Time for Takeovers?

BIG things are happening in public education in several states that if the trend spreads across the nation, could turn our public schools on their rooftops. Not only is the state and local charter revolution in full swing (with the strong support of President Obama and Arne Duncan), there are plenty of schools exercising their rights using a new legal action available in four states called the Parent Trigger. One school in California, Desert Trails was recently successful in taking control of their school from their local school board.

These days, parents are almost universally frustrated with their children’s public schools and the media has responded. Another new movie, called “Won’t Back Down” was made documenting a fictional journey to school independence similar to Desert Trails. Read about it in the USA Today article below. Then read a condensed version of the victory letter sent out by the grassroots parent organization called Parent Revolution that was instrumental in helping Desert Trails in their struggle.

Please click here to read the USA Today article.

Three weeks ago history was made when the parents of Desert Trails Elementary School in California won the legal fight over their Parent Trigger petition.

For years, the parents of Desert Trails have battled against a school district unwilling to cooperate or collaborate in improving conditions at a school consistently ranking in the lowest 10% of all schools in California.

Fed-up with getting the run-around from the district, the parents formed the Desert Trails Parent Union and successfully took the district to court, despite numerous obstacles and legal challenges. …..

Parent Revolution has been proud to stand with the Desert Trails Parent Union, supporting them at every step as they fight for their children – and for quality education. We will continue to do so in the coming weeks and months as they work to transform their school.

And we will also continue to work with other parent groups in California, and across America, who believe their children’s school can be doing better. Our commitment is to empowering parents everywhere through organizing.

This is history in the making. Never before have we seen parents achieve the parents of Desert Trails achieved in the past three weeks.

I hope you will help us build and expand on this momentous victory.


Ben Austin
Executive Director

Parent Revolution


Interesting isn’t it? What would be the chances of our legislators passing a law allowing the Parent Trigger in Georgia?

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Hosting a dialogue among parents, educators and community members focused on improving our schools and providing a quality, equitable education for each of our nearly 100,000 students. ~ "ipsa scientia potestas est" ~ "Knowledge itself is power"
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29 Responses to Time for Takeovers?

  1. Achelous says:

    Looks like a great law. There would e a lot of job openings in DCSD if this was implemented! (Assuming that it was possible to get 50% of parents in one of our low performing schools to sign the petition. This is the county where a high school faculty ‘went on strike’ outside their building after hours when little or no parents came to a PTA meeting)

  2. teacher/taxpayer says:

    I don’t think revolutions should be limited to parents only. We taxpayers should be able to get involved too.
    I have been having problems posting, and finally added a post to the comments on the lunch issue, but it may not be seen by many at this late date. Let me add this: My principal who is very reliable replied to my email last week. She wrote that it does not apply to teachers (who are certified employees) ; It applies only to classified employees such as custodians and secretaries.

  3. fedupindcss says:

    I don’t know. There is something about this that unsettles me, and believe me I am no fan of our Board or school system. First, I could see this being used by for-profit outfits; start a “grass roots” campaign, get the parents to pull the trigger, and come in like a white knight when those same parents realize they need something to fill the void they just created. Also, didn’t we create school councils to empower parents, and they went nowhere. Some new idea gets floated that seems like an easy fix; this is like the school uniforms.

    It also bothers me that this does seem like, well, the easy way out. The way you affect change is to “vote the bums out.” There seems to be a lot of moaning and whining, but we need some serious political muscle out there to get the change done. This law gets it done one school at a time, but that still leaves plenty of schools without a strong parent base that wouldn’t implement this. Call me an idealist, but I still would like to see the entire school system brought up to snuff, not just a school here or there (heck, we have that going on now).

    Sorry to be so vague and negative, but it’s one of those “seems too good to be true” things to me.

  4. We don’t know why you’re getting caught in the spam filter teacher/taxpayer. We’ll try to check it more often. As far as this post goes, the law is certainly open to any group with a good proposal to take over a failing school. We wanted you all to be very aware of this trend as well as the charter trend endorsed by Obama and Duncan. Things have a way of rolling east from California pretty quickly once they take hold. Follow the links — look into the advocacy groups and view the movie trailer. It’s pretty powerful and seems to be riding a strong grassroots trend of people doing something about our children’s schools.

  5. Educate says:


  6. justwatch says:

    For this to be really viable, we need the charter school amendment to pass. It is important to vote yes in November, and tell everyone you know to vote yes as well. Then we must push our legislators hard to get this legislation through.

  7. The Deal says:

    Can we “take back” an entire school district instead of just a school?

  8. GTCO-ATL says:

    Having problems posting from here as well. That may explain the lower number of comments lately. Please check and perhaps you can have a mirror site if this one isn’t working right now.

