Parent Trigger is welcome school reform

July 27, 2012

By Joseph Perkins 

California public schools received their annual report cards last month. On the state’s 10-point grading scale — with 10 being the highest and 1 the lowest — Desert Trails Elementary School earned a 1.

The parents of school children enrolled in Desert Trails almost certainly were not pleased. But they got good news this week when a San Bernardino County Superior Court judge approved their takeover of the failing public school.

Unde rCalifornia’s first-in-the-nation “parent trigger” law, enacted in 2010 over the predictable objections of the state’s teachers’ unions, parents are empowered to take the lead in reforming the worst of the worst state schools.

The Desert Trails Parents Union — gotta love the group’s name which, no doubt, the teachers union finds un-amusing — exercised the trigger earlier this year when a majority of parents with kids in the school signed a petition, as required by the new state law, seeking to convert their children’s elementary school to a charter school.

Officials for the Adelanto School District, which oversees Desert Trails, refused to accept the petition, on the specious grounds that several parents had changed their minds. But Judge Steve Malone rejected the school district’s claim and upheld the parents’ petition.

He ordered the district to immediately solicit proposals from charter school operators to take over operations at Desert Trails.

Now, I will not go so far as to suggest that Judge Malone’s ruling will have as far reaching an effect as, say, the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown vs. Board of Education.

Nor am I persuaded that students mired in California’s worst-performing public schools, like Desert Trails Elementary, will benefit as much from the parent trigger as from school vouchers.

Nevertheless, as school reform goes, California’s parent trigger law is a pretty big deal.

That’s because parents now have a club they can wield when schools, like Desert Trails, fail to properly educate their children. Principals and teachers at under-performing schools are now on notice that, if they don’t get their act together, parents just might pursue a hostile takeover.

Adelanto School Board President Carlos Mendoza said he will urge his board to appeal Judge Malone’s decision. It’s not that he opposes the conversion of Desert Trails Elementary to a charter school, he said. It’s just that he wants school board “input” in the choice of charter operator.

Well, what good is a parent trigger if school boards have de facto veto power over decisions parents make?

If Mendoza and his fellow school board members want to maintain their absolute control over Desert Springs, or other schools within their district, all they have to do is make sure those schools do not sink to a level of academic performance that parents are entitled by state law to invoke the trigger.


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  1. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 27 July, 2012, 10:44

    Poodle’s grade school?

    Reply this comment
  2. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 27 July, 2012, 12:16

    My grade school, but your pic Teddy 😉

    Reply this comment
  3. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 27 July, 2012, 12:32

    Poodle down deep is a good guy!

    Reply this comment
  4. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 27 July, 2012, 13:05

    Rotti os a GREAT GUY 🙂

    Reply this comment

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