Public schools

Latest Parent-Trigger Effort Should Ease Teachers' Fears – Good Teachers, Anyway

Law allows parents to force out principal

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Raise your hand if you want a new boss!
Credit: Andres Rodriguez | Dreamstime.com

Parent-trigger laws give parents more power to take control of failing schools. While the biggest attention (and the biggest fear among unionized opponents) has been on efforts to turn bad public schools into charter schools, not all invocations of the law have to take it that far. The latest effort to apply the law in the Los Angeles area had a much more modest goal that will probably make teachers cheer. The parents want to keep the school public, keep the teachers, and just toss out the principal.

Courtesy of the San Bernardino Sun:

Monday in Watts, the Weigand Parents Union announced LAUSD officials had confirmed they had gathered enough signatures to invoke California's 2010 parent-trigger law. The law enables parents to force schools to make dramatic changes if they can gather signatures equal to 50 percent plus one of the families enrolled. The group reportedly gathered signatures from 61 percent of eligible families.

The law has been successfully invoked twice this year, first in Adelanto in the High Desert and later at 24th Street Elementary in the West Adams district of Los Angeles. Unlike those efforts, the Weigand Elementary parents are not looking for a charter school to take over or manage the school. Instead, they seek to oust the school's administrators.

"We support our teachers," mother Llury Garcia said before the parent group's news conference Monday morning.

"I think that the teachers are very intimidated right now" by Principal Irma Cobian, whom Garcia said is rarely on campus and has been unresponsive to parent complaints in the past.

If the group succeeds in removing her, "I think (the Weigand Avenue Elementary teachers) will make it work for the kids," Garcia said.

It worked. The LAUSD board moved quickly, approving the petition to remove the principal by a vote of 5-2 on Tuesday.

In March, I interviewed former California Democratic State Senator Gloria Romero, who fought for the law's passage. She pointed out that good teachers should support the creation of these laws. The outcome of the law's application at Weigand Avenue Elementary is a good reason why.

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  1. Sadly this is not the type of parent trigger law that I thought it was. The law I thought it was would have a much greater effect on teacher performance I do believe. (and improve job prospects)

  2. So if the principal was doing such a terrible job that 61% of the families with children in the school were willing to sign a petition to get rid of the principal, why was the principal not removed before this? It’s not like the principal was elected, it’s not a matter of having the support of 50% +1 of the families is all it takes to become principal. It seems to me that if a substantial minority of parents – even 25-30% would be sufficient – have a problem with the principal it would strongly suggest there is a problem with the principal.

    1. You seem to be udner the mistaken impression that parental satisfaction is somehow considered in measuring school performance.

  3. Not good enough.

  4. I have a suggestion: don’t ever send your kid to public school.

    1. I have something to say: it’s better to burn out than to fade away.

      1. Remember, Hugh: no matter where you go, there you are.

        1. If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it.

  5. Of course it would help if people remembered that we don’t live in Lake Woebegone where all kids are above average. Where they all have the same abilities, learn at the same rate, learn the same way, learn the same things at the same time, have the same interests, etc etc.

    You know, if we remember that even children are individuals and should be treated that way, but that is against the governments one size fits all policy and the present cult of equality over reality.

  6. of course the principal is probably powerless to make necessary faculty changes due to the teachers union.

  7. “If the group succeeds in removing her, “I think (the Weigand Avenue Elementary teachers) will make it work for the kids,” Garcia said.”

    Really? If the principal is rarely on campus, how come the teachers haven’t already stepped up to the plate and “made it work for the kids”?

    1. Perhaps they weren’t taking it one day at a time or giving 110%.

  8. There are some parts of libertarianism I just don’t accept, and blaming “teachers unions” for low minority test scores is one of them. Libertarians usually avoid this type of mindless scapegoating, but I guess teachers unions are too tempting a target. I blame two things, cognitive ability and traditional culture. Most teachers are good people who do everything they can to help their students. Some simply are not motivated by their families or do not posses the cognitive ability required to do well.

    1. “Weigand received a 688 Academic Performance Index score in 2012, down 1 point from the year before. The score, derived from multiple statewide tests, ranges from 200 to 1,000, and 800 is the state’s target for each school.

      The school is overwhelmingly Hispanic and poor: Of the 254 students whose test scores were included in the 2012 API score, 220 of them were Hispanic, 179 of them were “English learners” whose family speaks another language at home and all of them were categorized as socioeconomically disadvantaged by the state.

      Similar schools, according to the California Department of Education, have an average of 745 API.

      1. Re you saying the school is doing a good job? Because if so then they should *keep* the principal, who apparently knows exactly what needs to be done – keep the fuck out of the way.

        I wish I had more bosses who knew when to let well enough alone.

        1. That comment was a response to American.

    2. Well, we now know what Americlown’s mommy does for a living!

    3. I know specifically of the great lengths that the union in Los Angeles went to stop one charter school from opening and, yes, they they f****** evil. In the end, the teachers union dropped opposition in exchange for a percentage of the charters funding. They don’t represent any of the teachers or do anything else. It’s just tribute. The school’s poor minority kids have exceeded any of the optimistic expectations for achievement. The union did everything they could to stop that learning and then when they were going to lose extorted money from them. My friend who was one of the founders is a much stronger libertarian today than when it began.

