Sen. Bob Huff Voices Support For Palm Lane Elementary Parents’ Efforts To Implement Parent Trigger Act

This came over the transom from the office of Sen. Bob Huff:

Senator Huff Supports Palm Lane Elementary Students

Parents of Students Move to Implement Parent Trigger Act

SACRAMENTO: Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar) issued words of support today for students at Palm Lane Elementary School in the Anaheim City School District, as concerned parents prepare to take action to implement the Parent Trigger Act. Senator Huff has been a leader in expanding school choice for parents and students through legislation that he authored with former Senator Gloria Romero, leading to the creation of California’s nationally recognized parent trigger law.

The law gives California parents the ability to intervene in their child’s school if it is performing poorly. With enough signatures from parents, any number of actions can be taken against low performing schools. These can include converting it to a charter school, replacing some of the school’s administration and faculty or closing the school altogether. A group of concerned Palm Lane Elementary School parents have reported that they plan to turn in in the required number of signatures to implement changes under the parent trigger law.

“Research continues to indicate that high level parental involvement in the education of their children leads to greater success in the classroom,” said Senator Huff. “I applaud these parents for using the tools available to them to help turn their childrens’ schools around to help their kids get the quality education they deserve.”

Senator Huff was first approached by a group of parents from Palm Lane Elementary last year. They expressed concerns regarding the school’s academic performance and asked Senator Huff for assistance. In 2013, the California Department of Education reported that Palm Lane Elementary School had an Academic Performance Index (API) score of 746. This represented a drop in performance when compared to previous years and ranked the school in the bottom 20 percent of California schools.

“I’d like to work closely with all sides of this issue to help implement positive changes that will lead to a better education for all children served by Palm Lane Elementary School,” said Senator Huff. There is nothing to fear from positive change that comes with parental input and involvement. Communities in Los Angeles, Compton and Adelanto have already benefitted from the parent trigger law. All California children deserve the best education that we can provide.”

Senator Huff serves as the Senate Republican Leader and represents the 29th Senate District covering portions of Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino Counties. Follow Senator Huff on Twitter at @bobhuff99.

10 comments

  1. It is difficult to know the meaning of this political prattle by Senator Huff: “Research continues to indicate that high level parental involvement in the education of their children leads to greater success in the classroom.” He neither cites any research nor clarifies the meaning of “greater success.” Greater than what? Huff’s remarks lack any evidence and should be discounted. Parental involvement sometime contributes to classroom operations, but there is no direct link between improved student achievement and parental participation. There is no cause-effect relationship between these two factors. His reference to “positive changes” identifies nothing. In fact, no plan or policy has been presented to date that increases the likelihood of improved student achievement if Palm Lane Elementary School were to become a charter school.

    • Matthew Cunningham

      Hugh:

      Can you point to any “plan or plan or policy has been presented to date that increases the likelihood of improved student achievement” if the status quo prevails at Palm Lane Elementary School?

      • Hi Matt,

        There is no “status quo” in education in California these days.

        Things have changed.

        First, beginning with School Year 2014-2015, each school has the right to decide how funds are to be used (rather than having to follow inflexible “one-size fits all ” rules created in Sacramento.) This gives parents, administrators, and teachers a much greater opportunity to decide how funds should be spent to best serve their school community.

        Secondly, funding lost through the “great recession” has been restored with the improvement in the economy.

        So, the paradigm does not remain the same, but is vastly different, mostly because of the new freedom to decide locally how funds are to be spent, although the return of funding to pre-recession levels is a great boon, especially in terms of being able to reduce class sizes, hire additional teaching and support staff to benefit the children who need extra help, and last, but not least, allow a small budget for new library books for our low-income students, who have little or no access to books at home (a great passion of mine, of course, since I am the Palm Lane “library lady.”)”

        All of these things will contribute to the improvement in student achievement that was brought to a halt in 2008 by the economic crisis and subsequent reduction in school funding.

        Charter schools are not the answer. It’s my opinion that the charter school folks are capitalists with their eyes on the prize – California tax dollars. It’s a business, and the goal is to make a profit for the owners/shareholders.

        If the product is aircraft or oil, automobiles or software, chewing gum or ketchup, then I’m all for it. After all, capitalism’s the American way, and it works, and has worked better than any other economic system for the past couple of hundred years. I’m all for it. But when it comes to education, that is a human right, and it is the responsibility of our democratic society to provide a free, public education to every child in the United States, at the expense of the “public purse,” as perhaps Benjamin Franklin would have put it.

        Our schools should never become a profit center on some corporate P&L.

        Restored funding, local control of expenditures, and perhaps, one might hope, listening to people like Mr. Glenn who understand how children learn (not just about “education”) and making appropriate changes to the way teachers are allowed to present material to the children will help our children master the subjects required to enable them to be productive (and may I hope, happy and fulfilled) citizens.

