Grassroots or astroturf? Parents, be aware!

Here’s just one example of the trickery that “reform” groups like Parent Revolution use to promote their school privatization agenda, from PAA-Florida’s Rita Solnet.

Shirley Ford, a Parent Revolution organizer, while testifying to the Florida Senate Committee on its proposed “Parent Engagement” (parent trigger) bill, said that Parent Revolution was a grassroots group.

Later, under questioning, Ms. Ford was forced to elaborate on her precise role with Parent Revolution, explaining that she was paid to organize parents involving the parent trigger law in her town in California.

When asked the question, “Who is Parent Revolution – How did it start?” Ms. Ford initially said that she started Parent Revolution as a concerned grandmother. She said she wanted to watch out for children in her community.

People in the audience knew the well-publicized truth that the Parent Revolution was founded by a charter school operator, Steve Barr, and many were well aware of the activities of its founder and current CEO, Ben Austin. Audience members visibly reacted to Ms. Ford’s testimony at that point.

An astute senator on the Florida Education Committee then asked a series of shotgun-style questions of Ms. Ford, who then admitted that she was recruited by Parent Revolution, that she was paid to collect signatures in her neighborhood and that she previously had no involvement in the school they were attempting to close.

She further admitted she still worked for Parent Revolution as organizer and that their main office was not in Florida.

Michael Trujillo, the Director of Marketing for Parent Revolution, also testified to this FL Committee. When asked where the parent trigger had been successfully implemented in California, he testified he had “reams and reams” of positive results from the parent trigger law but, alas, he neglected to bring it with him to the Hearing which he flew from CA to attend.

Before leaving the Hearing, a WFSU reporter from Tallahassee approached to ask why a CA group would fly to FL to testify. She inquired who paid their expenses. Ms. Ford said that Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Florida’s Future paid their expenses and escorted them to this Hearing.

Meanwhile real grassroots parents from Florida — those who would be affected by this legislation — were not permitted to speak.

Parents, such as Parents Across America-FL’s Rita Solnet, or 50th No More’s Colleen Wood or a dozen others who left their jobs and children to testify, were not called upon nor allowed to speak at any Hearing on this bill prior to Senators voting.

Florida parents revolted and held a press conference on March 6th. The end result was that parent trigger legislation built into Florida’s “Parent Engagement” bill was defeated by authentic, unfunded Florida grassroots activists.

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