    And, for the record, the Paren Revolution in DeKalb has begun. By working together, parents at 10 different schools from the north, central and south regions of DeKalb County were instrumental in alerting their neighbors, the public at large, their county and state representatives and other school districts and watchdog groups across the entire U.S. about the sneaky attempt underway to build cell phone towers on school grounds, something that is against our county ordinances to protect the health, safety and property values of all our residents!

    Our fight to get a law passed for a total ban on towers at schools could have ended when the telecomm. lobbyists watered down the bill to a vauge, “nonbinding referendum,” which went to all voters in the county on July 31. But, the “parent revolution” was strong enough to use old fashioned “word of mouth,” some sucessful protests that gained mainstream medai attention, some dedicated local journalists who followed the story, blogs, speaking engagements and other forms of public relations to spread the word that this ballot question needed a NO vote. With a ZERO budget, the word still got out and the voters responded with a 62% overall NO vote and the margins as large as 80 – 20 in some areas (more in South DeKalb than the North).

    How was this accomplished? People talking to EACH OTHER and forcing their representatives to explain their actions. Parents reaching beyond the confines of their school boundaries to care about ALL children, not just their own. Leaders stepping up to spread the word, but agreeing to NOT hold out on telling each other what they learn along the way. Speaking up for themselves, but remembering there are others fighting the same fight, so always remembering to mention the other schools, too.

    We all worked together and got along very well as we focused on the common goal. There were differences, but we did not let that break us apart. We learned about the same set of circumstances from a variety of perspectives and, in the end, we realized that so many of our schools are involved in the same issuses, same concerns, same fights and frustrations. It isn’t the fault of the children …. the problems in DeKalb stem from the top.

    A parent revolution is absolutely in order here. You can start by electing Denise McGill and JimMcMahon in the runoff elections which are open for early voting right now. The in person vote at your regular polling place is Tuesday, Aug. 21. These two candidates are parents with children who are school aged right now and who understand the urgency of getting our schools in order. The “old guard” they are up against have a lot of financial backing, but that should not stop the word-of-mouth campaigns that you can help foster among the people you know, work with or meet at the grocery store. Don’t forget, every little step forward is a victory. Every concession we make is a step backwards!

    Don’t give up the fight!!

  9. justwatch says:

    I happen to believe that a system wide takeover is the answer, however, I don’t think that will happen. Our best bet is to allow for a school by school takeover, slowly and steadily draining the financial resources away from the system to the school house.

    As kindergarten students arrive Monday to classes as large as 24 without a para, every parent in the county ought to know that there are dozens of secretaries in the Central Office. In the real world, mid level managers answer their own phones, do their own calendars, etc. Of course, there are scores of other unnecessary CO employees as well. But the secretaries are a symptom of a the problem of “school system as jobs program.”

  10. Interesting at the school board meeting the other day there was someone speaking during the public comments that represented the opposition to the state’s DOE intervention in charter schools and the bill before the ga legsislature. Didn’t even know the bill existed before I heard her speak. The meeting is now archived on PDSTV.
    on the trigger law:
    “The trigger allows parents to say what they don’t like. It does not provide a mechanism for parents in a sustained way to say what they do want and how they can shape a process to achieve those goals. ” quote from: Professor JOHN ROGERS (Director, UCLA’s Institute for Democracy, Education and Access, NPR, Examining California’s Parent Trigger Law.

    We already have the ability to do this, why does a law need to be enacted? This laws allows parents to en mass (50%+one) the right to petition the board to say they don’t like the school and what’s going on with it. We can do that now, does this law do anything to actually change the situation? No, it just provides the parents with a legal right but I submit there is a right do such a thing. Just by talking to parents and getting together, getting involved and organized. It takes parental involvement, not a new law. We already have enough chaos, we need solutions, better leaders and parents to give more than a passing glance at the happenings at the CO. Don’t forget folks, for everyone of us that reads this blog and is active, volunteering parent there are at least 20 more that aren’t. They need to get off their butts in more ways than one.

  11. what a sham says:

    I would advise being careful what you wish for when asking for a parent takeover. In my short experience not all parents have the same goals in mind. My child attended a charter conversion school and what has really happened is one parent now runs the school (with a weird meglamanic control) and the principal has sort of hidden himself in his office. No dissent is allowed. It is the Chairman’s way or the highway.

    Of course I am still bitter since the Chairman chose to walk away from a free school playground. He felt that was a better choice to wait until 2018 when SPLOST IV rebuilds the school so the taxpayers could foot the bill.

  12. ooh that whole situation sounds unfortunate and very not fun. best to volunteer in the classroom and leave the rest of it to the wolves..

  13. GTCO-ATL says:

    A true parent takeover will be difficult as most fear retaliation against their children.

  14. Dr. DeKalb says:

    what a sham… how did you raise enough money for a playground and how was one person able to tell you no?

  15. Dr. DeKalb says:

    SPLOST IV will end in 2016, so he or she will be waiting a loooong time for nothing!

