Parent trigger advocates are now two for three, and their biggest win yet came Tuesday afternoon when the Los Angeles Unified School District school board approved a proposal to overhaul 24th Street Elementary put forth by parents at the school.
Parents approved the proposal for themselves in a special parents-only election held last Tuesday. The plan will bring the school district and Crown Prep Academy, a charter school, together to run a pre-K through 8th grade school on the 24th Street campus. It is the first time that an attempt to invoke the parent trigger has sailed through without a court order.
“This is truly an historic vote for an historic partnership arrangement,” said Ben Austin, the executive director for Parent Revolution, which lobbies for parent trigger laws and organizes parents to make use of California’s version of the tool.
California’s Parent Empowerment Act of 2010 allows parents at schools with chronically low test scores to demand a host of sweeping reforms if they garner more than 50 percent of parental support from a school. Previous attempts to invoke the parent trigger, in Compton and in a small Southern California desert town named Adelanto, were divisive and acrimonious—both ended up in the courts.
At 24th Street, as in the Compton and Adelanto schools, the parents that Parent Revolution organized are predominantly low-income parents of color who’ve long struggled to improve their children’s education. Especially for parents who’ve been locked out of the school reform debate, the parent trigger can appear to be a long-awaited solution to their political disenfranchisement. But the parent trigger is a complicated tool, not least of which because the tactic has attracted the support of a host of conservative groups—from ALEC to the Walton Family Foundation. Critics of the parent trigger have accused Parent Revolution of astroturfing its way across communities of color in order to advance a narrow market-based school reform agenda.
“We thank the school board for its vote of support,” 24th Street parent activist Amabilia Villeda said in a statement released by Parent Revolution. “We are very confident this partnership arrangement will make the difference for our children.”
Los Angeles Unified school board member Marguerite LaMotte, whose district zone includes 24th Street said before logging the board’s only vote against the plan, “Our students are not for sale.”
This post has been updated since publication.