Parent-trigger backers want more from Weingarten

Parent trigger advocates are applying more presure on AFT president Randi Weingarten to pay more penance after an AFT document surfaced in Connecticut that detailed a textbook plan on killing “trigger” legislation. Notably, prominent California Democrats and parent-trigger backers Gloria Romero and Ben Austin have written Weingarten suggesting that simply distancing herself from the Connecticut document is insufficient.

As Romero, a sponsor of California’s trigger law, writes in her letter to the union chief:

I am requesting that you make public all other Power Points that were developed to train AFT members on how to disable and kill parent empowerment legislation that were used in subsequent states where Parent Trigger legislation was introduced. To my count, there have been at least thirteen other states …

… This type of “lesson plan” and strategies are offensive and dismissive to the very individuals who should be fully respected for their goals to further the educational opportunities of their very own children: the parents. I believe you need to go one step further and offer an immediate apology and a commitment to never let something like this happen again.

The Connecticut strategy, emblazoned with AFT’s logo and titled, “How Connecticut Diffused The Parent Trigger,” outlined how AFT leaders in that state worked to “kill the bill” that would have established a parent trigger similar to California’s (The document was originally on AFT’s Web site but has since been removed; Dropout Nation editor RiShawn Biddle copied the presentation and made it available to his readers). Romero also says she was singled out in that strategy and wants that “lesson plan” public as well.

Austin, the executive director of California’s Parent Revolution, wrote to Weingarten saying that:

Over the last year, we have requested on multiple occasions to meet with you and discuss our common agenda. Each time, you have refused to meet. Now, after reading your memo, it has become clear why. You seem to view parent empowerment as a zero-sum game: if parents win, teachers must lose …

… the substance of your plan includes ensuring that parents are “not at the table” when real decisions are made, and creating fake “governance” committees that trick parents into thinking they have power when they actually do not. The fact that this memo has surfaced in the wake of the president of your California affiliate calling the Parent Trigger a “lynch mob” law – and then also refusing to apologize even after civil rights groups demanded it – makes your reaction to this incident all the more troubling.

As much as we have in the past viewed you as a progressive leader and potential partner in kids-first transformation, we cannot have a respectful dialogue with someone who cannot disavow those positions and tactics. If you view parental power as a threat to be “killed,” then we unfortunately don’t have much to talk about.

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BY Adam Emerson

Editor of redefinED, policy and communications guru for Florida education nonprofit