Parent Power Handbook

Welcome to the Parent Revolution where our mission is to transform public education rooted in what’s good for kids — not powerful interests — by empowering parents to transform their own children’s low-performing schools through community organizing.

Since January 2009, Parent Revolution has been at the forefront of the parent empowerment movement, organizing thousands of parents across California to take back our schools and ensure that all kids have access to a quality public education. From the passage of the Parent Trigger in California – the historic right to organize for parents trapped in failing schools – to the establishment of Parents Unions that work closely with administrators and teachers to ensure that all children receive a great public education, we work with parents across California and the nation to ensure they have power over their children’s educational destiny.

As we all know, parents can’t wait for pilot programs or half measures – our children get older every single year, and we only get one chance to give them the education they need for the future they deserve. This Parent Power Handbook is a guide to your rights as a parent in California.

Read this handbook and become familiar with these rights. They are your rights and we are here to help you exercise them.

Best,

Ben Austin
Executive Director
Parent Revolution
(213)621-3052
www.parentrevolution.org

Our Theory of Change

Parent Revolution believes that many of our schools are failing because they aren’t designed to succeed – they are designed to serve the interests of powerful adults, not children. We believe the only way to truly transform public education is to make every decision in public education based on what is best for children, not adults; to make each and every decision as if it would literally affect someone’s own child. While everyone on all sides cares about kids, the only way to transform public education is to give more power to parents, because parents have different incentive structures and a different sense of urging than everyone else.

We believe that a kids-first agenda has a few common sense core elements:

Accountability: All adults – principals, teachers, administrators and parents– must be held accountable for student performance. We must create fair, effective evaluation systems so that the best teachers and principals can be recognized and learned from; those needing improvement can be targeted with effective professional development; and those who cannot improve can be swiftly and fairly removed.

More money in the classroom: We must drive more dollars into our classrooms for our teachers and students, and waste less of it in huge downtown bureaucracies. We must fully fund education, but we will never convince voters and taxpayers to provide additional funding until districts prove they are capable of effectively using their existing dollars to educate our children.

More Parent Power: Children should never be trapped in a failing school because of the zip code they were born in. Parents should have choices and access to high-quality public schools – either district or charter schools – and should be fully educated about those options. And they must have the ability not just to escape a broken school, but to stay and transform it, as California’s Parent Trigger empowers them to do.

Pro-Union, Kids-First Reform: Parent Revolution believes that parents and teachers can work together on completely overhauling the way teachers are managed and evaluated in public education for one simple reason: you cannot have a great school without great teachers. Parent Revolution wants teachers to be paid higher wages in order to reward their hard work and attract top talent into the profession. Parents want teachers to be respected and freed to teach how they see fit, not micromanaged by some central bureaucrat who has never met their students or set foot in their classroom. But parents also want teachers to be held accountable for how well their students are taught and evaluated based at least in part on how much their students are learning. We can and should use a broad array of tools to evaluate our teachers that track student learning over time as well as peer, principal, and parent evaluations. We need to start treating teachers like the professionals they are, rather than the interchangeable widgets our current systems pretend they are.

While we must make every decision about our schools based on what is good for children, not adults, we believe that a kids-first agenda can and must ultimately go hand in hand with a pro-union agenda. Every day, we are seeing more and more examples around the country of teachers unions signing contracts that serve both kids and teachers. 


History in Motion

January 19, 2009
On the day of Obama’s inauguration, the Parent Revolution launches, based on the simple premise that education should be about children, not adults. Thousands of parents, from every corner of Los Angeles, join the Revolution, demanding change at their children’s failing schools.

May 1, 2009
8 months prior to the passage of the Parent Trigger, Parent Revolution releases a YouTube video encouraging parents to organize more than 50% of their school to sign a petition and then fight for change at their local schools.

August 25, 2009
Parent Revolution organizes a massive, successful grassroots campaign to help pass the LAUSD Public School Choice Resolution, which for the first time ever, takes away the LAUSD’s monopoly to run failing schools forever without consequence.

January 7, 2010
Parent Revolution conceives of the Parent Trigger idea, collaborates with former Senator Gloria Romero to sponsor legislation, and organizes a second successful grassroots campaign to pass the Parent Trigger through the California State Legislature. Passed by just one vote in both the Assembly and State Senate, the Parent Trigger empowers parents at any failing school in California to transform their school simply through community organizing.

March 29, 2010
Along with fellow reform-minded educational leaders, Parent Revolution’s Executive Director Ben Austin is selected to be a member of the State Board of Education where he votes for measures to increase accountability for both teachers and charter school operators, as well as other kid-first reforms for our schools.

