcomed parents to collaborate together for a real solution: “It is absolutely the administration's and my desire to work side-by-side with you so every student — todos los ninos — gets an outstanding education.”
As a direct result of parents using their rights to turnaround failing schools under California’s 2010 Parent Empowerment Act – commonly known as the parent trigger law – parents have a real seat at the decision-making table. Marked by the revolutionary paradigm shift, 2013 promises to truly be the year of parent power.