Trib attacks Parents Across America

All shook up

For a group that’s only a few months old, Parents Across America already seems to have the “reformers” all shook up.

Take a look at this editorial in Saturday’s Tribune, for example. It seems to be responding to a March 14th press release from PAA about a position paper we wrote opposing “parent trigger” laws.

Now, keep in mind that the Tribune didn’t write a news story about PAA’s position, though we sent out a press release. They did print a letter to the editor from an “outraged” group in response to an online – not print – post from a Trib education writer. That blog mentioned PAA’s concern about how the nation’s only actual trigger law — in California — was implemented; “Some parents claim that effort was led not by parents from the community but rather by organizations and charter operators who lobbied for the legislation.”

The Trib has also written a couple of editorials supporting Mayor-elect Emanuel’s push for a trigger law, which was his main nod to “parent involvement” during his campaign.

From the PAA press release announcing our parent trigger position paper:

The Parent Trigger gives parents “no opportunity to choose among more positive reforms, and fails to promote the best practices for parent involvement from the ground up,” said Julie Woestehoff, Executive Director of Parents United for Responsible Education of Chicago. “The process creates huge potential for abuse, and for disruption and divisiveness in school communities.

Parents Across America instead supports a process in which parents are authentically involved at the ground level in developing strategies for improvement. “These strategies might include smaller classes, more parent involvement, or other reforms that have been proven to work and are aligned with the individual needs of the school and its students,” says Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters.

The Parent Trigger has been used at only one California school, McKinley Elementary in Compton, near Los Angeles. Parent Revolution, the Broad-funded organization that pushed for the Parent Empowerment Act, selected the school to target and the charter operator that would take it over before sending paid operatives to collect signatures. The campaign was secretive, and some McKinley parents say they were misled about what the petition called for and had no opportunity to learn about other options. Since the petition was submitted in December 2010, the issue has erupted in confusion, controversy and chaos.

In its Saturday editorial, the Trib attempted to make fun of PAA’s position, likening it to a story in the satirical “Onion” newspaper.

Diane Ravitch tweeted “When Chicago Trib complains, it means your message got through.”

That’s what we thought, too.

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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.