Parent Revolution announced today that after six years at its helm, founder and Executive Director Ben Austin is leaving the organization to pursue new opportunities.  Below are statements from the Parent Revolution board, Ben, longtime Parent Revolution leader Shirley Ford, parent leader Esmeralda Medina, and Students First CEO Jim Blew.  Alison Laslett, current Chief Operating Officer at Parent Revolution, will be stepping in as interim Executive Director while the Board searches for a new Executive Director to guide the organization.

Statement from the Parent Revolution Board of Directors:

“Ben Austin has made great strides with Parent Revolution over the past six years, and with the organization now solid and thriving, he has decided to move on to new challenges.  The Board is grateful for his hard work and tremendous commitment, and we look forward to our continued growth and increased impact on behalf of underserved communities in our country.

With the success of last month’s first-ever Parent Power Convention, the establishment of the new Parent Power Network, and the positive early academic outcomes emerging from the schools we have helped to transform, Parent Revolution is at an important inflection point.  We have accomplished much over the past six years, but we firmly believe that our best days are ahead of us. We have confidence in the leadership team at Parent Revolution and we know that they will be able to effectively carry the torch while we find our next Executive Director.”

Statement from Ben Austin:

“We have had many chapters in the story of Parent Revolution. Over the past six years, we have invented an idea, passed it into law, implemented it, built an organization and scaled a movement. 

In the wake of the successful Parent Power Convention and the recent agreement with the LAUSD to work collaboratively on Parent Trigger, we are at an inflection point. We have normalized the idea of parent power and institutionalized Parent Trigger laws into our legal and political framework. The nature of our work has also changed. It's now about long term movement and institution building. It’s time to let new leadership and new energy take the reigns and help shape this next chapter.”

Statement from Shirley Ford:

 “When Parent Revolution began six years ago, we had no money, a tiny team, and no idea how we were going to accomplish our goals.  But what we did have was a conviction that a powerful movement of parents could help to change the disastrous status quo. Today, six schools have been transformed, states around the country are looking to California’s Parent Empowerment law and our work as a model, and we have fundamentally shifted the conversation about the role of parents in public education. I’m looking forward to continued progress over the next six years.”

Statement from Esmeralda Medina, Coordinator of the Haddon Parents Union (Revolutionary Parents of Haddon):

“We want the world to know that we are still here, we are still fighting alongside Parent Revolution, and we will keep going.  Our kids need better schools now, and we will continue to move forward to get a great school for every child in our communities.”

 Statement from Jim Blew, CEO of Students First:

 “Parent Revolution’s work over the past six years has made an enormous impact on the education reform landscape.  For far too long, parents from low-income communities have had little to no power when it comes to helping their kids get the education they deserve.  Parent Revolution has carved out a new and innovative path to help parents have real and meaningful power to transform public education.  I am confident that Parent Revolution will continue to grow and thrive moving forward under new and dynamic leadership.”

For questions contact:

Gabe Rose, Chief Strategy Officer


AuthorParent Revolution

Parent Revolution Stands with Students, Law Enforcement and LAUSD to improve education and life outcomes for low-income students of color and their families.

Parent Revolution is thrilled to announce its support and endorsement of the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act. By supporting this Act, we, at Parent Revolution, affirm our commitment to putting the interests of children first and doing whatever it takes to get every child in California a great public education.

LAUSD, as well as members of the law enforcement community, education community, and faith community have all come together to endorse the measure which would take a small but important step towards redirecting funds from our prisons to our schools. Prop 47 will punish low-level non-violent crimes as misdemeanors, rather than felonies, saving the state $1.25 billion over 5 years. A quarter of these savings will be redirected into public education.

In addition to redistributing more money into California schools, the passage of Proposition 47 will significantly reduce the criminalization of low-income students and parents of color, thereby interrupting the school to prison pipeline.  Additionally, when parents of color are labeled as felons and put under the control of the criminal justice system for decades due to non-violent, low level offenses, it deprives their children of their most important educational advocate – their parents. 

It is our core belief that every child deserves access to a high quality education. Funding our schools more effectively and ensuring that kids are in school and presented with daily opportunities to learn is a step towards making that reality a possibility.  

Ben Austin, Executive Director of Parent Revolution issued the following statement:

“When I take my daughter to school, I drop her off in a safe neighborhood, into a school that has the financial resources to provide a high quality education for her and her peers. Every parent has that right, but that’s not the reality that many parents deal with everyday. Proposition 47 invests in families and schools and allows law enforcement to keep communities safe by focusing on reducing violent crime.

Proposition 47 directly benefits low-income parents of color and positively impacts the schools that serve low-income students of color. We are enthusiastically supporting this significant step towards equity and educational justice.”



Ever since parents began using California’s historic Parent Empowerment Act, a key question has followed our work around California and the nation: Does #parentpower lead to student success. 

