Reprinted from The Hechinger Report
About nine months ago, at a small park playground a few hundred feet from their children’s struggling school, a group of parents chanted, cheered and delivered passionate speeches about their growing frustration with Desert Trails Elementary.
That Jan. 12 park rally — which drew a throng of camera crews and reporters from around the state to the tiny desert city of Adelanto, Calif. — marked the beginning of a bitter battle in the national spotlight. That was when the Desert Trails Parent Union announced its petition to use the so-called “parent trigger” law to force a major overhaul of a school. They hoped to become the first parent group in the nation to do so.
On Thursday, that same park is set to become a makeshift polling place where those parents will make history. With a court ruling last week permitting the vote to go forward, parents who signed the petition last winter now have the chance to cast a ballot on the charter school operator they want to take over their neighborhood school next fall. As permitted by law, the vote won’t include parents who opposed the charter conversion or declined to be part of the petition process.
“For the first time, a group of parents is going to take back power of the educations of their own kids and select a high-quality nonprofit to transform their failing school,” said Ben Austin, executive director of Parent Revolution, the Los Angeles nonprofit that is bankrolling the parent union. The little local election, Austin said, represents a “monumental day for the parent power movement.” Parent Revolution estimates that less than 200 parents will be eligible to vote this week.
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