EDUCATION POLITICS - Why would a bunch of rabble-rousers invoke imagery of murder and mayhem when engaging parents?
What the “parent trigger” law, ‘Parent Revolution’ and school reconstitutions is doing — in Adelanto and Watts and probably 24th Street and Weigand among fifty other such incipient sites — is exploding the cultural universe. They paralyze their victims in an avalanche of false platitudes and fear mongering rendering parents stuck in its glare and detached from any semblance of their own reason.
Mr. Goebbels and other such charming intellectual associates through time have exploited the gambit of arousing terror and disengaging thought: Up-is-Down and Black-is-White; it can all be set up so that eventually, a lot of people even believe it. Contentions may be completely, “oppositionally” false, but say it long enough, and say it loud enough and you can make any pile of utter hogwash stick.
So evoking an atmosphere of hysteria amid images of “trigger-pulling” and “revolution” serve very nicely to position and fly a proverbial Big Lie about our schools; the fable is of failure and retribution, loss and redemption.
Another fiction being proclaimed is that we know how to Measure Effectiveness at our public schools; it is not a new problem. In fact it is even a fiction that we know what our public schools are. As they are being removed one by one, we belatedly recognize they are in fact pillars of our community and culture. They are gathering grounds, a community Village Green; the swaddled heart, soul and core of our urbanized society.
Not surprisingly then perhaps these schools have become surrogates of massive reach. They provide protection for children without a protective family sheath, they provide fellowship for parents of diverse cultures thrown together by happenstance of residence or common childrearing focus, they disseminate knowledge of all sorts from health to politics to professional specialities to arithmetic, athletics and arts for the young, old, poor and privileged, overeducated and illiterate alike.
A school is a community’s core. It is at once a microcosm of the community surrounding it but as well, encapsulates all that which is mustered by a community, a macrocosm.
How, then, can any given school’s effectiveness be judged? Even were the biometrics adequate, precise and valid, what should be measured?
And given that we don’t know (a) what to measure, (b) whether what we’ve measured is what we intended to measure and (c) whether our measure is accurate — given all these individually sufficient reasons to call the whole thing off, how can it be claimed at the end of the day that we have the faintest idea what constitutes a school that is “failing”?
If we lose the justification for acting upon a “failing” school, what, then, are we doing as we blithely permit an avalanche of schools across the nation to be shuttered either by fiat or nominal “grassroots” (-that-isn’t — aka “astroturf”) agitation?
Gleefully one leader with absolutely no skin in the game, no personal vestment in the school or even in public schools by virtue of actually enrolling their own flesh and blood in the public system – one after another of them trumpets the victory of shuttering these schools. The nominal justification is because the schools are “failing” and need “revolutionizing” and “reform”.
But these are all terms that constitute a Big Lie. That’s because we don’t know what a “failing” school is. Like pornography, it may be something knowable when witnessed, but to claim some one metric of its definition, is insupportable. Moreover, there is no indication that whatsoever ails our schools will be fixed by any of the variously proposed charter solutions invoked by the “parent trigger”.
It is not for a moment to say the schools don’t need ‘improving’ and ‘democratizing’ and ‘renovating’. Just that this should be done by the people, for the people. Real people, like parents and teachers and citizens working together. Not some corporate LLC masquerading as a ‘people’s revolutionary movement’, alluding to violence and mayhem and invoking the same in our own schools, all in the name of “parent empowerment” … that isn’t.
The “parent trigger” option invoked by parent Revolution does violence to our children’s schools and communities, promises to remove public school control from the public, and empowers no one but private corporations. Like guns, the effect is irrevocable. There is no way to return control of public schools to the public once ejected into the private sector. This is a one-way path toward privatization of all that was constructed by the people, for the people.
The LAUSD school board is entertaining a resolution on Tuesday, 6/18/13 at 9 am, a sort of very-minimal safety latch for this trigger delineating some rules for the collection of signatures. Please consider turning out in support of reigning in these scary policies. If you cannot make it, a phone call to your schoolboard member urging the parent trigger be mitigated would help:
(Sara Roos is a politically active resident of Mar Vista, a biostatistician, the parent of two teenaged LAUSD students and a CityWatch contributor, who blogs at redqueeninla.wordpress.com )
Vol 11 Issue 49
Pub: June 18, 2013