Parent Trigger And Why We Need To Talk [Let’s Be A Solution]

Jose VilsonEducation, Jose10 Comments

I rarely get the opportunity to have my opinion come in direct conflict with an outstanding actress of any repute, so excuse me if I brag via quote today. The following excerpt was published in the independent media outlet In These Times, written by Josh Eidelson:

Vilson says he was particularly disappointed by Viola Davis’ participation, given The Help star’s past comments about wanting to elevate the voices of often-ignored domestic workers.

“You should also see the alignment between that and what’s going on with teachers,” says Vilson, “and the bad tone that’s being sent throughout the country.”

“I’m sorry,” Davis told the New York Times, “I just know if you don’t have a strong advocate for a child, they’re not going to make it.”

The New York Times reported that the trigger law portrayed in Won’t Back Down differs from its real life counterparts in a key respect: Unlike standard parent triggers laws which require just a majority of parents’ signatures to trigger a turnaround, the law in the movie requires support from a majority of a school’s teachers as well. Asked why, Weil told In These Times, “It was important that the law used be fictional because the film is not based on a specific actual law,” but instead “draws on many situations throughout the country.”

Obviously, we didn’t actually respond to each other, but I might as well have. I anticipated that some of the interviews regarding the two-pronged events of the movie Won’t Back Down and the Teachers Rock! concert sponsored by Walmart will have the same soundbites about helping kids and giving parents advocacy.

The crux of my argument against Won’t Back Down specifically is this: we should recognize that this movie will have a similar effect to what Waiting for Superman had on the general zeitgeist. While not very popular, WfSset a precedent for how many times a non-educator could ask a teacher (namely me) about what really happens under the presumption that the movie has more than an ounce of truth to it.

It had very little, but people bought it anyways, because the movie told them so.

I do get it, though. Parents across the country are in fact frustrated. So are many others. Many public schools aren’t working for kids, and the bureaucracy can frustrate even the most patient parent. It often feels like they get the run-around, and when they do protest, they’re often told about how poorly their child performs and that nothing can be done no matter what they say. Too often, even my colleagues fail to see that side, the side where we as educators have to be complicit in the crap when we rather not be.

Let’s work together.

Instead of supporting “parent trigger,” which replaces one school for another and turns the public school into a non-unionized charter school, let’s assure that children get experienced, high-quality educators who won’t leave after 2-3 years. Let’s have answers, and, if not, let’s work towards creating them. Let’s give the idea of a “community school” one more look over, and see how schools often provide a neighborhood spirit where poverty can’t.

Let’s be the solution.

How do we suppose students and parents get their own agency from a company that doesn’t believe in workers’ rights or fair business practices? Come on now. I’m not backing down from this vision.

Neither should you.

Jose, who has three days left on this book giveaway!

Comments 10

  1. Pingback: Engaging Parents In School… » “Parent Trigger And Why We Need To Talk [Let's Be A Solution]

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  2. And if the people they represent haven’t cared about kids, parents or community for centuries until this very moment that they leveraged it so they could make millions and billions carpetbagging education, is that a sign of good motive?

  3. I just don’t understand. Teachers don’t make a lot of money. They obviously don’t teach because it’s lucrative. They do it despite the fact that it pays so poorly.

    How will my child’s education improve if we continue to chip away at the little bit of economic security that teachers now have?

    Will my son become a better student if the person who teaches him is constantly worried about money, job security, and being part of the school in the future?

    Will my child’s teacher somehow become more focused and “better at teaching” if we browbeat her, call her “lazy” and “stupid”, imply that she’s “just doing it for summers off and a fat pension when she retires”?

    – Showing teachers even less respect won’t produce better students. Okay?

    – Taking away the rights that the teacher’s union provides won’t make our kids work harder and achieve more. Okay?

    – Allowing outside interests—often backed by the richest people who NEVER have their kids in our schools—to come in and brainwash 51% of the current parents in a school, using deceptive election techniques and false promises, is NOT a way to improve our schools. Okay?

    – Harvard will not be in my child’s future—and nor will the state university extension campus—if his teachers are paid no better than workers at Burger King. Okay?

    – My child will not become a better student if all of his teachers in the future are kids right out of college, with little or no education background, making minimum wage, with lousy benefits and zero representation. Okay?

    You’re advocating an educational system where teachers can be fired when they “get too old” or “voted for someone I don’t like” or “wouldn’t accept my invitation for an intimate, late night dinner”. And there will be zero process of appeal or any attempt to hear the other side of the story.

    The fact that ALL of us don’t have any due process before we’re fired, or a fair hearing when we’re accused of some infraction, or a decent pension at the end of our careers doesn’t mean it should be eliminated for those remaining few who do. Okay?

    Stripping teachers of their union representation, their professional standing, and their personal dignity will NOT make my child the scholar I want him to be. Why would anyone assume otherwise.


    We’re playing right into the hands of the worst elements of our society when we let ourselves be brainwashed into hating our teachers and the very concept of free, universal education.

    As a parent—I’ve never been a teacher, and I’ve never had a relative that was a teacher—I want the best, not just for “my kid”, but for ALL kids. He can’t succeed if everyone around him is failing.

    And none of these beautiful children will succeed if the right-wingers and billionaires behind the push for charters, vouchers, triggers and privatization succeed in their plans to make public schools a thing of the past.

    Let’s stand and fight, parents: The time to be counted is now!

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  4. Pingback: Parents United for Responsible Education » Blog Archive » PSAT for 8-14-12: Let’s not back down!

  5. Thus the reason vouchers, school choice, homeschooling and private school education will become even more appealing. Individually, parents are looking out for their own children, and more often than not, these are not parents of great means. But, they see public education getting worse, not better, during their child’s educational career, and are opting to make tthe sacrifice.

  6. Pingback: Teachers (from TFA, at least) Rock (the rest need to be fired) Concert! | Gary Rubinstein's Blog

  7. Pingback: Engaging Parents In School… » The Best Posts & Articles On Parent Trigger Movie “Won’t Back Down”

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