December 7, 2010
A brave group of McKinley Elementary School parents turn in the historic first Parent Trigger petition to Compton Unified with signatures representing over 61% of students. In it, they demand that McKinley, where students were 50 times more likely to drop out than to go to college, be turned over to a high-performing charter school operator that works in similar communities.

January 3, 2011
Less than one month after Parent Revolution assists McKinley Elementary parents, our Executive Director, Ben Austin, is removed from the State Board of Education along with a number of progressive, reform-minded board members. They are replaced with new members that include a paid lobbyist for the California Teachers Association (CTA).

February 9, 2011
At the first meeting of the newly appointed State Board of Education to consider regulations for the Parent Trigger law, over 50 parents from Los Angeles take a 6-hour, overnight bus to the board meeting. Superintendent Torlakson declares that it is impossible to write regulations on the Parent Trigger and says that new “clean up” legislation will be needed. Seeing this as a thinly veiled challenge to the law itself, Parent Revolution launches the defense of Parent Trigger.

March 2011
Parents start to organize in schools across California to develop Parents Unions and increase parent power.

March 9, 2011
After dozens of newspaper editorials demanding that the Parent Trigger law remains intact, over a hundred parents from across Los Angeles board an overnight bus to ensure that regulations protect parents.

March 22, 2011
After Compton Unified imposed an onerous signature verification process that disempowered McKinley parents, Judge Mohr of the LA Superior Court rules that Parent Trigger is a Constitutionally protected right for all parents in California. From the collection of signatures until their verification, parents organizing Parent Trigger petition campaigns are now officially protected by the First Amendment to the US constitution.

April 21, 2011
The California Teachers Association attempt to insert a “Teacher Veto” as the newest trick to take away power from parents in the State Board regulations. Parents speak out against this provision but it is included In the draft for the public comment at the behest of CTA’s paid lobbyist/State Board of Education Board member.

May – July, 2011
School based Parents Union Chapters form throughout the Los Angeles area and parents in other parts of California begin to organize independently along the ‘Parents Union’ model.

August 3, 2011
The American Federation of Teachers’ secret plot to “kill” Parent Trigger in other states is accidentally released. This 19-slide PowerPoint goes through a step-by-step process of how to stop grassroots groups of parents from passing Parent Trigger legislation.

August 3, 2011
AFT President Randi Weingarten apologizes and agrees to meet with parent unions directly affected.

September 7, 2011
The first day of school for students at the new charter school that opens two blocks from McKinley Elementary. Students from across Compton enroll as a result of the work of McKinley Parents for Change. The State Board of Education, a year after beginning the regulations process, unanimously pass final implementing regulations that put kids first and give guidance to districts.

September 13-14, 2011
Parents from across California complete a successful 9-stop, 2-day bus trip that earns national media coverage and highlights parent organizing statewide by Parent Revolution and other organizations committed to grassroots parent empowerment.

The Parent Trigger Law

[Approved by Governor January 7, 2010. Filed with Secretary of State January 7, 2010.]

California Education Code Sections 53300–53303 53300. For any school not identified as a persistently lowest-achieving school under Section 53201 which, after one full school year, is subject to corrective action pursuant to paragraph(7) of Section 1116(b) of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (20 U.S.C. Sec. 6301 et seq.) and continues to fail to make adequate yearly progress, and has an Academic Performance Index score of less than 800, and where at least one-half of the parents or legal guardians of pupils attending the school, or a combination of at least one-half of the parents or legal guardians of pupils attending the school and the elementary or middle schools that normally matriculate into a middle or high school, as applicable, sign a petition requesting the local educational agency to implement one or more of the four interventions identified pursuant to paragraphs (1) to (4), inclusive of subdivision (a) of Section 53202or the federally mandated alternative governance arrangement pursuant to Section 1116(b)(8)(B)(v) of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (20 U.S.C. Sec. 6301 et seq.), the local educational agency shall implement the option requested by the parents unless, in a regularly scheduled public hearing, the local educational agency makes a finding in writing stating the reason it cannot implement the specific recommended option and instead designates in writing which of the other options described in this section it will implement in the subsequent school year consistent with requirements specified in federal regulations and guidelines for schools subject to restructuring under Section 1116(b)(8) of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (20 U.S.C. Sec. 6301 et seq.) and regulations and guidelines for the four interventions.

53301. (a) The local educational agency shall notify the Superintendent and the state board upon receipt of a petition under Section 53300 and upon its final disposition of that petition.

(b) If the local educational agency indicates in writing that it will implement in the upcoming school year a different alternative governance arrangement than requested by the parents, the local educational agency shall notify the Superintendent and the state board that the alternative governance option selected has substantial promise of enabling the school to make adequate yearly progress as defined in the federally mandated state plan under Section 1111(b)(2) of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (20 U.S.C. Sec. 6301 et seq.).