We know that the challenging nature of school transformation efforts means that it will take years to more conclusively answer that question.  Much of the current research suggests that it can take years for successful transformation efforts to show significant improvements in test scores.  Districts and states around the country are still struggling to figure out how to effectively measure broader indications of school improvement than merely considering test scores.  Almost all student assessments were suspended in California schools last year due to field testing for new Common Core-aligned assessments.

Even with that enormous challenge, however, it is encouraging to see that the first two Parent Trigger schools saw significant student gains in CST science scores, the one test that was administered last year. Take for example, the comparison between the 24th Street / Crown Preparatory Academy scores in 2013 and 2014: 



Desert Trails Preparatory Academy also saw enormous gains in science. More students tested Advanced or Proficient in science that in anytime in the past 10 years*, including almost 4x as many as the year before. 



This data, while very limited in nature, also aligns with the parent survey data gathered at the end of last year, in which 91% of parents at Desert Trails Preparatory Academy and 83% of the parents at 24th Street Elementary said their schools had improved from the year before.

Kathy Duncan, parent of 2 Desert Trails Preparatory Students shared her satisfaction with the school’s transformation: As a parent, I am happy to send my child to DTPA. Everyone was happy the first day. I saw new faces that had never seen before. I would like to shine a light on [Desert Trails school leader] Ms. Debbie Tarver and her staff. My children, Jeremiah and Evelyn have had an exceptional time at DTPA."

It’s also crucial to note the significant gains for African American, Latino and low-income students, as those are the populations with whom we most closely work and partner with every day.

The three schools that underwent purely in-district reforms (in constrast to Desert Trails and 24th St / Crown Prep which are both operating as charter schools) – Haddon Elementary, Lennox Middle School, and Weigand Elementary – either stayed flat or saw a slight dip in student science performance data.  In addition to previous cited research showing that first year test score results are often sluggish even at successful turnarounds, Kutash et al explain that this may in fact be because “successful efforts at the school level must be supported by corresponding changes at the system level.”  Often, district-led turnarounds can take longer to show results. 

 After reading the data, Ben Austin, Executive Director of Parent Revolution noted: “What we see in the data is what we expected - we know that parent engagement leads to ongoing academic success, and that while rapid success is sometimes possible, the first years of turnarounds are notoriously challenging.  We are enthusiastic and optimistic about the efforts being made by educators, parents, and students to turnaround schools that have struggled for years to effectively serve their communities, and we must all hold ourselves accountable to producing real changes in the lives and learning of children.” 

It’s worth noting that measuring the long-term outcome across measures of both numeracy and literacy are crucial. We’re committed to using data and ensuring that parents have access to data that can help them decide what path to take as they work to turn around schools that are failing their children.

While this data doesn’t paint anything close to a complete picture, it’s promising. Chief Strategy Officer Gabe Rose explains, “We of course cannot draw conclusions based on one subject test during one year, but the emerging evidence at these schools gives us an abundance of hope that we are on the right track, and can’t wait to share all data we gather with parents as they organize to do what’s best for their kids.  We know from research that at best, only 25-30% of school turnaround efforts generally succeed, but we are confident that the consistent presence of organized and engaged parents will make our efforts substantially more successful.”

Yes, it matters to close the political power gap and to empower low-income parents of color. It’s not only the right thing to do, and it can, does, and will turn schools around so they work better for all kids - because all kids matter. 

*10 year science score data for Desert Trails Elementary Schools 


Parent Revolution transforms underperforming public schools by empowering parents to advocate for what is good for children, not adults, through grassroots community organizing.


Los Angeles, CA

 On Saturday, September 13th, 2014 over 80 Parents Union leaders gathered at West Athens Elementary for the first ever #ParentPower Issues Conference (PPIC). The PPIC addressed issues that are important to parents in the context of today’s public education environment.  Parent Revolution convened parent leaders from new and existing Parent Union Chapters to strategize around issues that affect our schools.

 The co-chairs of the conference were Lerina Cordero, leader from West Athens and Shannon Thomas Allen, Lennox School Board Member and founder of the Lennox Parents Union. They convened the conference and ratified the agenda and workshops for the day.  Workshops included:

  • The consequences of bullying and how to prevent it
  • Advocating for your special needs child
  •  How LCFF/LCAP funding priorities can help your school
  • English as a second language

  How to organize a Parent Union Chapter in your school and build power as parent leaders.

 Ruth Castillo, Principal of West Athens Elementary also joined the parents and talked to them about how excited she was to see so many engaged parents at her school coming together to put “kids first.”

The goal of the PPIC was to solidify our growing parent power base by providing leaders with the skills needed to grow their base and act as a powerful constituency of parents so that they can mobilize for positive change.  Click below to check out pictures from the event.

AuthorParent Revolution

Friday, September 19th

Parent Revolution Applauds Columbus School Board Announcement of Parent Trigger Schools

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                          

Los Angeles, CA  

Parent Revolution applauds the Columbus School Board’s public announcement of 20 Parent Trigger eligible schools in the district. While other districts around the nation haven’t been forthright, or have outright attempted to avoid their responsibilities under Parent Trigger legislation, the Columbus School Board is communicating with parents and community members about their democratic right to organize to improve failing schools.

