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Saving the California Dream

Saving the California Dream: 'Parent Trigger' Profiles

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Los Angeles, CA -

(FOX 11) In December 2010, under a then, new state law, parents united in the city of Compton and signed a petition for change at a failing elementary school.

The move was part of California's "Parent Trigger" law, which allows parents to submit a majority petition to transform schools languishing in the bottom ten percent of the state.

Our investigative producer Heidi Cuda was on the bus with the parents, who hand-delivered the signatures to Compton's superintendent, and she says that bus was filled with parents and children, who were hopeful they'd see big changes.

Parents and the leaders of Parent Revolution, an education reform group who backed the "parent trigger" law, ended up in court over the Compton battle and many parents enrolled their children at a newly formed charter school.

Three other parent groups have subsequently pulled the "trigger" in Adelanto, Los Angeles and Watts. The Adelanto fight also ended up in the courts, but this time the parents were able to get a charter group to take over operations. In Los Angeles, parents at 24th Street Elementary School successfully petitioned LAUSD to collaborate with Crown Prep charter to operate the school together.

Parents at Weigand Elementary School in Watts are the most the recent group to organize and deliver a petition, and they say it's been a tough fight so far.

"The courage it takes to sign a petition when you know there's going to be a battle is tremendous," says Alfonso Flores, a former LAUSD "Teacher of the Year" who says he was so inspired by the Compton fight he quit his job to work for Parent Revolution. "As a teacher and a principal, I was heartbroken to see a lot of decisions that were being made were not geared toward the success of our kids."

He says he saw Parent Revolution as a way to level the playing field when it comes to education.

"This is all the parents have right now, and so yes, it's one school at a time, but it's better than nothing," he says.

Flores says he's been working with parents in Watts for a year, and he prepares them for what they'll face when they challenge the status quo.

"These parents work 12 and 14 days, and they do it for a simple vision," he says. "It's to transform these schools. They don't give up."

In each of the movements, a handful of parents step up to become leaders and Llury Garcia is leading the charge in Watts.

Garcia, who suffered a stroke in February and sees doctors daily for a heart condition, says she understand the risks but realize that parents have come to rely on her.

"I think I was put here for a reason, and that's what I'm trying to do," says Garcia, the mother of an 8-year-old girl attending Weigand. "I want to show people I can do something. My goal is to stay positive and not be scared. That's my message to everybody out here. Just stay focused because your kids come first."

 

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