Emanuel supports controversial 'Parent Trigger' based on California model

Chicago mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel has already told the media that he supports the introduction in Chicago of a controversial "Parent Trigger" law like the one that is causing upheaval in December 2010 in Compton California. The "Parent Trigger" law allows parents to sign a petition to turn so-called "failing" schools into charter schools or to have them subjected to "turnaround."

Chicago mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel (right) cheers for UNO on November 16, 2010 at the UNO anniversary event, sponsored and funded by corporate Chicago. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.In an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times published on November 16, 2010, Emanuel laid out his bare bones plans for public education, including the "Parent Trigger" idea. It is one of the many neoliberal programs — all virtually the same in the fact that they are overfunded and unproven — that Emanual is pushing, direct from Washington, D.C.

There are many things that are factually untrue in the following Sun-Times report. Especially inaccurate is the claim that Dodge was Chicago's first "turnaround" school. It wasn't. "Turnaround" wasn't even used in 2002 when Arne Duncan falsely attacked Dodge as a "failure" to clear the way for gentrification west of the Chicago Stadium. Dodge was one of the first three schools to face a "renaissance" — small "s" two years before the official unveiling of "Renaissance 2010" by Mayor Richard M. Daley. Dodge was also taken over by AUSL at that time, and given more than a million dollars in renovation money to glitz up the place following decades of neglect. When Dodge reopened following a year of "renaissance" planning, half the former students (poor children from the West Side) had been replaced with new arrivals who could afford the $200,000 townhouses that were being build in the Chicago Stadium development area.


"...rival candidate Rahm Emanuel unveiled his own plan to empower parents and encourage parental involvement in local schools," the Sun-Times reported. "It calls for giving parents a “report card” that grades their child’s school and arms parents with the information they need to push for higher standards.

"The report card would be a simplified version of the evaluation form distributed to principals — with letter grades for everything from school safety, student and staff attendance to graduation rates and entry into post-secondary education.

"Emanuel is also proposing extraordinary new powers for parents whose children are stuck in “chronically failing” schools that don’t measure up for three straight years.

"Parents in those schools would have six months to conduct a petition drive to gather signatures from a majority of parents.

"If the 51 percent benchmark is reached, they would be empowered to work with the local school council to choose from a variety of options. They include turning the school into a charter school or “teacher excellence academy,” transforming the school into a “turnaround school” by dismissing the staff and starting over or by closing it down.

"The so-called “parental trigger” is patterned after a statewide plan already in place in California and under consideration in Connecticut. Chicago would be the first major city to adopt the idea.

“We would follow the direction of those parents. That, to me, is enticing local involvement,” said Emanuel, who unveiled the first piece of his education plan at Dodge Renaissance Academy, 2651 W. Washington.

“I can’t want and ask for parental involvement if I’m not doing things to encourage it.”

Dodge was Chicago’s first “turnaround” school. It’s also the place where President Obama appointed then-Chicago Schools CEO Arne Duncan as U.S. Education secretary.


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