    4. Strange that you’re willing to blame the “traditional culture” of the parents, but not the “traditional culture” of some teachers. Sure, “most teachers” are good people, but teachers unions make sure that the few bad apples can’t possibly be fired. (Just like police unions, no?)

      It’s not “mindless scapegoating,” it’s believing that a system which gives teachers no incentive to do a good job nor allows bad teachers to be fired will inevitably tolerate a few poor teachers. And, inevitably, the poor teachers will be concentrated in the schools with the low income parents (both because of things like teachers not wanting to deal with family and behavior problems, and because poor parents are the worst at knowing how to work the system), since, in lieu of firing, the only thing that can be done is reassign bad teachers to the poor schools.

      It’s the same motivation problems in any socialist system.

  9. The problem here is the problem of late capitalism, the problem of free trade, the problem of immigration, and the problem of race. It is hard to be uneducated, wages are stagnant, and unemployment is high, due to automation, immigration, free trade, and the decline of unions. As neither political ideology can touch these issues, the only choice for them is to demand that the children of workers become educated, where wages are still increasing. However, they are soon finding that it is easier said than done. What do they blame for this? They can’t blame cognitive ability or student motivation. So they blame teachers.

  10. There is a dude that really knows what time it is. Wow.

    http://www.Secure-Web.tk

  11. A kid who is good in math has options in this society. He can go into business. He can go into government. He can go into science. He can be an entrepreneur. Or he can be a math teacher. All the former are payed far better than the latter.(Yes, I heard about that school in Connecticut, exceptions don’t make the rules) So for any libertarian who thinks teachers are overpaid, he can put his money where his mouth is and go be one. Who would take such a shitty job with shitty children and shitty pay when they have better options available?

    1. Teacher pay is shitty?!

      1. Teacher’s pay is fething awesome.

        I’ve got a friend who teaches at the local middle school. He makes slightly over $30k in a place where a 3 bedroom apartment goes for $650, gets 2 months vacation every years, and gets so many days off during the school year he’s really only working something like 7-8 months if that.

        Oh and the bullshit about spending all night grading papers and all the lesson planning – teachers in the lower levels certainly aren’t doing that. Especially the planning bit – after your second year you should have that plan down already.

        1. and all the lesson planning – teachers in the lower levels certainly aren’t doing that. Especially the planning bit – after your second year you should have that plan down already.

          Well, those teachers aren’t very good then. If you teach the same lesson to kids over and over again with no amendment to your lesson plan, no thought as to how this individual group of kids learn differently than last year’s group, and no reflection on how to improve your lessons by examining what went right and what went wrong, then you’re not a good teacher.

          1. On the other hand – basic math doesn’t change much from year to year. And customizing a lesson plan to your pupils is really only useful when you know your pupils well enough to customize a plan to them.

            Even then it doesn’t take hours and hours of overtime to do so, especially since the teachers have one class period free during the day for planning and Wednesdays is a half day of teaching, the rest is for planning.

            1. And customizing a lesson plan to your pupils is really only useful when you know your pupils well enough to customize a plan to them.

              Well, shouldn’t you?

              Even then it doesn’t take hours and hours of overtime to do so, especially since the teachers have one class period free during the day for planning and Wednesdays is a half day of teaching, the rest is for planning.

              Your friend’s district only teaches a 1/2 day on Wednesday? Do they make it up on a Saturday or something? I’ve never heard of such a thing, to be honest. How long is the school day in his district?

              1. 0730 – 1430 M-F, and no they don’t make it up on Saturday.

                As for knowing your pupils, how? YOu didn’t teach them last year and you won’t teach them next year, schools don’t keep psychological dossiers on their students and you don’t get to see their previous grades, let alone have the opportunity to analyse your predec ors teaching methodology vis a vis each individual student the determine where he went wrong.
                You get to meet them the first time at the beginning of the school year.

                1. you don’t get to see their previous grades, let alone have the opportunity to analyse your predec ors teaching methodology vis a vis each individual student the determine where he went wrong.

                  That’s not entirely true. Some schools do allow you to look at the grades of your students from the previous year, and good teachers meet with the student’s former teachers and discuss the students personalities and learning styles.

                  You get to meet them the first time at the beginning of the school year.

                  Even if the students come into the classroom with you have no prior information about them, part of the beginning of the year should be devoted to getting to know your students, their learning styles and their needs. (Learning Needs Analysis/Assessment in Edu-speak) That’s just good teaching practice, in my opinion.

          2. no thought as to how this individual group of kids learn differently than last year’s group,

            How much variation is there from one group of 20 kids to the next?

            1. How much variation is there from one group of 20 kids to the next?

              As much variation as there are in any random group of 20 people. In my experience from year to year, the variation can be vast. Sometimes, you’ll have a class that is similar in temperament and needs to last year’s, but more often than not, each class is its own animal with different strengths, weaknesses, and interests.

              1. Thanks

              2. Clearly, your samples are too small to eliminate statistical variety. Rather than reducing class sizes we should increase the number of pupils per teacher, until not merely between but during each school year students meld into faceless, featureless masses.

    2. People who are terrible at their job seek out positions where they can’t be fired. Jobs full of such people that are also not allowed to pay high performers more end up having poor pay.

  12. Sometimes man you jhust have to roll with it. Wow.

    http://www.Secure-Web.tk

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