‘Parent-Trigger’ Progress


Teresa Rogers has something to be thankful for this holiday week—and so, by extension, do parents all across the country. After helping engineer the country’s first successful “parent trigger” last month to wrest control of a persistently failing school from the local bureaucracy, Ms. Rogers won election to the school board that had done so much to stand in the reform effort’s way. She even knocked the board’s president out of his seat.

Ms. Rogers is a member of the Desert Trails Parents Union, which for two years has sought to force change at their children’s Adelanto, Calif., elementary school, where 70% of sixth-graders aren’t proficient in English or math. In January, Ms. Rogers and her colleagues submitted petitions under a 2010 state law empowering parents in such a school to close it down, change its administration, or invite an outside charter operator to take over. After 10 months of intimidation and intransigence from local officials and teachers unions, two court orders verified the parents’ petitions and ordered the local school board to comply.

Then came Election Day, which suggested that the Desert Trails parent-trigger effort has not only the law on its side but public opinion, too. In a four-person race for two seats, Ms. Rogers received the most votes (30%), with another challenger winning the second seat. “Board President Carlos Mendoza and Board Member Holly Eckes have been ousted,” boasted a press release from the trigger-supporting activist group Parent Revolution. “Both board members showed unyielding opposition to reasonable reform efforts at Desert Trails Elementary School. Tuesday, these board members paid a price for their actions.”

To be sure, the election wasn’t a clean sweep for trigger supporters. Re-elected to a short (one-year) term on the five-member board was Jermaine Wright, who at a public meeting in August defied a judge’s order to honor the parents’ petitions, even brandishing handcuffs and daring authorities to “take me away.” Such is the massive resistance that parent trigger has faced in its few short years of existence, but victories in court and now at the ballot box chip away at the control and credibility of unionized bureaucrats.

So, too, would academic improvements at the new Desert Trails. Starting in September, the school will be run by LaVerne Elementary Preparatory Academy, a local charter operator selected last month by the Desert Trails Parents Union.


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