School Choice: Pulling the Trigger in California

California has a two-year-old “trigger” law allowing parents whose children attend persistently low-performing schools to petition for change.

After a bitter fight, parents in Adelanto, California, north of Los Angeles recently became the first ones to successfully use the law to force a change. They succeeded in petitioning for the creation of a charter elementary school in their community by the start of the 2013 school year.

I suppose I should be happy about that. But I’m not. I feel like Howard Beale, the fictional character in the 1976 movie “Network” – mad as hell.

Oh, I’m happy the parents won. But I’m mad as hell that they had to fight for the right to have some choice in the school their children attend. I’m mad as hell that the school board in their community fought so hard to keep them from having a choice. And I’m mad as hell that we’re putting up with poor-performing schools all over the United States.

Howard Beale wasn’t just “mad as hell.” The rest of his rant was “and I am not going to take this any more.”

I feel the same way. I don’t want to take it any more, either. But the only way we’ll win this fight and not have to take it any more is for enough of us to raise our voices to demand a change.

Not incremental change. Our goal at End The Education Plantation is to give every parent in America – regardless of where they live, how much money they have or the color of their skin – the opportunity to choose a school that offers their children a quality education.

But back to the parents in Adelanto. An article in The Hill, a well-known Washington-based blog, describes their story as “a triumph of community over bureaucracy and political inaction. After months of attempting to undermine and delegitimize parents’ demands, the Adelanto School District was ordered in court to comply with the parents’ petition to establish a nonprofit charter school.”

The byline on the article? Los Angeles Antonio R. Villaraigosa.

Some more quotes from Mayor Villaraigosa’s article:

  • “In a polarized political climate, this is an issue that Democrats and Republicans should agree on.”
  • “The children of this country deserve more than the failing schools too many are stuck in today. They deserve to be educated in world-class institutions led by the best and brightest. Our children must not lose out on that opportunity, and we cannot allow it to be taken away from them. Because, if we do, we’re not living up to the America we believe in. And that’s not an America we will accept.”

I agree completely with those sentiments. Our schools are broken. It’s a national problem. And it’s a moral issue. That’s not living up to the America I believe in, either.

We’re a grassroots organization. We’re committed to solving this problem. But we can’t do it alone. We need your help. Get involved. The only way we can win this fight is for enough of us to raise our voices so that our elected officials can no longer ignore us.

John Conlin

John Conlin is a self-employed management consultant who lives in Littleton, Colorado. He started End The Education Plantation because he’s seen first-hand the harm being caused by our nation’s schools and believes it’s time to do something about that. Join our email list for continuing updates. And get involved. We’re a grassroots organization.

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Who We Are

End the Education Plantation is a temporary nonprofit organization founded by John Conlin of Littleton, Colorado, because he’s seen first-hand the harm being caused by our nation’s schools. We are a grassroots organization with one and only one goal: Give every parent in America the opportunity to send their children to schools offering a quality education.

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