Exposed: The Billionaire-Backed Group Strong-Arming Parents into Destroying Their Kids' Public Schools
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On top of all that, it turned out that the charter school was set up with the help of San Bernardino County Supervisor Bill Postmus, who crashed and burned in that special way only evangelical closet-cases manage to pull off: he was arrested for possession of meth while under investigation for a long list of corrupt dealings and kickbacks. Right before the Adelanto Charter School scandal broke, Postmus pleaded guilty to fourteen felonies, including bribery, conspiracy, extortion and the misappropriation of public funds.
It was big, ugly mess, and it did not make charter schools look very good. So Parent Revolution canvassers did what any honest community organizer would do: they pretended that their petition had nothing to do with charter schools.
"When Parent Revolution came to my door, they explained they wanted to make the school better, get water fountains, the playground set and making sound like they were gonna do a makeover, instead of a takeover,” said Eleanor Medina, who moved to Adelanto 10 years ago from Buena Park in small city in Orange County to retire, and has been helping raise her grandchildren. “They also said that everyone was going to get a computer.”
Other parents report they were told pretty much the same thing: Parent Revolution promised that they were not trying to convert Desert Trails into a charter school, and reassured parents current teachers would not be fired. Organizers also made the dubious claim that if the petition went through, each child was going to receive a laptop to own.
For parents who insisted on giving the petition a closer read, Parent Revolution used a crude bait-and-switch technique: canvassers asked the parents to sign two completely separate petitions, and invoked two different clauses of the parent trigger law. The first petition sought only to introduce reforms and give parents greater power over administering the school. The second petition invoked the full privatization package: firing all the teachers and handing the school over to a private charter- school company (the specific company would be chosen at a later time).
Two petitions? Well, Parent Revolution’s reps explained that the second petition would never be used officially, but only employed as a negotiating tool — a prop that could be used to threaten the school district if it attempted to stall implementing the demands of its first petition.
Chrissy Alvarado, a mother of two students at Desert Trails, says she always thought the two petitions were just a ruse, a way to sow confusion. “They never explained themselves enough for us to understand anything,” she said. “In reality, it was all about the charter.”
She was right.
In early January, Parent Revolution activists announced that they had collected signatures representing 70 percent of the students, and proceeded to submit the petition calling for full charter conversion.
The news outraged Desert Trails parents, but it finally spurred them into action, and the small group emerged to try and stop the petition.
Eleanor Medina couldn’t believe they had the gall to dupe parents like that: "You're talking about my kids' education. They need to go to college. Pretty soon they're gonna need to go to college just to get a Jack in the Box job."
“We didn't know what we could do, because no one had done this before,” Lori explained as she met me for coffee, before heading to an Adelanto planning commission meeting. “We were in overdrive, 24 hours a day, doing nothing but research, pounding the pavement, driving around, having meetings, going crazy. Literally nothing else in life existed how do we beat this, what do we do.”