  16. d says:

    The charter amendment won’t solve anything. I believe DeKalb has more charters than anyone else in the metro….. and the amendment doesn’t change that. It just says the state can create charters too – which it already can. The problem is that it will give the state the ability to fund charters at levels much higher than QBE funding currently going to local districts. The state says it will not use local funding to support these charters, but the question is, since the state must have a balanced budget, where will that funding come from? I don’t trust the state on this, just like the T-SPLOST vote – please vote NO! (And in the mean time, let’s take care of voting for candidates for the local board who are able to control what’s going on in the district!)

  17. We disagree. We think that it’s high time that the power is placed with the people. The dollars spent on educating children should be spent as the parents of those children see fit. No child should be condemned to a sub-par education due to the geography of where that child lives or whether the the leadership in that child’s community are good stewards of the public’s money. No. Time is up. For years, our leaders have not proven themselves worthy of absolute control. Divvy up the power and watch the fireworks! Children only have one chance at a quality education. In many cases, charters can offer that chance. At the very least, people should be able to choose what’s best for their own children. And our tax dollars should be spent in a variety of ways in order to offer a variety of educational selections. One size never fits all.

  18. Tucker Guy says:

    @Dekalbschoolwatch, I believe you are wrong. The quality of the education a child receives from DCSS is most strongly influenced by the parents and not the geography of where that child lives.
    Yes. DCSS is dysfunctional.
    Yes. The BOE has corrupt members.
    Yes. The central palace is a friends and family money pit which impedes the effectiveness of the teachers with horribly bad management.
    However, based on my experiences in classrooms, it is the parents who determine the success of the students. You can have the greatest teacher in the world, but if the child is tired, hungry, and emotionally needy (not to mention has special needs) they won’t success in the classroom.

  19. justwatch says:

    Tucker Guy

    I would have totally agreed with you up until the last year or two, and to some extent still do. But I have an easy example for you, this year Cobb will still have paras in kindergarten and DeKalb won’t. Which group of children, even controlling for demographics, etc will have a better experience?

    Another, non-DeKalb centric example, is throughout rural GA, you have school boards made up of old white men and schools that are almost entirely full of minority students. The goals of those school boards is to have the lowest millage rate possible and spend as little as possible. Those students, whether advantaged or disadvantaged, aren’t getting the education they need.


  20. IAMMYKIDSMOM says:

    A takeover is definitely needed with our local board and our schools. As a single parent in a bad economy, the rising cost of graduation dues is ridiculus. We recently learned that the Superintendent has banned graduations at local churches. Why should we continue to pay rising graduation dues to have an hour and a half ceremony at the Dome or any other non-DeKalb facility? If the Superintendent has banned such graduations, why are high schools planning Baccalaureate Services at a local church?

  21. d says:

    We frequently see on Get Schooled people complaining that the public system is a Monopoly and that parents don’t have a choice. Nothing could be further from the truth. A monopoly, by definition, means only one provider. We have choices – there are private schools, parochial schools, there are district approved charters, there is home schooling, Seeing that there are indeed options, monopoly is not correct. The public schools in this state educate approximately 1.7 million students, about 95% of the children in the state.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am fully in support of parental choice in education, what i cannot and will not support is my tax dollars going to support that choice. If you want to put your child in a private school, you figure out what you can sacrifice for that choice and you make it. Give up the coffee on the way to work, give up the BMW in name of a used Ford, etc. I agree that there are some real issues in DCSD, but from my experience in the classroom, more often than not, it is the attitude towards education that the parents, students, and the community at large have. DCSD has more choices available than any other system in Georgia. There are plenty of opportunities in the public system for the people who want to take advantage of them. I personally refuse to give a passing grade to a senior just because he or she thinks they will honor me with their presence in the classroom. I can’t tell you how many times I have been told by a student that *I* should be lucky that they showed up. Excuse me?

    What happens at schools such as Champion if the students and parents don’t fulfill their obligations as part of attending Champion? They get sent back to the home school. Any wonder why Champion constantly performs well? What about at a charter? The same thing happens. A student can get an outstanding education at Cedar Grove just like they can get at Lakeside – if they are willing to do what is necessary to earn that education. They have to care enough. Therein lies the problem – too many just don’t care and we blame the schools.

  22. We can virtually assure you — and any other concerned parents — that the teachers in schools where there is a parent takeover will not retaliate against students. They will be grateful that parents are — at long last — riding to the rescue like the cavalry. Teachers want to be treated as the highly trained professionals they are — and they are ready and willing to work with parents to achieve a successful educational outcome for DeKalb’s students. Teachers are fed up — with incredibly boring scripted “education” programs … with know-nothing-do-nothing “coaches” … and with friends-and-family school administrators who are beyond useless.