53302. No more than 75 schools shall be subject to a petition authorized by this article.

(b) A petition shall be counted toward this limit upon the Superintendent and state board receiving notice from the local educational agency of its final disposition of the petition.

53303. A local educational agency shall not be required to implement the option requested by the parent petition if the request is for reasons other than improving academic achievement or pupil safety.

ABC’s of The Parent Trigger law

The Parent Trigger is an historic new law that gives parents in California the right to force a transformation of their child’s current or future failing school. If parents organize, and if 50% of them come together and sign an official Parent Trigger petition, they have the power to force their school district to transform their school. Note that Parent Revolution strongly recommends that parents organize much more than 50% support for these transformations.

What would Transformation look like?

When President Obama came to office, he laid out several ways for a low-performing school to be transformed into a great one. The Parent Trigger empowers parents to use one of the options laid out by Pres. Obama including:

Bargaining power

If parents want changes that are not possible within the context of the existing transformation options, they can organize and then use the power of submitting a petition for one of the other options as bargaining power to get the changes they need.

Turnaround

If parents want big changes but want to leave the school district in charge, this option may be for them. It forces the school district to push the reset button by bringing in a new staff and new leadership.

Transformation

It forces the school district to find a new principal, and make a few other changes.

Charter conversion

If there is a nearby, non-profit charter school that is outperforming your child’s failing school, parents can bring in that charter school to transform the failing school. The school will then be run by that charter school, not the school district, but it will continue to serve all the same students that have always attended the school. Parent Revolution recommends that parents be very selective and choose the highest quality charter schools when exercising this option.

Closure

This option would close the school altogether and send the students to other, higher-performing schools nearby. Parent Revolution does NOT recommend this option to parents – we believe schools must be transformed, not closed.

Highlights of Parent Trigger Regulations

An abridged version of the Parent Trigger regulations, that parents fought hard to win and which we believe are a fair and impartial guide to the law, are reprinted later in this handbook. Here are some highlights of the most important ways that the Parent Trigger regulations protect you, in plain English:

  • They ban harassment and intimidation of parents organizing around Parent Trigger, and they ban the use of school resources to campaign for or against Parent Trigger:
  • They create a model petition, so that no future Parent Trigger petition will ever be thrown out due to a technicality;
  • They provide every parent at all 1300 Parent Trigger eligible schools in California with notice about the law and their rights under the law;
  • They create common sense signature verification procedures and timelines, and mandate that no legitimate signature shall ever be thrown out based on a technicality;
  • They empower parents to choose their charter or in-district reform partner through a transparent and public parent-led RFP process after the parents have won the organizing campaign, and;
  • They reject CTA's outrageous proposal that teachers be given veto power over Parent Trigger. 

Excerpts of Parent Trigger regulations

§ 4800. Intent.
The Parent Empowerment law shall remain valid in the event of changes to federal law referenced within the legislative language of Chapters 2 and 3 of the 5th Extraordinary Session Statutes of 2010, to the extent allowable under the law.

§ 4800.3. Requirement to Serve All Pupils.
Every pupil that attended a subject school prior to the implementation of an intervention shall continue to be enrolled in the school during and after an intervention is implemented pursuant to Education Code section 53300, unless the parent or legal guardian of the pupil chooses to enroll the pupil in another school or the school is closed. In addition, any pupil who resides in the attendance area of the subject school during or after the implementation of an intervention has a right to attend the school, subject to any laws or rules pertaining to enrollment.

§ 4800.5. Parental Notice.
(a) The CDE shall create a website for parents and guardians to obtain further information on circulating a parent empowerment petition.
(b) An LEA may create a website that lists the schools in the LEA subject to the provisions of the Parent Empowerment law, including enrollment data and attendance boundaries for each school. The web site may also inform parents and legal guardians of pupils how they may:
(1) Sign a petition requesting the school district to implement one or more interventions to improve the school, and

(2) Contact community-based organizations or work with individual school administrators and parent and community leaders to understand the school intervention options and provide input about the best options for the school.

(c) …the LEA shall provide the parents and guardians of all pupils enrolled in a school in restructuring planning or restructuring status with notice that the school may be eligible for a parent empowerment petition to request a specific intervention pursuant to Education Code section 53300 and shall list the CDE website address created pursuant to section 4800.5(a). This notice, and any other written communication from the school or the LEA to parents or legal guardians of pupils, must meet the language requirements of Education Code section 48985.

