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Ben Austin
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Ben, a proud parent of two young daughters, has served as the Executive Director of Parent Revolution since April 2008 and currently serves as a member of the California State Board of Education. He has dedicated much of his career to fighting for a California where every child can get a great public education. Prior to launching the Parent Revolution, he directed the successful campaign to transform Locke High School from the worst high school in Los Angeles into a college preparatory model of reform. Ben has also served as a Deputy Mayor under Mayor Richard Riordan from 2000-2001, where he helped craft the mayor’s education reform policy; as well as Senior Advisor to Rob Reiner and First 5 California from 2002-2006, where he helped create LAUP (Los Angeles Universal Preschool), a $600 million preschool program rooted in high standards, accountability and parental choice that serves 10,000 low-income children every year.

Ben has also worked on numerous Democratic presidential campaigns, served as the Communications Director for the 2000 Democratic National Convention Host Committee, served in the Clinton White House in a variety of roles between 1994-1999, and was an early supporter of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. He is a native of Venice, and is a graduate of UC Berkeley and Georgetown Law School. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Tracy, and their two daughters, Fiona and Eloise.

Entries by Ben Austin

Playground Rules for the Public Square

(1) Comments | Posted July 18, 2014 | 12:48 PM

As an advocate empowering public school parents to turn around failing schools, I often encounter personal attacks and outlandish conspiracy theories about why I do the work I do. As the parent power movement has developed and matured, these attacks have grown more intense and more focused on the colleagues...

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Community Power Saved LAUSD Superintendent Dr. Deasy

(5) Comments | Posted November 11, 2013 | 2:21 PM

Last week, something extraordinary happened

Grassroots organizations across Los Angeles organized and fought against powerful special interests and long odds. For one single moment the people of Los Angeles stood together for the simple proposition that we must elevate our kids above our politics. And the people won.

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National Parents Day -- Celebrating Parent Power

(0) Comments | Posted July 25, 2013 | 4:11 PM

As parents across the nation get ready to observe National Parents Day on July 28th, there's a new and important reason to celebrate. For the first time in our nation's history, parents have successfully embarked on a new era of involvement in their children's education. Through the groundbreaking Parent Empowerment...

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A Kids First Dialogue: Open Letter to Dr. Diane Ravitch

(122) Comments | Posted June 7, 2013 | 12:48 PM

Dear Professor Diane Ravitch:

Parents, educators, and education advocates have a lot in common when it comes to a kids-first first agenda. But we can never seize that common ground if those with whom we disagree are deemed to be "evil" and sentenced to Hell, as you did last week...

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The Reality Behind 'Won't Back Down's' Story of Parental Empowerment

(0) Comments | Posted September 4, 2012 | 2:46 PM

A parent's effort to transform a failing school is the subject of a highly anticipated new motion picture called Won't Back Down. "Inspired by actual events," the movie tells the story of a parent, played by Maggie Gyllenhaal, who joins forces with a teacher, played by Viola Davis, to fix...

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Desert Trails Elementary School Makes History

(3) Comments | Posted January 18, 2012 | 4:24 PM

Last Thursday, the parents of Desert Trails Elementary School -- a small, working-class desert community roughly 80 miles northeast of Los Angeles -- made history. They turned in Parent Trigger petitions representing 70% of parents at the school, demanding reform rooted in what's good for their kids, not...

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No Magic Solutions

(25) Comments | Posted December 28, 2011 | 2:52 PM

My daughter believes in magic.

When our home's power went out last week because of a storm, she cast a spell to turn it back on. I love her magical world. I love jumping into it with her because -- even if it's just for a second -- I...

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Diane Ravitch: Proving Why Parents Need a Revolution

(8) Comments | Posted October 18, 2011 | 10:31 PM

At the beginning of October, Dr. Diane Ravitch launched a broadside against Parent Trigger and the parent empowerment movement, calling it a "stealth assault" and a "deceptive scheme" to undermine public education. She employed a series of personal attacks, half-truths and conspiracy theories that have come to characterize...

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When Adults Need to Act Like Grown Ups

(3) Comments | Posted August 23, 2011 | 4:26 PM

Since the Republican presidential debate in Iowa, commentators have marveled at the unanimous declaration from every candidate that they would veto a budget deal which included $10 of spending cuts for every $1 of tax increases. While polarization inside the Beltway is certainly not news, that moment served as a...

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Parent Empowerment and Randi Weingarten

(4) Comments | Posted August 11, 2011 | 2:59 AM

After journalists and bloggers from around the country reported on the American Federation of Teachers' (AFT) secret plot to kill Parent Trigger, Parent Unions from New York, Connecticut, Texas and our own in California gathered on a conference call this week to demand an apology from AFT's President...

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Parents Enact Trigger Laws Nationwide

(159) Comments | Posted June 22, 2011 | 8:50 PM

It's been seven months since the brave parents at McKinley Elementary School approached Compton Unified and handed in the petitions that sounded off a revolution that has the entire country talking. Today, they know that, starting this fall, they will get the quality education they fought...

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Agreeing on What's Best for Kids

(8) Comments | Posted May 19, 2011 | 12:27 PM

For much of this young century, we've heard that reformers can't support tax increases, or that unions don't support reform. We've faced false choices between charter schools and district schools. And we've seen our debate about the future of public education devolve into an ideological battle that means...

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McKinley Elementary Parents Continuing Their Fight for Change

(32) Comments | Posted January 10, 2011 | 11:30 AM

I'm going to tell you a rather startling fact: Since submitting their historic Parent Trigger signatures (representing over 61 percent of their school) to the Compton Unified School District over a month ago, the parents of McKinley Elementary have not heard a word back from their school district.

Not one...

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Decision Time for Governor Brown

(31) Comments | Posted January 3, 2011 | 2:35 PM

As the Executive Director of Parent Revolution, our organization has always had one simple mantra -- it is time to make decisions in public education based on what is best for children, not adults. 

We believe that education policymakers need to start casting every single vote as if it would literally...

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The Parent Trigger: a new Right for the Parents of California

(4) Comments | Posted October 21, 2010 | 1:41 AM

As I described in my last post, the Parent Trigger is a brand new California law that gives parents -- for the first time in the history of America -- the formal, legal power to transform their failing school simply through community organizing. This law represents not just a new...

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The Wait is Over

(7) Comments | Posted September 24, 2010 | 1:28 PM

This Friday marks the opening of "Waiting for 'Superman,' " the latest documentary from Davis Guggenheim (director of "An Inconvenient Truth"). The movie follows five families whose traditional public schools are failing their children and their desperate, heart-wrenching quests to enroll their children in better public schools. Each of the...

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