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PARENT REVOLUTION?
Published on Sep 16, 2011Email To Friend    Print Version


I’m all for putting leadership and teachers on notice. But I’m also looking to put parents on notice, and helping this latter group understand there’s so much more to gaining quality education for minority children than canceling contracts and firing leadership.

Parent Revolution claims to call for increasing parental authority over public education. But as a longtime advocate of parents taking active roles in education both at home and at school, I find this organization’s message to be a fraudulent promissory note, asking parents to believe that — when the  note is cashed with the parents’ signature — Julio and Jamal will learn to read.

Parent Revolution recently has been active at Muir High School and Jefferson Elementary in Pasadena. It is painful to witness this organization prey upon the hopes and dreams of minority parents who, in their desperation for academic success, unwittingly align themselves with people who are no more than — as it was termed back in the ‘60s — “lackeys for the power structure.”

Parent Revolution? Not really. The organization was founded by a group of charter school operators led by Green Dot Public Schools, which already operates several schools in Los Angeles. Green Dot’s founder, Steve Barr, also served as chairman of Parent Revolution’s board of directors.

Recently Ben Austin, chief executive of Parent Revolution, offered an interview to the Silicon Valley Education Foundation newsletter that raises questions about how parents are being used by Parent Revolution, and for what purpose. “It has more to do with giving parents leverage to bargain,” Austin said. “The reality is that when parents have organized 50% of the parents in the school, they do have the ability to sit at the table and look the leadership in the eye and say, ‘For all intents and purposes we have the ability to fire you,’ and to look at the teachers and say, ‘We have the ability to cancel your contracts.’”

I’m all for putting leadership and teachers on notice. But I’m also looking to put parents on notice, and helping this latter group understand there’s so much more to gaining quality education for minority children than canceling contracts and firing leadership.

I first met a Parent Revolution staff member at a private home back in April. The group’s first public appearance in the Pasadena area took place soon after that, with the showing of the movie, “Waiting for Superman,” followed by a question-and-answer period.

How could the group help parents? Well, the staff person spoke briefly about cafeteria food. It seemed this was mild enough for parents who might, at first, be apprehensive about firing an administrator, canceling a contract or bringing in a charter school.

I next met up with the well-financed organization in Sacramento, where it shuttled a busload of wishful parents, wearing Parent Revolution T-shirts, to testify before the State Board of Education.

With funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Wasserman Foundation, the Eli and Edyth Broad Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation, Parent Revolution has more than enough dinero to keep up the rhetoric and the supporting antics. But that obscures real educational issues and keeps their followers from asking about the group’s real agenda, which unfortunately is all about charter schools, and not about Julio and Jamal or their sisters and brothers ever becoming educated.


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