§ 4801. Petition Signatures.
(a) A petition shall contain signatures of parents or legal guardians of pupils attending the subject school, or may contain a combination of signatures of parents and legal guardians of pupils attending the subject school and signatures of parents or legal guardians of pupils attending the matriculating schools. A petition may not consist solely of signatures of parents or legal guardians of pupils attending the matriculating schools.
(b)Only one parent or legal guardian per pupil may sign a petition.
(c)The petition must have boxes that are consecutively numbered commencing with number 1, with sufficient space for the signature of each petition signer as well as his or her printed name, date, pupil’s name, the pupil’s date of birth, the name of the school the pupil is currently attending, and the pupil’s current grade.
The boxes described in subdivision (c) may also have space for the signer’s address, city or unincorporated community name, and zip code, or request other information, and if so, the petition shall make clear that providing such information is voluntary, and cannot be made a condition of signing the petition.
(e) A petition may be signed by a parent or a legal guardian once for each of his or her pupils attending the subject school or, if the petition contains a combination of signatures of parents or legal guardians of pupils attending the subject school and the elementary or middle schools that normally matriculate into a subject middle or high school, once for each of his or her pupils attending the subject school and the elementary or middle schools that normally matriculate into the subject middle or high school. Separate petition boxes must be completed by the parent or legal guardian for each of his or her pupils.
(f) A petition may be circulated and presented in sections, so long as each section complies with the requirements set forth in this section and section 4802 regarding the content of the petition.
(g)Signature gatherers may not offer gifts, rewards, or tangible incentives to parents or legal guardians to sign a petition. Nor shall signature gatherers make any threats of coercive action, false statements or false promises of benefits to parents or legal guardians in order to persuade them to sign a petition, except that signature gatherers, school site staff or other members of the public may discuss education related improvements hoped to be realized by implementing any intervention described in these regulations. Signature gatherers, students, school site staff, LEA staff, members of the community and parents and legal guardians of eligible pupils shall be free from harassment, threats, and intimidation related to circulation or signature of a petition, or to the discouraging of signing a petition or to the revocation of signatures from the petition.] Signature gatherers shall disclose if they are being paid, and shall not be paid per signature.
(h): All parties involved in the signature gathering process shall adhere to all school site hours of operation, school and LEA safety policies, and visitor sign in procedures.]
(i): School or district resources shall not be used to impede the signature gathering process pursuant to this section.]

§ 4802. Content of the Petition.
The petition and each section of the petition shall contain the following elements:
(a) A heading which states that it is a Petition of Parents, Legal Guardians, and Persons Holding the Right to Make Educational Decisions for Pupils, Including Foster Parents who hold rights to make educational decisions to request an Intervention be implemented at the specified subject school and to be submitted to a specified LEA;
(b) A statement that the petition seeks the signatures of the parents or legal guardians of the pupils attending the subject school or, in the alternative, the signatures of the parents or legal guardians of the pupils attending the subject school and the signatures of the parents or legal guardians of the pupils attending elementary or middle schools who would normally matriculate into the subject school;
(c) The name and public contact information of the person to be contacted by either persons interested in the petition or by the LEA;
(d)(c) Identification of the requested intervention;
(e)(d) A description of the requested intervention using the language set forth in either sections 4803, 4804, 4805, 4806, or 4807, without omission to ensure full disclosure of the impact of the intervention;
(f) The name of the subject school;
(g) Boxes as designated in section 4801(d) and (e);
(h) An affirmation that the signing parent or legal guardian is requesting the LEA to implement the identified intervention at the subject school; and (i) A request to an LEA to implement the restart model intervention identified pursuant to paragraph (2) of subdivision (a) of Education Code section 53202 may also request that the subject school be reopened under a specific charter school operator, charter management organization or education management organization and, if so, that information must be clearly stated on the front page of the petition including contact information of the charter school operator, charter management organization or education management organization.

(j) The names of any agencies or organizations that are supporting the petition, either through direct financial assistance or in-kind contributions of staff and volunteer support, must be prominently displayed on the front page of the petition.
(k) The CDE shall develop a sample petition that can be used by interested petitioners. The sample petition shall be available on the CDE website for interested petitioners to use. The CDE shall make the sample petition available in other languages pursuant to Education Code section 48985. Petitioners shall not be required to use the sample petition however alternate petitions must contain all required components pursuant to statutory and regulatory requirements.

§4802.05: Submission of Petition.
(a) Petitioners may not submit a petition until they reach or exceed the 50 percent threshold based on accurate and current enrollment data provided by the LEA. The date of submission of the petition shall be the start date for implementation of all statutory and regulatory requirements.
(b) An exception shall be made for a one-time resubmission opportunity to correct a petition based on errors identified by the LEA, verify signatures after a good faith effort is made by the LEA to do so first, or submit additional signatures. The start date for a resubmitted petition shall be the date it is resubmitted. No rolling petitions shall be accepted by the LEA.
(c) At the time of submission the petitioners shall submit a separate document that identifies at least one but no more than five lead petitioners with their contact information.
(d) The role of lead petitioners is to assist and facilitate communication between the parents who have signed the petition and the LEA. The lead petitioner contacts shall not be authorized to make decisions for the petitioners or negotiate on behalf of the parents.]

