The Chicago Tribune today features a strong editorial on the prospects for school reform in Chicago, with parent empowerment as its lynchpin. Noting the recent struggle in Compton, Calif., between parents and a recalcitrant, dysfunctional school district, the Tribune‘s editors write:
[The parents] learning that parents who put their children first are seen as the enemy by the education status quo. Teachers and school officials in Compton have launched a furious effort to block them from using the law to determine their kids’ future.
This is interesting because Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel championed just such a parent-trigger law during the campaign. Under his proposal, a majority of parents in a poorly performing school could shut down the school, bring in new administrators and teachers, and adopt a charter school or other new model.
Is the Compton fight, which is headed to court, reason for Chicagoans to be wary of adopting a Parent Trigger of their own? Not at all!
“One big difference between Chicago and Compton,” as the editorial helpfully reminds us, is “If Emanuel’s idea became law here, the Chicago school board presumably wouldn’t stand in the way of a parent-powered shake-up of a school. That’s because the board is appointed by the mayor.”
“Emanuel will have to become chief cheerleader in Springfield for a reform agenda,” the editorial argues. The Parent Trigger, tenure reform, performance reviews, merit pay, and a host of other reforms will need to be on the agenda. The unions and other education establishment interests won’t simply roll over and play dead. “As the parents are learning in Compton, you can make some powerful foes when you put kids first.”