One of today’s editorials in the OC Register praises the Palm Lane Elementary parents who organized to petition for the conversion of their kids’ school to charter status under the Parent Trigger Law:
And so, when violence is done to our educations, something that removes from us the liberty to receive it or presents it to us in poor condition, human beings are well within their right to seek change.
Today, the parents of Palm Lane Elementary in Anaheim will do just that.
According to Register reports, the signatures of more than 60 percent of Palm Lane’s parents have been collected – more than enough to make use of what is known as the “parent trigger” law – and will be submitted to the school district for review. The law allows parents to push for essential reform of their children’s schools.
Among the options: Replacing a principal, forcing the school to rehire for teaching and staff positions or even closing the school. What the parents of Palm Lane have chosen is the “Restart Model,” which will transition the elementary into a charter school.
Palm Lane has shown itself in much need of reform: It has, for 12 years, been classified as a “Program Improvement” school – bureaucratic code for “failing” – a designation that requires two years of data analysis to receive. Twelve plus two is 14; Palm Lane has not been sufficient since the dawn of the 21st Century.
You can read the rest of the editorial here.
Kids can’t be freezed-dried until the public schools they attend are able to provide the quality of education those kids (and their parents) are entitled to (whatever the cause(s) of a school’s deficiencies). Parents have to act while their children are still children. That’s what these parents are doing, and they deserve better than the derision and contempt they have been receiving from the district and teachers union activists.
I realize that everyone is relegated to using high stakes testing to determine if a school is failing. However, what every article is trying to convince me of is that kids aren’t making any gains at that school. Let’s hear from the teachers. Do 5th and 6th graders not know how to read? Or are they just not reading at grade level? There’s a difference. I know a little something about kids in poverty and specifically second language learners. Most of them enter kindergarten not even knowing their own name. Most of them are just beginning to learn English. At the age of 5! But everyone wants to compare those kids to kids like mine who were reading before they went to school. Why would anyone expect those kids to make unrealistic gains? People are expecting them to make 7 years of growth in language in two years. If you expect a 2nd grader to be a grade level when they entered Kindergarten not speaking any English, that’s just what you are expecting. Let’s not forget, their parents are ‘t helping them out. Parents who live in poverty generally are worried about feeding and clothing their kids. Not helping them learn a new language.
Has anyone bothered to look at what kids ARE learning at that school, or any public school that is labeled as “underperforming?”
Why aren’t we asking the parents what they have done in the last one, two, three, six years to help their kids?
Ask me what I’ve done in the last ten years to help my kids. I’ve talked to them since they were born. I’ve raised them in a language rich environment. I’ve taught them their full name and how to write it, their phone number, their address, all of their colors, numbers, how to add, how to pay attention, how to sit still, how to tie their shoes, how to pull up their own pants, how to feed themselves, how to problem solve, how to ask for help, how to respect authority. And that was all in the first five years. Once they started school I taught them where to place their school papers so that I could keep in contact with what was going on, I met their teachers at or before Back to School Night, I showed them how important their education is to me by attending the parent conference and Open House, I taught them to do their homework, I helped them do their homework and their projects after I drove them to the store to purchase the items they needed (but most underperforming schools are not allowed to require parents to purchase items to complete projects…teachers’ hands are tied…projects must be done in class in place of something else that my kids’ teachers don’t have to skip, because I am doing my job as the parent…THESE ARE MY KIDS!!). I’ve taught them to persevere, finish their homework before dinner, to love reading, to value other people’s property (and their own), that being late to school isn’t an option, that they only miss school when they are sick with a fever…not because they have to go with me to run an errand. I’ve taught them to cross the street safely…even though they aren’t allowed to do it without me. This is by no means an exhaustive list.
Most of the time these things aren’t taught in poverty stricken families. They don’t have the time, energy, or understanding. Educators have to do the best they can anyway. Teachers cannot change those circumstances.
How can a teacher possibly make up for all that a parent should have done? This is why attacking underperforming schools is useless. The parents who stay at the new charter have probably already raised their kids to be learners. The kids who don’t stay are still in the same boat as they were before…not because they’ll be in another Anaheim public school, but because they cannot go back and change how they were raised. They can’t change how their parents are parenting them.
So what can be done? Education needs to begin at conception. Soon-to-be-parents need to be educated, but they also need to care. And caring cannot be regulated. Caring cannot be forced.
Blaming teachers for students not performing is like blaming police for crime, or doctors for cancer, or carmakers because you ran out of gas.
But I understand this much. People must be able to place the blame on someone else. It’s too scary to accept the truth sometimes. It means admitting that we are helpless. No one wants to do that, especially in education. Sadly, I believe that until we all admit it, until we stop throwing stones and face reality, absolutely nothing will help, charter schools included.
I wish all parents would prescribe to your effort at parenting.
So how should schools deal with the kids you describe? Should kids like yours be held back because other kids aren’t performing? We can all sit here and debate what’s wrong and why it’s wrong. But the charter school is one solution parents have come to. I realize it’s an option that you disagree with. So what would you suggest?
Finally, a parent says it how it is, how it should be, and how we grandparents raised our kids to be responsible AMERICAN CITIZENS – and does not blame TEACHERS for parents failures! Great, great article!
A group of parents petitioning to exercise their right under state law to convert their school to charter status is NOT an attack on teachers. It does NOT equate to “blaming teachers.”
This is a “straw man” argument; a tired and empty teachers union rhetorical device intended to silence any deviation from the union line. And it is so at odds with the reality of what these parents have had to put up with from the district and the unions simply for exercising their rights as parents.
This problem all started when the old school board hired Dr. Linda Wagner. The problem all started with her making all the changes in the schools before knowing the needs of each school. So we should ask her what motivated her or who motivated her to do all these changes that have not been beneficial to the district. Dr. Wagner if you acted by the advice of Dr. Jose Moreno please note that he uses many people to do his dirty work. You were one of many he manipulated to do his dirty work. I cannot say you are a bad superintendent however you should always take inconsideration the needs of the children and community before you start making the dramatic changes you have done since the day you were hired. I ask the new school board to always make a good decision when it comes to making dramatic changes that will affect the education of our children.