        Theresa O’Brien
        Palm Lane Library Media Assistant
        Loara HS Class of ’66

  2. The reality is that school type is not a determinant of school achievement. For example, a national study of charter schools by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) found that attending a charter school accounted for less than 0.01 percent of the variation in reading performance between students attending public schools and students attending charter schools. Overall, academic achievement was found to be virtually the same in public schools and charter schools.

    • Matthew Cunningham

      Hugh, I would absolutely disagree with you. Saying the type of school doesn’t matter runs counter to common sense. That would be like saying it doesn’t matter whether a child is a student at a conventional public school, a charter school, a parochial school or a Montessori. Is it immaterial whether an Anaheim student attended Anaheim High or Lora or Oxford Academy or Servite? What about Santa Ana parents who camped out overnight to enroll their kids in SAUSD fundamental schools (this is before the lottery system) instead their regular neighborhood schools? Were they fools? Or maybe you know something that has managed to escape the inner city parents around the country to clamor to get their kids out of their regular public schools and into a charter school. Are they just dumb?

      • One must be careful comparing high schools and elementary schools. They are very different. They operate in very different ways.

    • Matthew Cunningham

      Here is a 2011 study from the Center for Reinventing Public Education that comes to a different conclusion regarding charter schools:

      http://heartland.org/sites/default/files/pub_NCSRP_BettsTang_Oct11.pdf

    • Matthew Cunningham

      Now, since it is clear your claim about charter schools is by no means established or even the consensus view, on what basis do you oppose the efforts of these parents to convert Palm Lane Elementary to charter status, and propose instead to relegate them to a status quo they are tring to change?

  3. You want evidence that what Palm lane parents are doing is right? I think I found some. While teachers shy away from the impact they have on student achievement, the research negates their attempt at measuring their impact AS JUST A MODEST AND UNIMPORTANT VARIABLE. I chose to look this up because my mother was a teacher and my brother is a teacher.

    I was almost offended by the notion that these two individuals who I respect so much are not able to turn the lives of kids around because “those kids face insurmountable circumstances.” Then why go into teaching … if it is a “lost cause” as teachers’ unions try to argue. I really believe that because my mother and my brother have been incredible teachers and been dedicated to their profession that they have changed the courses of many lives in their combined 49+ years of teaching. Everyone cites research either for or against what these parents are doing but no one clarifies what research they are referring to.

    Here is the evidence I found:

    -Teachers matter more to student achievement than any other aspect of schooling. (Rand Ed.)

    – Effective teachers tend to stay effective even when they change schools. (rand Ed.)

    – Thus, a major conclusion is that teachers make a difference. (SAnders, Wright and horn, 1997).

    – The results show that teacher effects are dominant factors affecting student academic gain and that the classroom context variables of heterogeneity among students and class sizes have relatively little influence on academic gain. (Sanders, Wright and Horn, 1997)

    – Effective teachers hold high expectations for themselves and their students. (Tucker and Stronge, 2005).
    “It’s not rocket science—the better the teacher teaches, the better the student learns.” (Wong, 2009).

    The one finding that came across clearly is that individual teachers within a school are the SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT COMPONENT of an effective school. (Marzano, 2007).

    Additionally, I looked up the impact of the school leadership.

    Here are some findings:

    – School District Leaders and Principals (some characteristics) (Morrison, 2013):
    + They have consistent, high expectations and are very ambitious for the success of their pupils.
    + They constantly demonstrate that disadvantage need not be a barrier to achievement.
    + They focus relentlessly on improving teaching and learning with very effective professional development of all staff.

    While class size, poverty, and equitable finance formulas play a role in raising student achievement, teacher and principal effectiveness has a greater impact on student learning than any other factor in a school system. (Partnership for Learning, 2010)

    So teachers arguing erroneously against your OWN impact on student learning, PLEASE stand up and own what you have the potential to do. I saw my mother and brother do it. I didn’t need research to tell me that they were important to the achievement levels that their students produced. But it was very validating to know that my heroes are, in fact, HEROES!!!

    I am sorry if I wrote to much! But I had to share my point of view because I feel that arguing against that teachers can’t overcome the variables that children are born into invalidates and disrespects my family’s hard work.

  4. Thank you, J. Chu, for your research points highlighting the importance of the teacher’s impact on students. I think what the problem is here is the measurement tool we have used in the past to grade schools, AYP. This is based entirely on one test, given in the month of May since 2003, called the STAR test. I teach, and I have administered this test many times. I worked very hard to help my kids do their very best on this test as the stakes are very high for the kids’ placement in junior high and in our school’s standing. I have seen supposedly struggling kids soar and GATE kids bomb. I had one child I worked tirelessly with shut down totally when presented with the test because the week earlier her beloved cousin was gunned down in the streets. But one thing that disturbs me the most about these tests is their putative nature if a child is not deemed “proficient”. Every child is unique and has strengths that are not measurable. I cherish the hardworking, persevering, and kind children I have taught in the past and am presently teaching. I stand in solidarity with the teachers at Palm Lane and know that they fully care about their students.

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