DFER's Blog - DFER California Blog
National Call to Discuss Legal Right of Parental Choice
March 18, 2013
March 18th, 2013
Devin Boyle | (202) 445-0416 | Devin@dfer.org
Gloria Romero | (323) 379-3450 | Gloria@dfer.org
National Parent & Community Leaders Join Education Reform Advocates to Discuss Legal Right of Parental Choice on National Conference Call
National parent and community leaders will join education reform advocates for the “Our Children, Our Choice” national conference call to discuss the legal rights of parents to provide their children with the best education possible.
Despite parents wanting the best for their children, many are unaware of the educational options available to them. The aim of this call is to inform parents of their legal rights of parental choice and mobilize activists to spread the message of choice to their communities.
The event is co-hosted by Connecticut Parents Union, State of Black Connecticut, Democrats for Education Reform California, Moms for School Choice, Texas Parents Union, and the New York City Parents Union.
- What: National Parental Choice Conference Call & Webinar
- When: Thursday, March 21st, 2013, 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM (EST)
- Where: Call-in number: (559) 546-1880 - Access Code: 904418
- Who: Parents from across the country, including Hamlet Garcia, a Pennsylvania parent facing up to seven years imprisonment for education theft; Dr. Howard Fuller, Black Alliance for Educational Options; Dr. Steve Perry, Principal, Capital Preparatory Magnet School, Hartford, Connecticut and best selling author; Sen. Gloria Romero (Ret.), author of nation’s first Parent Trigger law and California State Director of Democrats for Education Reform (DFER); Rep. Alisha Thomas Morgan, author of public school choice legislation in Georgia, sponsor of “Amendment One: The Charter School Amendment,” and sponsor of the “Parent Teacher Empowerment Act.”
Pivotal Victory in Los Angeles!
March 6, 2013
Just a quick update on DFER’s Ed Reformer of the Month for February.
In yesterday’s critical primary election, Mónica García, the courageous LAUSD board president, held off her opponents to win reelection!
Mónica faced multiple challengers in this election, precisely because she has demonstrated the courage to fight for reforms. Status quo forces mobilized in a big way, but so did the education reform community. We are thrilled that she will remain a bold voice on the LAUSD board. For more about her record, click here.
Thank you to those members of the DFER universe who generously supported Mónica’s campaign in the past weeks. And, congratulations to Mónica García!
Joe and Gloria
DFER Blog | DFER's Chavous and Romero - Secretary Duncan: Open Investigation on Residency Laws
February 11, 2013
Last September, another parent was arrested for 'theft of educational services,’ this time in Montgomery Country, PA. National organizations are calling on Secretary Duncan to open an investigation on residency laws and parental rights to safe and high-quality schools for their children. DFER's Kevin Chavous and Gloria Romero have joined the fight. For more, see letter below.
Foot-dragging on school reform
February 4, 2013
Gov. Brown resists efforts to collect data on teacher performance.
By Gloria Romero
(Published in the Orange Country Register, February 4th, 2013)
Faster than a speeding bullet train, Gov. Jerry Brown is headed on a collision course with the Obama administration.
Embedded in his State of the State address last week were backhanded swipes at fellow Democrats President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. The governor lashed out at "distant authorities cracking the whip" on education, and he berated reforms "designed from afar." It's a battle he will not - and should not - win.
What accounts for this clash? The Obama administration has been bullish on demanding accountability and reforms in America's school systems. Most notably, state education officials have been warned that they will be denied federal funding if they fail to move forward on key measures linked to closing student achievement gaps. Reforms include dropping artificial firewalls preventing states from linking teacher performance to student performance outcomes, more accountable teacher evaluation systems and lifting restrictions on publicly funded, independently operated charter schools.
The Obama administration has been steadfast in shaking up the culture of complacency in state educational bureaucracies, refusing to submit to political pressure from special interest groups intent on obscuring data and allowing adults to keep their jobs even in schools functioning as "dropout factories." California was told that "the check would no longer simply be in the mail."
