At the most recent city council meeting, Anaheim Mayor Pro Tem Lucille Kring asked to have a resolution placed on the February 24 agenda, stating the city council’s support for efforts of Palm Lane parents seeking to use the state’s Parent Trigger Law to convert their school into an independent charter school.

Following is the resolution the council will be voting on:

WHEREAS, Every California child deserves the opportunity to have quality education; and

WHEREAS, over 1000 schools have been rated by the state of California as chronically failing to provide a quality education to the children attending those schools; and

WHEREAS, Public charter schools are a proven model for providing quality education to the children they serve; and

WHEREAS, California’s state legislature in 2010 passed Senate Bill 54, “Public Schools: Race to the Top,” commonly known as the “Parent Trigger Law;” and

WHEREAS, the Parent Trigger Law, among other things, permits parents of students in non-performing schools to convert their children’s schools into independent public charter schools by submitting petitions signed by parents of a majority of the students at a particular school;  and 

WHEREAS, Palm Lane Elementary School in Anaheim has been listed by the State of California as a failing school for over 12 years; and 

WHEREAS, on January 14th, 2015, parents or guardians of nearly 70% of the children enrolled at Palm Lane Elementary School in Anaheim, exercising their rights under the Parent Trigger Law, submitted signed petitions calling for Palm Lane Elementary School to be converted into an independent public charter school; and 

RESOLVED, that the Anaheim City Council supports the parents of children attending Palm Lane Elementary School in exercising their legal right under California’s Parent Trigger Law to seek the conversion of Palm Lane Elementary School converted into an independent public charter school, and encourages the Anaheim City School District to work cooperatively with these parents, and 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Anaheim City Council encourages the Anaheim City School District, if the Parent Trigger Law petition meets the valid signature threshold, to implement the Parent Trigger Law and do all it can to ensure Palm Lane Elementary School’s successful conversion into an independent public charter school.

Approving this resolution would be a right and honorable act. It puts the Anaheim City Council on record in support of Anaheim parents exercising their legal rights under the Parent Trigger Law, and calls on the ACSD Board of Education to follow the law. Not exactly controversial – or at least, it shouldn’t be.

Last year, Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait was a strong supporter of the GOALS Academy charter application, and worked to persuade the ACSD Board to approve it (which it did).  Councilman James Vanderbilt was on the ACSD Board at the time, and voted to approve the GOALS Academy charter application.  Councilwoman Kris Murray has been a strong supporter of the Palm Lane parents, and stood with them last year at an ACSD Board meeting to speak in support of their efforts. There ought to be four votes in support of this resolution.

The ACSD apparatus and public school unions are already beginning to bombard councilmembers with calls to vote against the resolution. That isn’t surprising given the hostility the district and the unions have demonstrated toward these parents and their goal throughout the Parent Trigger Law process.

They will doubtless argue this issue lies outside the city’s jurisdiction and the council shouldn’t involve itself in ACSD affairs. However, the city council on a number of occasions adopted resolutions on issues that are outside its jurisdiction. In fact, during his State of the City speech last week, Mayor Tait   (such as a resolution in support of comprehensive immigration reform).

There are two national challenges we as a city don’t have the jurisdiction to solve. But we live with the consequences every day. And these issues need to be addressed.

The other national challenge I want to address is the broken immigration system. We don’t have the authority to fix it, but as I said, we have to live with the consequences.

As a city council, we unanimously voted for a resolution asking Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform. I can tell you cities all over America are doing the same.

Along with securing our borders and streamlining the visa process, there’s an important moral dimension at play here. It’s vital for any immigration legislation to enable people to come out of the shadows and fully pursue the American Dream for themselves and their families.

If it is vital for the city to take action on “broken immigration system” to help illegal immigrants achieve legal status – a federal issue — then isn’t it even more vital to morally support a group of poor and working class Anaheim parents in their effort to fix their broken local school by converting it into a charter school – a local issue — in order to provide a better education for their children and children to come?

The members of the City Council either support or oppose the Palm Lane Elementary parents group’s effort to convert their school to an independent charter status. Kring’s resolution is their opportunity to go on record, and abstentions have the same effect as a “no” vote.