  23. Dr. DeKalb says:

    What’s more likely to be coming down the pipeline is a state takeover. And charter schools do not always put power with the parents – they outsource to corporations so the power is to the private sector. Vouchers would achieve the same outsourcing, but the real competition would force the public schools to step up their game or risk losing the funds. Charters still get the funding from tax dollars, but often less of it as they also get private donations, yet they can have their schools closed upon review of their charter every 5 years or so.

    There’s just something about letting DeKalb close schools even faster and easier that does not sit well with me. And, that charter bill also mentions something about giving the state the authority to consolidate school districts if needed, so they are talking about bigger, not smaller districts.

    Charters were really an outcome of NCLB and centered around local communities, not around the idea of pulling kids in from all over. That’s a magnet school. Of course DeKalb also has Theme Schools, IB programs, an online program, technical schools and God only knows what else.

    Serve it up anyway you like – it all comes from the same kitchen. If you really want the power in the hands of the people – then you should find a way to get more people out to vote or more people to step up and run for these board positions. The people have the power and control already…. they just are not using it.

  24. d says:

    @DSW – I don’t want parents “coming to my rescue.” Yes, I want to be treated as the professional that I am, but I can’t imagine any teacher wanting this.

  25. @d. Sorry. We can’t figure out where we said anything about rescuing anyone. Supporting teachers yes. If you don’t want parental support, then you certainly should inform your students’ parents. That said, weren’t you the one who earlier blamed poor student performance on bad parents? Maybe I have you confused with someone else.

  26. RoseDennis says:

    Most of these parents, complaining and wanting to take over school systems and schools know nothing about what teaching entails. Most of these parents, helicopter parents, have no control over their children at home, and seek only to vent their frustrations at the school systems. Their “gifted child” is usually lazy, disrespectful, and bossy, as a result of lack of parenting, and/or poor parenting. Their “gifted child” usually is only engaged, maybe, when there is a computer or other gadgets involved in the learning. Consequently, they are mediocre in writing and other practical activities/and skills required to build a foundation, especially at the elementary level. I call them drive-by kids, everything must be now, and these rude, rotten, antagonistic, and offensive kids do not understand the concept of “no” as that is not taught at home, hence many of these kids feel they can have things their way. It becomes tiring. I would dare these parents to spend a day in a classroom, or try a homeschooling group. (Homeschooling, in my opinion, is akin to abuse. Children need to be socialized, and children will resent parents for depriving them of that school or high school experience, that they, themselves had as a child.)

  27. @Rose Dennis: The cell tower issue is countywide. We have been reporting on it for quite some time. Jay Cunningham was very involved in getting the tower approved at MLK High School as well as others.

    We tried to get the word out about the community meetings back in April, 2011

    Below is a list of schools that were considered for cell towers. Brockett and Medlock were removed before the final vote after much protest from those communities.

    Briarlake Elementary School
    Lakeside High School
    Martin Luther King, Jr. High School
    Brockett Elementary School
    Flat Rock Elementary School
    Jolly Elementary School
    Margaret Harris Center
    Princeton Elementary School
    Smoke Rise Elementary School
    Narvie J. Harris Elementary School
    Meadowview Elementary School
    Medlock Elementary School

    In addition, on a normal day, we would have removed your comment for the racial remarks. We generally do not allow for such acidic and false claims, but we left it as it shows your lack of understanding of the issues and locations of the towers (not to mention, your disdain for students in your other comment. We pray you are not a teacher). At any rate, due to that lack of understanding, we are sharing the above cell tower info, which has been readily available on our blogs and the Get the Cell Out website for over 18 months. Both blogs were fighting against all cell towers close to schools – not just in north DeKalb.

  28. On the issue of home schooling: Anyone who makes statements like those made by RoseDennis have obviously not been updated as to what’s happening in home schooling these days. The idea of home schooling has gained serious momentum and home school students have been taking all kinds of awards in many areas. They are also highly socialized people. In fact, they are socialized across age barriers – their interactions are not completely within their own age group – so they can be very mature and balanced. In addition, home schooling has evolved and expanded into groups/tutors/online learning, etc.

    In fact, Education Week has a very interesting article just posted this week on the subject:

    ‘Hybrid’ Home Schools Gaining Traction

    Education policymakers and researchers have largely ignored the tremendous growth in home schooling, particularly among these sorts of “hybrid” home-schoolers willing to blur the pedagogical and legal lines of public and private education, said Joseph Murphy, an associate dean at Peabody College of Education at Vanderbilt University and the author of Home Schooling in America: Capturing and Assessing the Movement. The book, an analysis of research on the topic, is being published this month by Corwin of Thousand Oaks, Calif.

    “Historically home school was home school, and school was school,” Mr. Murphy said. “Now … it’s this rich portfolio of options for kids.”

    In addition, we once posted on the subject at the old blog and people added even more choices in the comments:

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