The Race to the Top program was created to jump-start multistate reforms. No reform, no money. States were challenged to "do the impossible" and begin challenging their orthodox and calcified education bureaucracies to enact overdue changes. To do so, they often had to tackle entrenched political special interests. But changes were made.
While some laws were enacted, most notably the Parent Trigger law I authored, which empowers parents of kids assigned to chronically underperforming schools to force improvement, reform stalled in California. In fact, California's teacher evaluation systems are so broken and deficient that the reform group Students Matter has sued to force repeal of five statutes dealing with teacher tenure, dismissal and seniority-based layoffs.
Absent needed reforms, the Obama administration denied the Brown administration's cries to keep sending more money even while ignoring the heavy lifting of making changes to promote student learning and teacher effectiveness. Secretary Duncan denied Sacramento's appeal for a federal waiver from complying with No Child Left Behind provisions.
While, imperfect, NCLB is the strongest tool we have to ensure accountability and oversight of progress in closing student achievement gaps. NCLB depends on the collection and use of data - sharing that with the people who pay for local schools: parents.
Gov. Brown has displayed a seeming disdain of the use of data, which he reiterated in his State of the State address. His administration all but torpedoed the long-overdue building of a state database - even returning millions of dollars to Washington for that purpose.
Education reform will continue nationally, putting added pressure on California. Increasingly, Democratic and Republican governors and mayors are unafraid to embrace these reforms.
Gov. Brown should recognize we cannot have a strong, golden state without strong schools, and that reaching such a goal, in a state recognized for its high-tech economy, should include collecting and utilizing data to close the achievement gap.
School Choice = Options
January 28, 2013
By Gloria Romero, DFER CA State Director
As National School Choice Week kicked off in LA on Friday with the Whistle Stop Train Tour, I was reminded of countless conversations I’ve had about the best ways to improve the academic performance of California’s kids.
Throughout my tenure as a state senator, California struggled to provide all of its students with a high-quality education. According to the recently released Quality Counts Report by Education Week, California is ranked 33rd in terms of state academic performance.
What I’ve learned over the years is that there is no one silver bullet. I have found, however, that school choice can play a significant role in improving the success of our students.
The vast majority of California’s students attend public schools. Up until 1992 when the first public charter school law was enacted, parents did not have a lot of options for where to send their kids to school. Many had to settle for whatever school landed in their district, regardless of quality.
While in office, I authored the state’s Parent Trigger law, which enables parents to come together to transform their kids’ chronically low performing schools, and the state’s Open Enrollment Act, which provides students stuck in low-achieving schools with the option to enroll in a higher performing school. These laws followed the onset of public charter schools in the 90s and together they have greatly expanded the pool of educational options in California. The state now leads the nation in the number of charter schools with approximately 1,000, which account for just under 10 percent of the public schools in our state.
Public charter schools and open enrollment policies have given many families more opportunities for their kids. And, when you’re a family facing the possibility of having to send your kid to a failing school because of your zip code, that’s a blessing.
Charter schools and open enrollment are not a panacea. But what they do provide, particularly for students living in low-income areas with poor-performing neighborhood schools, are options. Many of these options have the potential to provide low-income students with a better chance of success.
Camino Nuevo Academy #2 public charter school in Los Angeles, for example, is one such school that is producing high success rates for its students. At Camino, where 95% of kids are on free or reduced lunch, 83% of students are proficient in Math and 85% are proficient in English. These scores are close to double the state average. Celebrating school choice means celebrating the fact that families have the power to send their kids to schools like Camino Nuevo Academy #2.
Unfortunately, not every family has a high-performing public charter school in their area or is eligible for open enrollment. Other families are unaware of their options or are forced to place their kids on waiting lists to attend a high-performing charter school due to a lack of space. But these are not the only obstacles facing parents. School choice options and the laws that create them are under regular attack from special interests supporting the status quo.
As a former state senator, education activist, and now California state director of Democrats for Education Reform, I’ve focused much of my career on changing the status quo and on improving educational outcomes for California’s kids. It is my hope that through National School Choice Week, we can spread the message about the necessity for high-quality school choice options.