§ 4802.1. Verification of Petition Signatures and Obligations of the LEA.
(a) An LEA must provide, in writing, to any persons who request it, information as to how the LEA intends to implement section 4800.1(g) as to any subject school and any normally matriculating elementary or middle schools, including providing enrollment data and the number of signatures that would be required pursuant to section 4802.1(e).
(b) Upon receipt of the petition, the LEA may make reasonable efforts to verify that the signatures on the petition can be counted consistent with these regulations. The LEA and matriculating LEAs shall use common verification documents that contain parent or guardian signatures to verify petition signatures such as emergency verification cards signed by all parents or guardians. In order to verify the enrollment of a pupil in a school that normally matriculates into the subject school, but is not within the jurisdiction of the LEA, an LEA may contact the school or the LEA of the school. The matriculating LEA or school shall be required to provide information necessary to the subject school and LEA in order to assist in verifying signatures. An LEA shall not invalidate the signature of a parent or legal guardian of an eligible pupil on a minor technicality assuming the parent or legal guardian is entitled to sign it The LEA and the matriculating LEA or school shall make a good faith effort to contact parents or guardians when a signature is not clearly identifiable including phone calls to the parent or guardian.
(c) If, on the date the petition is submitted, a school is identified pursuant to section 4800.1(k), it shall remain a subject school until final disposition of the petition by the LEA even if it thereafter ceases to meet the definition of a subject school unless that school has exited federal Program Improvement and is at or over 800 on the Academic Performance Index.

(f) In connection with the petition, the LEA may only contact parents or legal guardians to verify eligible signatures on the petition. The identified lead petitioners for the petition shall be consulted to assist in contacting parents or legal guardians when the LEA fails to reach a parent or legal guardian.
(g) Upon receipt, the LEA may, within 40 calendar days, return the petition to the person designated as the contact person or persons as specified in section 4802(c), if the LEA determines any of the following:
(1) One half of the parents or legal guardians of pupils meeting the requirements of section 4801(a) have not signed the petition;
(2) The school named in the petition is not a subject school; or
(3) The petition does not substantially meet the requirements specified in section 4802. In such a case, the LEA shall immediately provide the contact person written notice of its reasons for returning the petition and its supporting findings.
(h) If the LEA finds that sufficient signatures cannot be verified by the LEA they shall immediately notify the lead petitioner contacts and provide the lead petitioner the names of those parents and legal guardians they cannot verify. The lead petitioner contacts shall be provided 60 calendar days to assist the LEA to verify the signatures. A number of methods may be used including but not limited to an official notarization process or having the parent or guardian appear at the school or district office.
(i) If the LEA finds a discrepancy or problem with a submitted petition they shall notify the lead petition contacts in writing and request assistance and clarification prior to the final disposition of the petition. The LEA shall identify which signatures need verification, any errors found in the petition or need for further clarification regarding the petition.
(j)If the petition is returned pursuant to section 4802.1(g)(1), the same petition may be resubmitted to the LEA with verified signatures as long as no substantive changes are made to the petition. The petitioners shall be provided one resubmission opportunity which must be completed within a window of 60 calendar days after the return of the petition pursuant to 4802.1. This is the same window for verification of signatures and any corrections or additional signatures submitted. The LEA shall have 25 calendar days to verify the resubmitted signatures, additional signatures or corrections to the petition. The resubmitted petition may not contain substantive changes or amendments. If substantive changes are made to the petition, it must be recirculated for signatures before it may be submitted to the LEA and it shall be deemed a new petition.
(k)If the LEA does not return the petition the LEA shall have 45 business calendar days from the date the petition is received to reach a final disposition. The date may be extended by an additional 250 days if the LEA and the person listed in section 4802(c) agree to the extension in writing.
(l) The LEA shall notify the SSPI and the SBE in writing within fifteen calendar days of its receipt of a petition and within five calendar days of the final disposition of the petition. The notice of final disposition shall state that the LEA will implement the recommended option or include the written finding stating the reason it cannot implement the specific recommended option, designating which of the other options it will implement and stating that the alternative option selected has substantial promise of enabling the school to make adequate yearly progress.