Parent Trigger in Columbus Schools will give parents the ability to organize and demand changes that will improve their children’s schools. Additionally, parents, by engaging in the school transformation process, can keep the district accountable to student needs over the long term.

Ben Austin, Executive Director of Parent Revolution, issues the following statement about today’s action:

“We applaud the efforts in Columbus, Ohio to give parents real power to transform their children’s low performing schools through organizing.  We have discovered over the last four years that parent empowerment laws can make a real difference for students stuck in low-performing schools by finally giving a real voice to parents.  We have also learned that implementing these laws and turning around schools is never easy or quick.  Parents need to get organized and decide collectively what changes their children need, and the state needs to provide clear and workable rules of the road to help guide the process. 

 Just like in California, Connecticut, Tennessee, and every other state where parents have fought for change, we know there will be those in Ohio that are invested in keeping parent from having power instead of helping this law to work.  We stand with parents everywhere who are trying to use this important law to transform their neighborhood schools and improve opportunities for their children."


Parent Revolution transforms underperforming public schools by empowering parents to advocate for what is good for children, not adults, through grassroots community organizing.


AuthorParent Revolution

Los Angeles, CA

Earlier today, LA Unified Superintendent John Deasy and the leadership of the West Athens Elementary Parents Union (called the Aguilas de West Athens, or “AWA”) signed a groundbreaking Partnership Agreement aimed at transforming their school over the coming years. The negotiated Partnership Agreement is a first of its kind within LAUSD, where organized parents have successfully negotiated a number of important “kids first” reforms to be implemented at their school in the coming year.

The highlights of the West Athens Partnership Agreement include an investment of $300,000 in new staffing positions to improve school climate and student safety; a renewed focus on Common Core implementation and higher quality professional development for their teachers; and plans to significantly strengthen parent voice and parent power at the school over the coming year.

Parents and district officials spoke collectively about the collaborative process that brought about this agreement and their plans to transform the school in the coming years:

Winter Hall, one of the Steering Committee members of the Parents Union:

"We are not only celebrating that we are making some steps towards changing West Athens Elementary, but we are also celebrating the fact that despite what differences in opinion that we've had, whether it be with the school, district, parents, teachers... this proves that we are able to sit down, despite all of that, and have a dialogue... If we can't sit and talk...we are stuck."

"My hope is for West Athens is that it's not just an elementary school that is preparing students for middle school, but that it is an elementary school that starts to prep these children for college. That should be what we're thinking about here... And I hope that the collaboration between the school and parents and teachers continues. I don't want for us to... forget that we need each other."

LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy:

"I actually think this is a remarkable model. I was very humbled to have seen people work through difficult situations to lead forward on behalf of no one but youth. All our parents were right. It's not about going to middle school; it's about university. It's about being the next set of leaders in this community."

"I also want to thank the parent leadership, the parent union... and Parent Revolution for finding yet another way in LAUSD to be first about problem solving as opposed to blaming."

"I'm proud to sign this pledge, and this promise to sign to support the school. This is a beginning."

Cheryl Hildreth, Instructional Area Superintendent for LAUSD:

"Change doesn't come overnight. This process has shown... that it is dialogue, where people are talking to each other face to face with respect – that is what gets problems solved. I know that this process will continue because we have parents who are invested in the education of their children"

AWA, the Parents Union, was created by parents at the start of the school year out of frustration with years of low academic performance and serious concerns about school climate and safety for their children. The parents of AWA knew that they had they had California’s Parent Trigger law as a tool they could use, but, like other Parents Unions, wanted to first try working collaboratively with the district to achieve an improved school for their kids. And for the first time ever, LAUSD came to the table to negotiate with parents before they gathered a single Parent Trigger petition, just as they routinely do with powerful employee unions. It was this willingness to collaborate that helped bring about the deal that AWA parents and Superintendent John Deasy signed today.

“We are very pleased with the support we have received from the district,” said Lerina Corder, Coordinator of AWA. “They listened to our concerns and our objectives for the school, and they have been meaningful partners throughout the process. We have been working together to develop solutions, and by signing this agreement today, we are committing to continuing to do so.”

“This level of compromise and collaboration is the next wave of the parent power movement,” said Ben Austin, Executive Director of Parent Revolution, the non-profit that has been working with and supporting AWA.

“This is an example of parent power working, and the movement spreading. When you look back to Desert Trails, the district refused to work with the parents, and they had to petition for a charter school; and even at 24th Street Elementary, the parents had to engage in a full blown petition campaign before the district really came to the table as partners. At West Athens, it is clear that the district views parents as collaborators and valuable stakeholders in their children’s education. Parents and the district were able to strike a collaborative agreement that’s good for kids. It just shows how far this movement has come.”


Parent Revolution transforms underperforming public schools by empowering parents to advocate for what is good for children, not adults, through grassroots community organizing.

AuthorParent Revolution