Democratic tensions over school choice, parent trigger in Charlotte

DNC2012 logo2Like the Democratic Party platform on education, this is no surprise: Democratic tension over school choice and parental empowerment is on display at in Charlotte. But some of the developments and statements are still worth logging in.

StudentsFirst co-sponsored a special screening of the new movie “Won’t Back Down” at the DNC yesterday, just as it did at the RNC in Tampa last week. And in the panel discussion that followed, Ben Austin, executive director of Parent Revolution, told the audience that the parent trigger law – upon which the movie is loosely based – is a progressive idea aimed at giving parents more power to right struggling schools. According to coverage of the panel by Education Week’s Politics K-12 blog:

The laws allow parents to “unionize and collectively bargain, just like teachers’ unions,” said Austin, who served in the Clinton White House. “Parent trigger fundamentally makes public schools more public. … We need to be modern 21st-century progressives” who stand for government working.

To be sure, people like Austin and former California state Sen. Gloria Romero have tried, mightily, to dispel the notion that the trigger is a right-wing creation, but the myth persists. In June, the U.S. Conference of Mayors unanimously endorsed the parent trigger idea, and among the big-city Democrats who led the charge was Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Villaraigosa is chairman of the Democratic National Convention this year, as the Huffington Post notes in this piece over the weekend. He’s also a former teachers union organizer. Wrote the HuffPo: “It is hard to paint the school reform movement as a right-wing conspiracy. Support for taking on teachers’ unions is growing in Democratic and liberal circles.”

More DNC coverage of the growing divide between Dems and teachers unions in the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Times.