§ 4802.2. Restart Requirements for Parent Empowerment Petitions.
(a) Except where specifically designated in this section, a charter school proposal submitted through a parent empowerment petition, shall be subject to all the provisions of law that apply to other charter schools.
(b) Parents or legal guardians of pupils will only need to sign the parent empowerment petition to indicate their support for and willingness to enroll their children in the requested charter school. A separate petition for the establishment of a charter school will not need to be signed. The signatures to establish a charter school pursuant to Education Code sections 47605(a)(1) through (3) and 47605(b)(3) will not be required if the petition that requests that the subject school be reopened under a charter operator, charter management organization or education management organization otherwise meets all the requirements of Education Code section 53300.
(c) A petition that requests that the subject school be reopened under a specific charter school operator, charter management organization or education management organization may be circulated for signature with the proposed charter for the school. Upon receipt of the petition that requests a restart model as intervention and that includes a charter petition, the LEA must follow the provisions of section 4802.1 and determine whether it will implement the requested intervention options in Education Code section 53300. If a petition requests that the subject school be operated under a specific charter school operator, charter management organization or education management organization, and the LEA does not reject the petition pursuant to Section 4802.1(g) then the rigorous review process required by Education Code section 53300 and section 4804 shall be the review process and timelines set forth in Education Code section 47605(b), excepting 47605(b)(3).
(d) If a parent empowerment petition does not include the proposed charter but requests that the subject school be operated under a charter school operator, charter management organization or education management organization, and the LEA does not reject the petition pursuant to section 4802.1(g), then the LEA shall promptly notify the petitioners that it has adopted the restart model and give the petitioners the option to solicit charter proposals from charter school operators, charter management organizations and education management organizations and select a specific charter school operator or decline to do so.
(1) If the petitioners opt to solicit charter proposals and select a specific charter school operator, they must submit the proposed charter school operator to the LEA within 90 calendar days. Upon submittal of the charter proposal, the LEA shall conduct the rigorous review process required by Education Code section 53300 and section 4804, which shall be the review process and timelines set forth in Education Code section 47605(b) excepting 47605(b)(3).
(2) If the petitioners inform the LEA that they have declined the option to solicit charter proposals and select a charter school operator, the LEA shall, within 20 calendar days, solicit charter proposals from charter school operators, charter management organizations and education management organizations.

(e) If the parents petition for a restart option to operate the school under an educational management organization that is not a charter school, the LEA shall work in good faith to implement a contract with a provider selected by the parents. In the absence of parent selection of a specific provider, the LEA shall immediately solicit proposals from educational management organizations, and shall select an education management organization, through the rigorous review process required by Education Code section 53300 and section 4804 unless the LEA is unable to implement the option requested by the parents and shall implement one of the other options specified in Education Code section 53300. ]

§ 4803. Description of Intervention – Turnaround Model.
(a) A turnaround model is one in which an (LEA) must:
(1) Replace the principal and grant the principal sufficient operational flexibility (including in staffing, calendars/time, and budgeting) to implement fully a comprehensive approach in order to substantially improve student achievement outcomes and increase high school graduation rates;
(2) Using locally adopted competencies to measure the effectiveness of staff who can work within the turnaround environment to meet the needs of students;
(A) Screen all existing staff and rehire no more than 50 percent; and
(B) Select new staff;

§ 4804. Description of Intervention – Restart Model.
A restart model is one in which an (LEA) converts a school or closes and reopens a school under a charter school operator, a charter management organization (CMO), or an education management organization (EMO) that has been selected through a rigorous review process.

§ 4806. Description of Intervention – Transformation Model.

(1) Required activities. The LEA must:
(A) Replace the principal who led the school prior to commencement of the transformation model;
(B) Use rigorous, transparent, and equitable evaluation systems for teachers and principals that:
1. Take into account data on student growth … as a significant factor as well as other factors such as multiple observation-based assessments of performance and ongoing collections of professional practice reflective of student achievement and increased high-school graduations rates;
…  

How do I get started?

We believe that community organizing among parents combined with real power that comes from the Parent Trigger law can have a transformative impact on schools and communities. As parents begin to organize in their neighborhoods, we encourage them to use our Parents Union Chapter organizing model.

Using many of the same proven strategies from the Obama Presidential campaign and the United Farm Workers under Cesar Chavez, this approach gives parents real power to transform their underperforming public schools.

Parents Union Chapters must meet a number of requirements in order to be most effective. They include forming a strong 5-10 parent leadership team (the Steering Committee), building the membership to include, at a minimum, 10-20 additional parents, and signing agreements that they will be action-oriented and make all decisions based on what is best for children. Each chapter must also draft “action plans” detailing how they will work together to accomplish achievable tasks that strengthen their parent organization and change the school. Those action plans can include using the Parent Trigger to engage a majority of parents at the school to either directly pursue one of the options allowed for under the law, or to utilize the law to give parents bargaining power to negotiate for a wide variety of research-based in-district reforms.

