During an online discussion tonight on the possibility of a parent trigger Metro Council member Emily Evans tweeted:
Note that she did not include teachers in the trigger equation of being "driven bw district and parents". That exclusion seems par for the ambivalent course that trigger fans seem to tee off on. Triggers channel parent anger not in democratic or progressive ways, but in ways that promote privatization of public education and increase public subsidies for private enterprise. The trigger is a deliberate wedge between organized parents and organized teachers, both of whom can usually be brought together to act for the greater good of public school kids. It is divide and conquer, and the conquerors are partisan politicians angling for influence and wealthy corporations drooling at tax revenues. So, Ms. Evans' omission of teachers is not inconsequential in my opinion.
And then there is that unabashedly curious and deliciously contradictory claim she makes that "this acrimony" (by which I assume she means the controversy engendered at every stop around the country by the parent trigger tour) is not of Nashville itself. The parent trigger is an unrealized project that started in California by charter school leadership shortly after former Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger passed education reform legislation. The group founded by a charter school leadership to promote it, Parent Revolution, is not even located east of the Rockies, let alone east of Little Rock.
The parent trigger "movement" itself is astroturf alien to Nashville, and yet, the kumbaya that Emily Evans predicts can happen with a trigger inspired from the outside is somehow indigenous and home-grown? Maybe she is doubling down that certain voices in Karl Dean's Nashville will be ignored or yelled down and that the debate will not turn against her bid to bring charter schools to wealthy Belle Meade. Otherwise, her minimizing of local opposition to the parent trigger (which is as honestly found as her chosen hard sell) seems to me at my most charitable moment utterly passive-aggressive.
I'm originally from Texas, so I guess I am ultimately an out-of-towner. I have lived in Nashville half of my life (since 1989), but maybe I still don't qualify as local. However, I do have two daughters both of whom were born in Nashville. My daughters attended or are attending Metro public schools. So, perhaps being the parent of these two MNPS daughters should qualify me to take issue with Ms. Evans' latest pet project without the insinuation that my dissent, that our dissent is not authentically Nashville.
I have skin in this game and I am a Nashvillian. No degree of gainsaying by charter promoters will change the fact that I am here and I will speak out prompted by nobody from the outside.
CM Evans has gone from being one the bolder mavericks on Metro Council to one of the most risk-averse members in my book. She struck me as an uncritical advocate of charter schools back when the Great Hearts project started taking flight. I've not been this disappointed in her since she voted for Eric Crafton's English Only. It seems her tenure on council, which for a couple of years roared like a lion on funding the new convention center, is ending about as gritty as a lamb.
Pushing through a parent trigger in Nashville is not going to give parents more power simply by flipping a bona fide school (in Evans' district the average school would not be facing challenges of serving working class or impoverished families) to a privately-run charter school. This needs to be heard going away: the parents may end up left out of the equation after the trigger is squeezed. And there are devils they do not know lying in wait. If this is to be a fair debate on parent trigger it cannot be stacked in favor of the promoters to the exclusion of the critics or of the risks involved. Emily Evans at least owes the public debate more than trying to sway it from her position of influence with prejudiced outsider/insider spin.
UPDATE: In a tweet earlier tonight from the Nashville screening of the parent trigger promotional flick, "Won't Back Down," Nashville City Paper reporter Joey Garrison tweeted:
This film paints teachers' unions as out-of-touch with the wrong priorities, and characterizes school districts as bureaucratic wrecks.
His observation is consistent with what I wrote earlier about the ill will trigger proponents tend to bear toward unions.