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December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

Parents revolt against failing schools

By Adrienne Lu



W ASHINGTON— JewishWorldReview.com | In the Hollywood version of parent trigger laws, motivated parents of children trapped in a failing inner city school join forces to take over the institution and save their children's futures.

In reality, trigger laws, which allow parents to intervene in a struggling school, are a lot more complicated and controversial.

Versions of parent trigger laws have been proposed in at least 25 states and adopted by seven, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In real life, parent triggers have been attempted only a handful of times.

California in 2010 adopted the first parent trigger law in the nation. Connecticut, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio and Texas, have since followed, according to Josh Cunningham, a policy specialist at NCSL.

In most states, the laws allow parents to petition for change when a school fails to meet certain requirements, typically underperforming for a number of years. The options for parents vary by state but may include replacing a principal, converting a school to a charter school, or closing a school.

This year, bills to either create new parent trigger laws or modify existing ones — in some cases expanding them to potentially include more struggling schools — are still alive in about a dozen states, while about a half dozen states have already rejected such legislation, Cunningham said.

Parent Revolution, the Los Angeles nonprofit that spurred the original parent trigger law in California and has helped put other parent trigger laws in place across the country, argues the laws empower parents.

"From our perspective, the importance and value of parent trigger is that it gives a legal status and a legal mechanism that parents can invoke and use," said David Phelps, a spokesman for Parent Revolution. "It's important that parents have an equal place at the decision-making table, that they be able to put forward a kids-first agenda."



Opponents say parent trigger laws are a veiled attempt to privatize schools and that they have caught on only because of the money being poured into groups like Parent Revolution, whose funders include the Walton Family Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. (There really was a Hollywood movie, "Won't Back Down," produced by Walden Media, about two mothers, one a teacher, who join forces to save their failing school.)

According to tax documents, Parent Revolution received $7.5 million from 2007 to 2011 to support its efforts.

"We believe in parent empowerment (and) parents having a voice, but we believe the parent trigger doesn't do any of that and is just a stalking horse for privatization," said Julie Woestehoff, co-founder of Parents Across America, a grassroots organization working to improve public education by bringing the voice of parents to education debates.

In addition to Parent Revolution, parent trigger laws have been promoted by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a nonprofit coalition promoting conservative principles that provides model legislation to its members. ALEC claims 2,000 state lawmakers among its membership.

In Florida, a parent trigger bill died in a dramatic tie vote in the state Senate on April 30, echoing the defeat of a similar bill last year also in the Senate. Proponents, including former Gov. Jeb Bush, argued the legislation would have empowered parents. Teachers unions and parents' groups countered the measure was an attempt to privatize education by handing over schools to private charter school operators.


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A parent trigger bill in Georgia sailed through the House this spring but was withdrawn in the Senate in March for lack of votes. Under the bill, parents or teachers could have petitioned to convert public schools into charter schools or to impose a turnaround model, such as removing school personnel or allowing parents to send their children to other public schools.

In Oklahoma, a parent trigger bill that would have allowed parents to convert an underperforming public school to a charter school or fire administrators cleared the Senate but not the House. "Opposition to this bill has little to do with the merits of the policy, because anyone would tell you that a failing school could use the parent involvement and regulatory flexibility this bill facilitates," Republican state Sen. David Holt, a sponsor of the bill, said.

Woestehoff said she feels it will be very difficult for parent trigger advocates to put the laws to use "now that parents are becoming very informed about what it's really about — privatization — and not improving education or giving parents a real voice."

In Louisiana, Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal in June signed into law what might be considered a reverse parent trigger bill, which will allow parents to shift control of a failing school from the state-run Recovery School District back to the local public school system. Louisiana's original parent trigger law, approved by the legislature last year, allows parents to shift control of a failing school to the Recovery School District, which is run by the state's Department of Education and helps manage chronically low-performing schools.

In California, the only state where parents have actually succeeded in activating the so-called trigger, the principal at Weigand Avenue Elementary School in Watts lost her job in May after parents petitioned to oust her. The California law allows parents to activate the trigger if a school has been subject to corrective action under No Child Left Behind for at least one academic year and scores below 800 on the state's Academic Performance Index (on a scale of 200 to 1,000). The law also excludes the lowest-scoring 5 percent of school districts, which qualify for other turnaround strategies.

Weigand's principal, Irma Cobian, was popular among teachers, and her dismissal has generated concerns that the parent trigger law could result in good educators being removed too hastily.

There have been four other attempts at using the parent trigger law in California, according to Parent Revolution, which estimates that about 1,200 schools, or about 11 percent of those in the state, are eligible for the parent trigger. State law limits the total number of parent triggers to 75.

The first attempt, in Compton, came to an end when a judge ruled some of the signatures on the parent petitions invalid. A second attempt, at Haddon Elementary School in Los Angeles, was put on hold by parents who decided to work with the school district. A parent trigger campaign at Desert Trails Elementary School in Adelanto will result in the school being turned over to a nonprofit charter school operator this year. And in another, at 24th Street Elementary School in Los Angeles, parents asked the school district to collaborate with a nonprofit charter school, resulting in the first time a school district opted not to challenge parents working to activate the parent trigger law.

Several attempts sparked bitter controversy, with parents claiming they had been misled by parent trigger organizers.

Because parent trigger laws are so new, there is little research-based evidence on their effectiveness. Even Phelps acknowledged it is too early to tell just how effective parent trigger laws really are.

A 2012 policy memo by the National Education Policy Center, which produces peer-reviewed research on education policy, concluded that parent trigger laws are too new to evaluate. But the center noted a large body of research on the typical outcomes of parent triggers, such as charter schools and governance changes, which indicate that such changes are "not likely to yield any benefits."

Janelle Scott, an associate professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who was one of the authors of the NEPC policy memo, said she would advise lawmakers considering adopting parent trigger laws to "proceed with more deliberation."

Scott said lawmakers should consider the data on charter school performance, for example, which show that while some charter schools outperform public schools, many perform about the same and some fare worse.

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