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School Revolution in California

What's taking place in California's schools is nothing less than a quiet revolution ("A nonprofit that favors school choice offers help to Los Angeles Unified parents," Los Angeles Times, Aug. 15).  The first sign was in 2010 with the passage of the state's "parent trigger" law, which allows disaffected parents to force new campus leadership or conversion to charter status when a majority sign a petition. Since then, a nonprofit called Parent Revolution has been actively recruiting parents to send their children to charter schools.

I have no objection to any nonprofit organization providing information to parents trying to navigate the options open to them.  But Parent Revolution does not stop there.  Its hidden agenda is to funnel students to charter schools.  That would be fine if it came out and openly said so.  But instead it purports to be an objective source of information.  If that were so, then Parent Revolution would also be pointing out traditional public schools that pass muster.

Unfortunately, the latter are the schools of last resort.  By law, they must enroll virtually all who show up at their doors regardless of ability or motivation.  Once enrolled, they cannot be expelled except for the most egregious behavior.  It's anything but a level playing field.  Yet they sometimes outperform the charters, a feat which I consider to be worthy of far more media attention. 

Parental choice is not going to disappear.  Wait lists for enrollment in charter schools in large urban districts are long.  Whether choice across the country takes the form of California's trigger law is beside the point.  Parents demand the best education for their own children.  We can disagree with the choices they make, but we can't deny them the right to do so.

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The opinions expressed in Walt Gardner's Reality Check are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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