Exposed: The Billionaire-Backed Group Strong-Arming Parents into Destroying Their Kids' Public Schools
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Dangling citizenship in front of a desperate mother facing deportation—this is what parent empowerment looks like to the billionaires trying to privatize public education. And it appears she was not the only one...
Multiple sources told me that Parent Revolution had propositioned other undocumented Latino immigrants, promising to help resolve their immigration status in return for their support of the parent trigger petition. Help with immigration in exchange for a single signature? It’s an offer that many families must have found difficult to turn down.
I made multiple to attempts to verify these allegations. But no one would talk or even communicate with me — on or off the record. Through a third-party, I was told that they feared retribution from Parent Revolution and did not want to put their families in danger. “One, they are tired. Two, they are scared. Three, they are thinking: ‘What’s the point? The school is already gone’,” explained a parent who had tried to arrange a meeting.
They were scared. And who could blame them?
As undocumented immigrants, they had nothing to gain by talking to me. On the contrary, they had everything to lose. The sprawling private deportation facility located just a few miles north of the school, dedicated to corralling and booting out people just like them, served as a constant reminder of just how much they had to lose, and how easily deportation could happen to them. A speeding ticket is enough to initiate deportation these days, and it doesn’t matter if they have children or family: recent stats show that a quarter of people deported are parents with children who are U.S. citizens.
I could appreciate this kind of fear. My family fled the Soviet Union in 1989, and we spent seven nerve-racking months living in European refugee camps. We had no money, no citizenship and no idea about the future. I was just a kid, but I was deeply affected by the fear, anxiety and insecurity that dominated our lives. We certainly didn’t think we had any rights, or that we were entitled to anything. The most important thing was to keep your head down and not rock the boat.
No wonder Parent Revolution chose Adelanto. Out here it could act with near-impunity.
Even so, there was some pushback. Even the poor don’t like being ripped off.
Armed with the stack of rescissions collected by Lori and Chrissy, Adelanto’s school board invalidated 100 of the 466 original petition signatures submitted by trigger activists, bringing the number below the simple majority required by law. And so on March 2012, Adelanto’s school board unanimously voted to reject Parent Revolution’s petition on grounds it had failed to meet minimum signature requirements.
But it was a short-lived victory.
Parent Revolution lawyered up, and after a year of court battles, forced the Adelanto’s school district to accept the trigger petition. In the summer of 2012, San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge Steve Malone ruled that the school district had no right to reject the petition because California's parent trigger law did not give it authority to rescind signatures. It was a bizarre decision, and didn’t seem to accord with the spirit and letter of California’s Parent Empowerment Law.
But was it valid?
That’s not clear. Adelanto’s cash-strapped school district didn’t appeal the decision. It simply didn’t have the resources to continue a lengthy court fight. Not that it would have continued to fight for very long, even if tired. Shortly after the decision, two parents who had been involved in Parent Revolution won spots on Adelanto’s school board, finally and totally tipping the board’s ideological balance in favor of charter school.