Step 1: Build Your Base

Begin by having conversations with other parents about the changes they would like to see at your school. We suggest scheduling one-to-one conversations and hosting house meetings with people you already know – friends, family, and neighbors who are also parents at your school. Talk about the problems you have faced at your school in the past and the hopes that you have for your school and community. What would an ideal school like? What are the barriers to creating that environment? After your one-to-one conversations and house meetings, ask the attendees to host their own house meetings and to invite their network of friends and neighbors to learn about starting a Parents Union chapter.

Step 2: Establish Your Chapter

During your one-to-one conversations and house meetings, try to identify parents who demonstrate an extra level of interest and would be able to serve in the chapter’s leadership committee. Most people who want to help don’t want to go to a lot of meetings, but unless enough parents step forward to lead then the parents union won’t be effective.

We recommend convening a leadership committee of 5-10 people. Serving on the leadership committee will require more time and commitment than being a member, but it will also be a unique leadership opportunity and a chance to support the growth and development of your chapter and your school. Once you have identified the members of your leadership team and about twice that many willing to become members of the chapter, invite all the parents you have met to your first membership meeting. Here you commit to formally starting the organization, commit to a kids first agenda, identify membership, approve the Steering Committee, and decide whether to affiliate with Parent Revolution or a similar organization who can help you with materials, training, organizing expertise, etc.  

Step 3: Pick Your Focus

The first task of the chapter is to decide on a focus for your work. By this point, you have spoken to dozens of parents about their concerns and hopes for their school community. You can circulate a survey or host a series of forums to find out more but eventually patterns will emerge and you can begin to analyze the information you have compiled develop the focus for a campaign.

Perhaps you want a stronger supervision policy at the school or a more academically focused after school program. Or perhaps the parents want an actual full-scale transformation of your school through one of the Parent Trigger options. We usually recommend starting with a goal that is easier to attain so that you can learn more about organizing to win, build your strength and develop deeper connections in the community, but every situation is different. One rule though is that you will not win real change if you can’t eventually build a strong majority.

Step 4: Launch Your Campaign

Once you have picked the focus of your campaign, organize a “kickoff” event that mobilizes the entire base that you have been building – perhaps it is a large membership celebration, a family picnic, or evening potluck. Be creative. At the kickoff announce the focus of your campaign and the change your chapter’s leadership is fighting for. The most important outcome is that your members are excited and eager to work on the campaign and that the focus you choose has a strong likelihood of improving results for kids. Make sure you give them options for how to help with the campaign. Can they make calls? Knock on doors in the community? Could they donate food or supplies to a campaign fund? Make sure that you have clear goals (e.g. 100 petitions signed by next week), that members and other volunteers know how they are contributing to those goals and where you stand.

After you have won an initial campaign, celebrate your victory, assess what you have learned and set a new, more ambitious goal using the same methods.

At every step of this process Parent Revolution is here to support you in your organizing journey. Some of the materials we can provide are sample house meeting agendas, canvassing guides, pamphlets and videos explaining the Parent Trigger law. We can also help to brainstorm ideas with you for effective campaign events. If an organizer has been assigned to help with your chapter they will provide trainings, leadership development tools and techniques and help with media, political and even legal matters.

We are here to help, so keep in touch and always let us know how we can support you!  

Chapter Roles and Responsibilities

Parents Union Chapters are led by elected steering committees composed of anywhere between 5 to 10 people. Every steering committee takes on certain roles and responsibilities that have been selected based on the work the chapter is expected to do. One person may perform more than one role but people may not share a role because we have found that the principle of individual accountability is key to success – you can always get helpers but the responsibility belongs to you! Below are descriptions of the standard roles that every steering committee must fill. You are free to add roles as needed but these are critical:

Coordinator: This role is the principal point of contact for the Parent Revolution/California Parents Union organizer. The most important responsibility though is to make sure that the other roles are being performed properly and that the steering committee is a happy and effective group. Unless decided otherwise, the Coordinator makes certain that steering committee meetings are scheduled and that an agenda is prepared before each meeting.

Data Coordinator: Data is critical to our success. We need to build majorities of parents to win. We need to work in a very organized and efficient way that will respect the time and energy that parents will give. To accomplish this we need to keep perfect electronic records of all of our contacts and activities. We will provide software and professional training to data coordinators throughout the state. The data coordinator needs to be comfortable with computers.

Media Coordinator: Successful work with the media is important for achieving our goals. Parent Revolution/California Parents Union has a great deal of experience and success in working with the media and we will provide professional training to the media coordinator for each chapter.

Logistics/Materials Coordinator: The Logistics Coordinator is the point person for all details including meeting places, chairs, tables, banners, leaflets, travel, food, childcare, etc. They are a critical part of any well-functioning organization. Remember that, while you may have a Logistics Coordinator, everyone will need to assist to make events work well.

