The New York Times “Room for Debate” series offers a productive glimpse at the national debate over parent trigger legislation. Among five opinions was that of Parent Revolution executive director, Ben Austin, who writes:
Those seeking to understand parent triggers need look no farther than the parents at Desert Trails Elementary in Adelanto, Calif., who are actually using the law in real time. Parents there have spent nine months organizing 70 percent of the parents at their systematically failing school.
Austin’s 70 percent number is misleading. Reports the Los Angeles Times:
Shortly after the announcement, the school board voted 5 to 0 to accept Supt. Darin Brawley’s recommendation to reject the petition. Brawley reported that the district could verify only 235 signatures of 466 submitted; among the signatures thrown out were 97 from parents who revoked them, saying they were misled or had signed in error.
The announcement disappointed many in the crowd, who believed that the charter school petition signed by parents representing 70% of the 665 students at the school would be enough. But other parents who opposed the petition were pleased, saying that they wanted to give the new principal, David Mobley, a chance to improve the school without the upheaval of a charter conversion
Austin wants to only use the number of signatures his paid operatives were able to collect and not an official verification of the signatures. The Washington Post reports that Parent Revolution went so far as to rent a house near the school its was targeting. The omission by Austin on the pages of the New York Times that only half of the signatures his organization collected could be verified is remarkable. Austin advances the line that its opponents who are committing fraud:
……..But thus far, the opponents of parent empowerment(trigger) have responded to this movement with bizarre conspiracy theories, lies, harassment and forgeries on petitions.
Parent Revolution’s called the California school boards decision to be “unethical and illegal.” According to the LA Times, the organization’s two-petition strategy prompted school board president Carlos Mendoza to find Parent Revolution’s actions to be a “bait and switch.” Mendoza further said, “it’s not clear what is the will of the parents.”
Yet Austin wants to call opposition to his organization’s agenda as ”fear-mongering” and “defenders of an indefensible status quo.” Perhaps Parent Revolution may want to end it’s own “bait and switch” tactics and discontinue its misleading campaign of deception before lecturing anyone.