What Happens After Fed-Up Parents Take Over a School

Parent Revolution representatives say they want to foster more collaboration and minimize conflict. They point to four other Southern California parent unions that have used the parent-trigger process to achieve different types of reforms. At Weigand Elementary School in Watts, a parent-trigger campaign got the district to replace the principal despite teacher objections. Other efforts included a unique district-charter hybrid partnership at 24th Street Elementary in South Los Angeles, and convincing the district to let parents and teachers do a comprehensive needs assessment at Lennox Middle School just outside Inglewood: The school district’s superintendent formed an external team that worked with parents to identify the school’s strengths and weaknesses, and then developed a turnaround plan based on the findings.

“Every school can be a quality school, and every school should be,” said Diaz, the Adelanto mom who is now helping parents launch campaigns in other areas. “If we can reach more parents and educate more parents, then perhaps we can create a monumental shift in education.”

Parent Revolution is now working with about 15 other California parent unions. “It is now understood the law works,” said Everett, the Parent Revolution spokesman. “We are no longer in phase one.” In addition to California, Parent Revolution will be focusing resources on budding trigger efforts in Louisiana, he said.

Angel Barrett, lead instructional director for LAUSD elementary schools, said she’s encouraged by the early results of parent-trigger campaigns in the Los Angeles area. Students at 24th Street Elementary School, for instance, now benefit from a reinstated pre-kindergarten program, and a more fluid transition to middle school under the new charter school partnership. But she emphasized that it will take sustained work by educators and parents to see the changes through.

“The key is that the parent trigger is only the beginning, and we have to be very cognizant of ensuring that we continue to support the school,” Barrett said. “Just coming in and making a change, whether you change a principal or change the faculty—that’s an immediate action, but what happens on day two, day three, what happens six months later or a year later?”

“Parent trigger may be an impetus for change,” she said, “but what is the longer-term solution?”


This story was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, nonpartisan education-news outlet affiliated with Teachers College, Columbia University.

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Natasha Lindstrom writes about California education issues for The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, nonpartisan outlet based at Teachers College, Columbia University.

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