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Stranger Than Fiction: Inner-City Parents Take Over School
posted by: Alix | December 10, 2010, 03:16 PM   

This week, an elementary school in Compton, California is receiving national attention after a group of parents banded together to force improvements at the failing institution. Yelling "yes we can!" and "si se puede!" a busload of parents on Tuesday became the first in California to try to force reforms at their children's school using a new law designed to help parents take back schools.

The population of low-income, minority parents shocked onlookers as they delivered a petition signed by 62 percent of guardians at McKinley Elementary School to Compton Unified Superintendent Karen Frison.

"Although we have not been given an opportunity to discuss the concerns of the school's parents, the district looks forward to addressing all concerns," Frison said in a statement.

The school is consistently ranked in the bottom 10 percent of California's elementary schools. With the petition in place, parents have the choice of outlining broad reforms, including converting the school into a charter, replacing the staff and principal, or shutting it down entirely. The group of parents in Compton has chosen conversion to a charter school.

This step is a landmark in the education and school reform movement. California was the first state to adopt a "parent-trigger law," which stipulates that a district must make radical changes at a school that has failed to meet progress benchmarks for four years when a minimum 51 percent of parents sign a petition for reform. California's law was adopted in January and inspired a similar law in Connecticut. Five other states, including Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey and West Virginia are now considering parent-triggers.

Although school choice advocates say this is a victory for the community, union leaders see it differently, claiming they were implementing some reforms already. "We've got something that appears to be working," said Frank Wells, Southern California representative for the CTA. "We would've preferred that the parents pushing this would've been more amenable to working with the teachers in the school."

Parent Ismenia Guzman, whose daughter attends McKinley, said: "Us parents, we care. I don't want our kids struggling in poor schools."

What do you think of these parent-trigger laws? Is this the beginning of a revolution?
Comment below.

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