California “Race To The Top” Legislation Gets Curiouser and Curiouser

The Los Angeles Times reports today that State Senator Gloria Romero has just amended her unfortunate legislation to supposedly help California get more federal funds for education to include yet another amendment that I’m not thrilled with — it parents new power to trigger change at a school.

You might think this to be a strange position from an advocate of parent engagement. However, as I wrote earlier this fall about this act’s precursor in Los Angeles, it seems to me that this may be a veiled attempt to give charter school operators a “leg-up” at privatizing schools.

The number of parents required to trigger this change would be 51% of the school — but not really “of the school.” Pretty much a parent of any child living in the attendance boundary of the school — whether they attend it or not — can sign.

I don’t think holding a gun to the head of schools and giving parents of students (who might not even parents of students) the right to make one change and one change only is the best way to promote parent engagement. If the state (and federal government) was really serious about promoting parent engagement, they might work with teachers, administrators, and parents to figure out a way to develop incentives for schools to encourage making parent engagement a higher priority — perhaps giving “credit” on state rankings to those schools who are trying innovative ways to do so, or excusing them from doing some onerous required bureaucratic task or, best of all, providing some extra money.

4 thoughts on “California “Race To The Top” Legislation Gets Curiouser and Curiouser

  1. While I understand the measure’s intent, I worry about the political pressures could be brought to bear on low-income parents. Petitions themselves are not necessarily signs of engagement, and we all know that petitions can be abused, especially in language-minority communities.

    It’s difficult to create policy levers for parent engagement. Not sure this is the best one.

  2. Thanks for this post, Larry. It’s nice to hear from someone who has made community and parent outreach one of the cornerstones of his teaching life and public life speaking out about this.

  3. I need a deeper understanding of what prompted this kind of provision. May we work tirelessly to promote positive parental involvement without finding the necessity of invoking these kinds of policies? With each passing day, it seems that our “Race to the Top” becomes more competitive than cooperative and certainly more repressive and manipulative than I could have ever imagined.

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