|Even Obama Says They Cheated (186kps)|
This week Compton Unified School District (CUSD) officials were verifying parent signatures in the Parent Revolution attempt to take over McKinley school and replace it with a private charter school using California’s “Parent Trigger” law. CUSD required parents to show up in person at the school, show official identification and then sign a document saying whether their signatures on the original petition were valid. Parents had two days to verify their signatures, from 7:30-9:00 am and from 3:00-6:00 pm. Parents who didn’t show up would have their signatures invalidated. CUSD later extended the deadline after getting pestered by Mother Jones magazine (a curious anti-union move by an organization named for a labor leader).
Parent Revolution is calling the signature verification process intimidating and illegal. While the rules set up by CUSD do seem unreasonable considering how difficult it is for parents to get time off work, it should be made very clear that the verification process was only necessary because Parent Revolution had engaged in a campaign of intimidation and bullying in order to acquire the signatures in the first place. There was ample evidence that the petition should be invalidated. Parent Revolution initiated their campaign with such secrecy that even the school’s own PTA didn’t know about it in advance. Their members harassed parents at work and at their homes, even after they refused to sign the petition. Some parents were told they would be deported if they didn’t sign the petition. Others felt they were tricked into signing.
“The process is messy because of the politics,” said USC education professor Priscilla Wohlstetter. In reality it is not politics at all, but business that is messy, specifically the business of privatizing schools. Parent Revolution is a front group for Green Dot charter schools, chaired by Steve Barr, former CEO of Green Dot and heavily funded by Eli Broad, billionaire opponent of public education. Both Broad and Barr are vocal supporters of school privatization. Their goal, of course, is to convert LA public schools into private charters that can skim off tax dollars. However, when schools are converted to charters, parental and community control is replaced with centralized decision-making by the charter school, with virtually no transparency or accountability to the community or teachers. What is messy is getting parents to relinquish their rights and influence to a private company that only wants to make a buck off their kids.