Monday, May 23, 2011

Bad News for School Choice in Compton

A couple months ago, we were excited to report that parents of students in one of California's worst public schools, McKinley Elementary in Compton, had won the right to force a conversion to a charter school under the so-called "parent trigger" law. The local teachers' union and the Compton Unified School District fought the petition (which 61% of parents in the district had signed) by arguing that its signatures were invalid. They were smacked down, however, by a Superior Court Judge, who ruled that the district's rules for verifying the signatures were unconstitutional.

McKinley Elementary: Where Knowledge Goes to Die.
Unfortunately, the AP is now reporting that the status quo is alive and well, and the McKinley parents may be getting the shaft once again. Superior Court Judge Anthony Mohr has issued a tentative ruling invalidating the parents' petition on the grounds that its signatures are undated. Of course, the parent trigger law makes no mention of the date of signatures, only stipulating that the effective date is the day the petition is filed. Yet Mohr agreed with the District's contention that dating each signature was critical to determine whether it corresponded to the parent of a student at the school. To us, this sounds like the District was throwing any piece of crap it could find at a wall, and with the signature dates it found one that stuck. Insofar as the petition violates no written law, we hope that Judge Mohr reconsiders his ruling when he hears additional arguments in the case next month. But for now, we can only applaud the McKinley parents, who have fought hard on behalf of their children and plan to continue doing so. We're not surprised by how poorly they've been treated by the powers that be in California, but we hope they ultimately prevail.


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