Mr. Gibbons’ Report Card: Parent empowerment, transparent transparency and sad, but happy birthdays

Patrick R. Gibbons

MrGibbonsReportCardGloria Romero  

Gloria Romero, a former Democratic majority leader of the California Senate, helped pass a bill that required parents to be informed if their child attended a school in the bottom 10 percent of all public schools in California. If they did, the parents could stick around at the school and try to transform it (for example, by converting it to a public charter school) or transfer to a different public school.

The teacher unions and school districts opposed the bill, sued to stop the program, and continue to fight the program to this very day.

Gloria Romero

Gloria Romero

According to Romero, the state department of education delayed releasing the list of lowest-performing schools until the last minute. With only a few weeks remaining before the transfer deadline, L.A. Unified finally posted the transfer application, but only in English and only online. Districts also denied parent groups from informing parents of their rights at school events such as PTA meetings.

Kudos to Romero and the California Center for Parent Empowerment for highlighting these obstacles and fighting with and on behalf of parents to knock them down.

Grade: Satisfactory

 

Carmen Farina

CFNYCCarmen Farina, the chancellor of New York City Public Schools, recently accused charter schools of pushing out low-performing students just before statewide exams.

Charter schools responded by demanding the chancellor back up her claims with evidence. And the local union president more or less sided with them, saying enrollment data for both charter and district schools should be audited and disclosed. Marcus Winters even took her to task for misreading what little data is available.

Perhaps with some irony, Farina made those remarks while clarifying her position on how charter schools need to be more transparent. Now she has the opportunity to be transparent about her claims.

Grade: Needs Improvement

 

Milwaukee Parental Choice Program

“Polly” Williams

Happy Birthday! The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, America’s longest-running private K-12 school voucher program, is now 25 years old.

The program has not gone without controversies and critics but researchers generally find, at worst, no difference with traditional public schools and, at best, small but positive achievement gains, graduation rates and college attendance for participating students. Importantly, parents and students are happier going to the school of their choice rather than one assigned to them by the government. On a sadder note, Annette “Polly” Williams, a leading black Democrat and school choice leader who pioneered the program recently passed away. Her legacy, however, lives on.

Grade: Satisfactory

 

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