MEDIA WATCH: Russo enraptured with California's 'Parent Trigger' while ignoring massive community opposition to closings and turnarounds in Chicago

Experienced Chicago teachers know it's best not to venture towards the pretentious bloggings of Alexander Russo at "" on a full stomach. For a long long long time, the Tribune's version of edublogging has morphed and twisted to the latest iteration of the Party Line of corporate "School Reform" with the deftness of a prima ballerina on point. But the recent blatherings about Parent Trigger in Los Angeles from Russo had to be fully appreciated in the Chicago context, so it's worth five minutes to note.

Latest rumblings from LA are big news for Chicago's corporate school reform blogger, while Chicago organizing gets ignored.The current fact is that for more than a year, the majority of organized Chicago parents from far north to southwest and southeast have known that CPS, bloated with out-of-town mercenaries out to privatize and destroy the city's public schools, are not friends of public schools. The handful who might from time to time turn out to speak publicly in favor of the latest twists in CPS policy usually turn out to be highly subsidized from the charter schools, corporate Chicago, or outfits like Stand for Children. As Rahm Emanuel's version of corporate school reform (Longer School Day; Paid Protesters; Preacher Patronage; Massive Privatization) became clear and Rahm's mercs like Brizard and Byrd Bennett (and their price tags supposedly during "budget crisis version 24.0 or so) were exposed, real Chicagoans got angry and organized. The Chicago Teachers Union worked with every legitimate group, and in the two years since Advance Illinois and Stand for Children pranced around Aurora as the legitimate "reform" reps, things changed radically in Chicago.

Hence, Russo has to go all the way to Los Angeles to find anything to cheer about in his latest wet dream for school reform -- "Parent Trigger." Far as we can see, there is only one other outfit in Chicago that periodically flirts with the "Parent Trigger," and even they are being careful. Especially in light of the looming closings which Barbara Byrd Bennett and her mercs are going to use to attack, once again, the Black Community.

District 299 on Parent Trigger:

Nearly 100 parents of students attending 24th St. Elementary dropped off a “parent trigger” petition yesterday at LAUSD’s headquarters, demanding drastic reforms and new governance for the school.

At LAUSD, the parents received a “strikingly” different reception than parents received in previous instances of the parent trigger, according to the LA Times‘ Teresa Watanabe.

And the reaction from LAUSD was strikingly different from the reaction from UTLA.

According to the AP’s Christina Hoag, ”The parents want the district to install new school leadership, an improved academic program with high expectations for students, and ensure a clean and safe school… If that doesn’t work, parents will move to convert the school into a charter.”

Around 68% of all parents have signed the petition, which was delivered to Superintendent John Deasy. CBS news has video of the hand-off.

The event was also captured on Twitter, which you can review here.

Some of the parents were frustrated at LAUSD for not having helped the school change quickly enough in the past two years, notes SCPR’s account of the event.

But Deasy welcomed the parents and discussed their frustrations and hopes during a meeting at the Board headquarters.

Superintendent Deasy listens to parents (via Parent Revolution)

“I had an outstanding meeting with parents when they came to the office,” Deasy told LA School Report shortly afterwards ”We listened and we talked, and we generally welcomed them. The way this works best is if we work together.”

“The parents were welcomed with open arms by John Deasy,” Parent Revolution Executive Director Ben Austin told the LA Weekly, in stark contrast to the reception parent groups met in Compton and Adelanto, where the last two trigger attempts were made (Compton failed, Adelanto succeeded).

The union’s reaction was different — conciliatory but also critical.

UTLA President Warren Fletcher showed up at the media event and, while critical of the trigger mechanism, appealed to parents to work collaboratively.

The LA Times story quotes him saying, “We wish to work with you. We wish to work as a team.”

According to AP, Fletcher told parents that “If any teacher has not been responsive, that has been a mistake.”

In a written statement, Fletcher continued in those same lines, noting that staff and resources paid for by a grant from the American Federation of Teachers would be assigned to satisfying the needs of 24th St. Elementary. (See full press release here.)

But he also took aim at the trigger idea, the potential loss of teachers’ jobs, and the dangers of charter schools. ”We understand [parents'] frustration, but we believe the answer is not to remove every teacher, and Health and Human Services professional, disrupting the education process… We believe parents do not want a private charter corporation to take over 24th Street Elementary.”

On its official Twitter account, the message was much less conciliatory:

The Parent Trigger is not the right tool for school reform. The end result will be that all faculty will be removed from the school.

— UTLA (@UTLAnow) January 17, 2013

Using the Parent Trigger to reform schools is like using an axe to perform complex surgery. As a blunt instrument it does not work.

— UTLA (@UTLAnow) January 17, 2013

Deasy will meet with parents again next week once he’s read the petition, which is apparently quite long, since it includes an in-depth plan for the school. In the meantime, his staff will verify the parents’ signatures.


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