Corporate Backed Stand for Children Should Take a Back Seat in ESSA Process
Astroturf lobbying refers to political organizations or campaigns that appear to be made up of grassroots activists but are actually organized and run by corporate interests seeking to further their own agendas. Such groups are often typified by innocent-sounding names that have been chosen specifically to disguise the group's true backers
I woke up the other day to see that one of my favorite bloggers, Peter Greene at Curmdugucation, had written a blog post about Stand for Children. As an Oregon teacher who has worked to improve schools and change out of school factors to help all children succeed since I started teaching here in 1994, Stand for Children is a group I’m very familiar with. I first heard about them when my youngest daughter, who is now 21 years old, was in fourth grade. The class sizes at her school had ballooned to 30 and up (a sad state many, if not most, Oregon classrooms remain in today). Back then, Stand was out there advocating for things like smaller class size and adequate funding and better access to health services. My dad (from here on referred to by name: Rex Hagans) heard about the group and he got involved; so involved that eventually he came to work with their state leadership along with his friend, Tom Olsen. Rex and Tom were both recently retired educators of the PhD variety who had worked at Northwest Regional Educational Laboratories in Portland. Back then we all lived in Canby, a smallish town near Portland.
Soon after Rex and Tom started working with Stand, they created a local chapter in Canby and I got more involved. With Rex and Tom as Stand liaisons, I worked with Stand and my school district to help get a dental screening program going there. Eventually, I became a Stand member and then chapter leader in Canby. It was right about then that things went wrong.
I heard that there was a new head of Oregon Stand (I now know her name was Sue Levin). Soon after that, there started to be an uncomfortable push coming from the top of the organization down, asking us to have conversations with people about “teacher quality”. It was a big change in focus from fighting for funding and against poverty. I, as a teacher and proud member of my union, became Oregon Save Our Schools: Corporate Backed Stand for Children Should Take a Back Seat in ESSA Process: