June 10, 2013: An excellent editorial was posted today by Andrew J. Rotherham on Eduwonk, regarding "irresponsible rhetoric" surround the issue of the parent trigger in general, and the Weigand Avenue Elementary School (see story below) in particular. The piece, aimed at charter-school critic Diane Ravitch, suggests:
...If you’re functioning at a high level in the education conversation, commenting on the issues of the day, and confronted with a situation like this one you can/should (a) check any available data underlying the issue (b) look for alternative viewpoints to learn more (in this case there were many on all sides readily available), and (c), augment that by talking with people with a firsthand knowledge of the situation – for instance a teacher, administrator, or close observer in Los Angeles to learn more...
June 3, 2013: Using what the Los Angeles Times calls a "promising, but sloppily written, law," parents in the Los Angeles Unified School District's (LAUSD) Weigand Avenue Elementary School (Watts) have, possibly unwittingly, pulled the parent trigger and rid themselves of ... an effective, respected, and staff-supported principal.
At left, May 30: Weigand Avenue parents who support ousted principal Irma Cobian clash with protesters from the Parents Union who pulled the trigger.
On Monday, May 12, the Weigand Parents Union announced they had gathered 53% of the parents's signatures on a petition (the law requires 50% plus one of the families with children enrolled in the school) to invoke the 2010 law.
"We support our teachers," spokeswoman Llury Garcia said at a news conference. "I think that the teachers are very intimidated right now," she added. The intimidator, according to Garcia, was Weigand Avenue principal Irma Cobian, whom Garcia said was "rarely on campus and had been unresponsive to parent complaints" in the past. If the Weigand Parents Union removes here, "I think [the Weigand Avenue Elementary teachers] will make it work for the kids."
The Weigand Avenue Parents Union was supported by the nonprofit Parent Revolution, the head of which, Ben Austin, said on May 12, "If you're against what the Weigand Avenue Elementary parents are doing, you're against parent power." (Weigand had a 2012 688 API; of the 254 students whose test scores were included in the 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.)
"Weigand Avenue Elementary School has "academically flatlined," Austin said...
Well, yes, but... As the Times noted in a June 2 editorial:
...According to organizers, the parents didn't want a charter school and wanted to keep all the teachers. But they apparently weren't aware that many of those teachers thought highly of Cobian. After the petition was accepted by the district, 21 of the school's 22 teachers indicated in writing that they would seek to transfer from Weigand, and some parents expressed regret over signing the petition.
Weigand's test scores are low, but it's unclear how much of the problem rests with Cobian, who has won praise for some of her work. The teachers see the petition not as a vote of confidence in them but as a repudiation of their efforts, which include a turnaround plan led by Cobian that was praised by Supt. John Deasy and was about to be implemented. None of this makes the parents who signed the petition wrong, but many were stunned to learn that the teachers didn't share their views...
[Weigand] teachers...will push for public notifications and meetings to inform parents about trigger campaigns involving their schools, a staff member there said Friday.
Monica Platas, the school’s categorical programs coordinator, said Weigand staff was not allowed to respond to several parent questions about the trigger campaign, which succeeded in removing Principal Irma Cobian..."The parents had a lot of questions about why they were doing this, but we couldn’t respond because it would be construed as impeding the process," Platas said, adding that legal counsel for both the district and teachers union told them to remain silent...
Parent Revolution...said it would welcome public meetings on neutral ground and consider the other proposals.