Parents fight for better schools

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If a majority of parents join in that effort, they can choose from one of at least four school transformation options: new leadership, conversion to a charter school, reconstitution of the school with new staff, or school closure. These laws are powerful tools that force education officials to heed parents’ calls for change.

In Los Angeles, we have recognized that without parent engagement, school improvement efforts will not succeed. As part of our Public School Choice initiative -- designed to turn around low-performing schools -- we require educator teams to collaborate with parents. And through the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, a nonprofit I established to accelerate achievement at our highest need schools, we launched the Parent College to empower parents with the tools and skills they need to support their children’s education. These initiatives are critical pieces in our overall strategy to improve Los Angeles schools.

And we’ve seen results. The number of local schools meeting California’s academic performance standard has more than doubled and the number of low-scoring schools has dropped from 32 percent to 9 percent. While we celebrate this progress, we also recognize that our work won’t be finished until all students graduate from high school ready for college and careers.

That’s why, when I was president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, I introduced a bi-partisan resolution in support of the parent trigger law. That resolution passed with unanimous consent because America’s mayors understand that parents must be a part of the equation in improving our schools. We’re fighting for the parent trigger law and other critical reforms because we know that education is critical to the futures of our cities and our nation.

In a polarized political climate, this is an issue that Democrats and Republicans should agree on. It’s an issue we must build consensus around because it empowers our parents in the name of lifting up our kids. It allows a concerned community to work with educators, have their voices heard, and ultimately fix under-performing schools. The parent trigger gives us yet another tool to build that brighter future for our students that we all seek.

The children of this country deserve more than the failing schools too many are stuck in today. They deserve to be educated in world-class institutions led by the best and brightest. Our children must not lose out on that opportunity, and we cannot allow it to be taken away from them. Because, if we do, we’re not living up to the America we believe in.  And that’s not an America we will accept. 

Villaraigosa is the 41st mayor of Los Angeles.