Private Schools and Private Agendas

Private Schools and Private Agendas

At first glance, the “parent trigger” movement, backed by the Parent Revolution, appears to be an innovative push to repair failing public schools and empower low-income parents. However, a closer look reveals that the education reform movement is nothing but a deceptive ploy to eliminate public education and weaken the power of labor unions. The Parent Revolution uses their empowering mission statement as a convincing deception for the parents of children in under-performing schools.However,their battle to improve public schools is nothing but a distraction from their private agenda.

The public education reform movement is backed by the Parent Revolution, a key component in the fight against public education. Their strategic weapon in the fight is the “parent trigger” legislation, a policy that grants the ability for parents to intervene in their child’s school if they believe it is performing poorly. Many view the legislation as an effort to privatize public schools by giving parents the power to vote for change in their children’s school. The Parent Revolution’s role in the legislation is to pressure parents into signing a petition that hands over their kid’s public schools to private contractors. In doing so, these new private contractors then eliminate teacher union contracts, hire or fire as they choose, and turn the school over to a private charter school company.

Often times, the private agenda of a powerful organization correlates with the visions of its donors. In this case, the Parent Revolution receives the majority of their financial aid from the conservative Walton Family Foundation, one of the nation’s largest anti-union organizations. According to Frying Pan News, the foundation, the nation’s largest private donor to charter schools contributes 43 percent of the $14.9 million donated to Parent Revolution. Other donors include the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, and the Broad Foundation. And what do these large donors all have in common? Their mutual inclination to support privatization and anti-union policies.

John Rodgers, director of UCLA’s Institute for Democracy, Education and Access, asks “Why is all this money coming in? It doesn’t seem to be about educational improvements . . . It seems to be about creating greater pressure to challenge teachers’ unions rather than an authentic way to improve education opportunities.”

The Parent Reformation strongly denies that the donors influence their organization’s stated mission. Yet, skepticism is still evident in the relationships between the funder and funded.

The first to fall under the scheme of this organization was Adelanto, a poor desert town in California. The city is a conglomerate of low-income minority families. With a per-capita income just under $12,000, Adelanto was the perfect target for the launch of privatization.

After applying pressure, intimidation and the bait and switch techniques on unsuspecting parents the Parent Revolution successfully converted the school into a charter school. After firing and hiring teachers at whim the charter school is set to be opened in August.

The “parent trigger” movement not only influences private education, but diminishes the role of teachers unions by allowing public schools to convert to nonunion charters. Combined, the Parent Revolution, corporate anti-union and privatization donors, and the “parent trigger” legislation have the means and motive to destroy public education.  Likewise, it is hard to see the good in the organization’s mission to empower the parents of failing schools when the nation’s largest anti-labor union and privatization companies act as the bank in their endeavors.

Sara Papantonio is a writer and researcher for Ring of Fire.

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