Rrrowr! Parent trigger front group “outraged” by PURE/PAA position

Choppers and charters

Even though the story was not even carried in the Tribune print edition, the World’s Greatest Newspaper ran a letter today tearing into a recent Trib blog post about the PURE/Parents Across America position against the parent trigger.

Here’s how they put it: “As parents, we are outraged by statements in a story you ran about PURE’s fight against parent engagement in schools.”

Right. That’s PURE – always fighting against parent engagement.

They go on:

We want to set the record straight. Charter schools are public schools open to any student who lives in Chicago. No tuition. No entrance exams. No excuses. Public charter schools are part of CPS and serve neighborhood kids just like regular CPS schools.

Well, except that some charter schools DO have entrance exams – KIPP is a notable example – and many charge significant fees which families must pay or the student is removed from the school. Oh, and then there’s the fact that charters counsel and push students out – that’s not being “open to any student” and is certainly not the way regular CPS schools serve neighborhood kids.

We need each and every option that delivers results, rather than adults promoting an “us vs. them” mentality.

Right, they oppose the “us vs. them” mentality – that’s why they wrote this letter stating their “outrage” over a parent group expressing an opinion that differs from theirs on this controversial experimental strategy.

It’s time for the grown-ups to start acting like adults. It is time that parents have the power to fix our failing system through the means they like best.

Sure. The best way to show that you’re grown up is to demand that things happen the way that you “like best,” without respect for facts, research, or track record.

Astroturfers unmasked

So, who are these outraged grown-ups? It’s always a hoot to dig a little into the folks who make up these small bands of ragtag “advocates” to see who Bill Gates is using to spread his message. My favorite used to be Rev. Patricia Watkins, who started out wearing a lot of hats for such groups as SAGE and Advance Illinois. Of course, she went on to run for mayor and to famously defend herself against Carol Moseley Braun’s “strung out on crack” crack.

Like Watkins and her multiple hats, most of the signatories of today’s Tribune letter pop up whenever charter schools need to put a parent face on.

Some are members of donewaiting.org (though they don’t mention that) – an outgrowth of the expensive, orchestrated media push around the movie “Waiting for Superman.”

The group was recently highlighted on the web site for Michelle Rhee’s new billion dollar public school bashing venture, Students First. Don’t miss the video of noted non-parent Father Michael Pfleger speaking passionately about the need for school choice – including parochial schools like his St. Sabina Academy – and several of the parents noting that they send their children to private, not public schools.

Some “donewaiters” — most of whom are employees of charter schools or charter promoting agencies — also wrote a letter to the Sun-Times last December pushing for more charter schools.

Donewaiting.org is affiliated with Education Reform Now, whose president is former NYC Schools Chief Joel Klein, a huge privatizer.

A little more digging found these interesting tidbits:

  • Trib Letter signer Denise P. Brown was recently a candidate for alderman in the 16th Ward (she lost).
  • Signer Pastor John Zayas is closely associated with recent mayoral candidate Pastor Wilfredo de Jesus. Both men’s churches are listed as favorites of the motorcycle and car hobbyists club, Christ for Life, which describes itself as (and I am not making this up) an interdenominational ministry that does not discriminate based on denominational affiliation, race, disability, skill level, experience, or make or model of vehicle(s).

Gotta love the charter movement.

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About the PURE Thoughts blogger
Julie Woestehoff is PURE's executive director. Julie's work has earned her a Ford Foundation award and recognition as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Chicago.