Cross-posted on who-cester.blogspot.com
Grassroots: of or pertaining to society at the local level rather than at the center of political activity especially as contrasted with the leadership or elite of a political party, social organization, etc
A memo from Jonah Edelman has been making the rounds of Stand for Children in Massachusetts (and one assumes nationwide). Edelman is the CEO and founder of Stand for Children. It demonstrates how very far away Stand has come from that march on Washington for children.
He writes of the need to be “more ambitious” in an agenda “to concretely improve student outcomes.” (Note: whenever anyone speaks of “concretely” improving anything in education, they’re inevitably going to lead you to test scores) He writes of policy “derived from best practices and data-driven research” (something we have yet to see at the state or national level, and certainly nothing that has yet been supported by Stand for Children).
He then lays out five principles, in phrasing that one could easily find on on a memo written by Arne Duncan. Note, first, the dismissal of the poverty in the first line (how about organizing around fixing poverty, which has everything to do with the so-called ‘achievement gap’?). It’s all well and good to say there should be no gap, but as poverty is a direct cause of the gap, this is a nonsensical statement.
Not much of a quibble with education having something to do with the rest of one’s life, ‘though exceptions abound.
The boldface in the third and fourth options line up quite nicely with the so-called “reform” happening in the strong mayor cities and in Race to the Top, all driven, one notes, by those who have no or very little experience in education, little patience for research, and often no respect for parents. These are spelling out on the ground to firing faculty at low-income urban schools, extended day, state takeovers, common core standards, and lots of high-stakes testing.
The “entrenched, well-funded political opposition and bureaucratic inertia” includes, of course, the ever-vilified teachers’ unions (and often teachers themselves), school boards, and basically anyone who thinks that maybe the national ed reform effort might be heading in the wrong direction (read, Diane Ravitch, et al). Remarkably, of course, this often parallels the groups that are closest to children and their education.
In terms of the “successful campaigns,” note the inclusion of charter schools as a victory, despite reassurances in Worcester to the contrary. And the “school-based innovation” would be firing the principals at Union Hill and Chandler Elementary (and at the schools at which this has happened elsewhere in the state).
The clarification of the “issue process” clarifies this: sometimes there isn’t time to consult with the members. Note also the “up or down” nature of the votes.
The PowerPoint presentation calls attention to a focus on districts like Worcester and Boston:
Moving forward, we will focus our staff resources on the state’s lowest performing districts with the highest need (often large urban centers), where the urgency for turning around underperforming schools and closing the achievement gap is paramount for kids.
(it’ll be interesting to see if they get anywhere in Boston, which has parental and student advocacy organizations of longstanding on the ground)
Also, “one team” chapters cannot use Stand as a local advocacy organization (for a 2 1/2 override, or for political action). They exist only to be foot soldiers for the state organization and may not organize against the actions of the statewide group under the Stand name.
Multi-team chapters may do so if supported by a member vote, ‘though if they disagree, they still cannot do so as a local chapter. All of the push for the state and national agenda–largely set in the memo by Edelman–is also there.
So, who’s up for starting a local parent advocacy group? Worcester could use one!