Training Coordinator: Every chapter’s training coordinator will work with Parent Revolution/California Parents Union to put on periodic trainings regarding both policy and organizing for the school chapter or for groups of chapters. This is a good role for someone who wants to learn how to put together large complex events and learn about teaching/training.

Policy/Research Coordinator: The Parents Union Chapter is fighting for improvements in education so understanding education policy and being able to translate that understanding into a reform agenda for your school is essential. The Policy/Research Coordinator is responsible for researching things like academic performance and teacher performance as well as curriculum and classroom practices and any other issues in the school and district effecting the students’ education. This role will receive a lot of help from the organizer and is good for someone who really wants to understand how schools and districts work on the inside. The person in this role will also help the group to understand and focus on issues.

Recruitment Coordinator: The Parents Union Chapter has to grow in numbers as well as organizationally in order to be strong enough to win. The recruitment coordinator is the person who thinks the most about how to recruit more members. The organizer will help develop plans and train members to recruit. Recruitment is everyone’s job but the Coordinator is the person who always knows the answers to the questions: “What is our plan for growth?” “Who is doing what to achieve those goals?”

Community Outreach Coordinator: The Parents Union Chapters are school based and formal membership is restricted to parents of children at the school but support from the community is important to success. Churches, community groups, politicians, parents from other schools, business leaders. These are all potential allies and the job of the Community Outreach coordinator is (working with the coordinator and organizer) to cultivate those allies.

If you have more than eight people in your steering committee then there are other roles that you can add such as an “events coordinator” who plans events (working with the logistics coordinator or maybe the trainer or recruitment coordinator) or “internal communications” who would make sure that there was good information flow within the chapter and maybe put out a newsletter (otherwise a media job).

Remember that you can always find helpers but if you take on these roles then the responsibility is yours to make sure that the job gets done. As the chapter grows, it is likely that the chapter will also develop sub-committees to work on specific projects that come and go. The steering committee should decide as a group how to structure these committees and who should lead them.

Please contact your organizer if you have any questions about chapter roles.  

Defenders of the Status quo

We start from a position of openness to working with teachers, administrators and all parents and community organizations in our efforts to improve education for our children. We also strongly encourage Parents Union chapters to take this approach as well. But because your Parent Union chapter gives you real power over the educational destiny of your own child, and because your power is independent from those who currently have it, some powerful defenders of the status quo view your power as a threat to their own.

Your opponents will reveal themselves by the positions they take and the tactics they use and unfortunately, we have already seen opponents employ disturbing tactics to prevent you from attaining and utilizing your power. It is important that you understand the other side’s tactics so that you are prepared when they employ these tactics against you, your children and your community.

While we have seen these cynical tactics used in isolated circumstances against parents across California, we had no evidence that this was part of a coordinated plan to disenfranchise parents. That all changed in August 2011 when the American Federation of Teachers accidentally released their secret plan to “kill” the Parent Trigger. Below are some of the highlights of their secret plan:

  • Their primary strategy is called “KILL Mode,” which means using powerful lobbyists to “kill” Parent Trigger laws wherever they are introduced. 
  • If “KILL Mode” fails, then ensure that parents are never at the table when powerful deals are being negotiated. 
  • Finally, trick parents into thinking they have power when they actually do not, by creating committees with fancy names but no real power of any kind.

Some typical tactics we have seen in California include:

  • Accusing parents of organizing to close the school, fire the principal, fire the teachers or convert the school into a charter long before they have even considered any of these options – or even if they have rejected them. 
  • Lies about charter conversion under Parent Trigger that include a) special needs students will be rejected, b)other students will somehow be rejected, c) there will be a lottery, d) money will be charged, e) many, many more false statements too numerous to list. 
  • Individual intimidation either directly towards the parent or, more shamefully, through the student. Trying to force active parents off of parent bodies influenced by current holders of power. 
  • Dividing communities against each other along racial or ethnic lines. 
  • Using a parent’s immigration status to intimidate them into not standing up for their rights or the rights of their child.

Opponents may have lobbyists and money, but when parents stand up, stand together and speak with one voice, we have power. Petitioning under the Parent Trigger law is your constitutionally protected right, and so long as we have the Parent Trigger there is nothing the other side can do to take that right away from you. In order to be an effective advocate for your child, you need to know your rights so that you can stand up to the other side’s bullying and intimidation. The Parent Trigger regulations specifically ban the harassment of parents engaged in Parent Trigger campaigns, as well as the use of school resources campaign against Parent Trigger campaigns

Every time defenders of the status quo employ, lies, harassment and intimidation in order to stymie parents organizing, they prove better than we ever could why parents must have power over the education of their children. When we stand alone, we are vulnerable. When we stand together, we have power.

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