Skip to content

Stand for Children: Using Its Oregon Money to Influence Louisiana’s 2019 BESE Election

September 25, 2019

I have been watching for out-of-state money influencing Louisiana’s October 2019 state board of ed (BESE) elections.

On its 09/10/19 filing, one PAC, Stand for Children LA IEC, reported $420K in contributions; it reported spending $168K on six BESE candidates:

  • James Garvey (Dist 1)
  • Sandy Holloway (Dist 3)
  • Ashley Ellis (Dist 5)
  • Ronnie Morris (Dist 6)
  • Holly Boffy (Dist 7)
  • Preston Castille (Dist 8)

The report includes $192K in contributions first reported on this filing. All of the money came from Stand for Children’s national office in Portland, Oregon.

Not one dollar came from a Louisiana contributor.

Some background on Stand for Children and its presence in Louisiana politics:

Oregon-based Stand for Children has three PACs on file in Louisiana:

The last on the list, Stand for Children LA IEC, is the primary PAC in usage. However, according to its 09/10/19 filing, Stand for Children LA PAC has $60K, all from Stand for Children in Oregon, and all expressly for supporting BESE incumbent Holly Boffy (Dist 7).

All three Stand for Children LA PACs are almost exclusively operated using money coming from Stand for Children’s national office in Portland, Oregon.

Stand for Children operates its state branches from its national perch in Oregon, as attested to by statements such as the following from its 2017-18 tax form:

Expenses $439,818: STAND INDIANA CREATED A NEW STAFF POSITION OF FIELD DIRECTOR AND RAN AN EXTENSIVE VOTER OUTREACH AND CANVASSING CAMPAIGN THROUGHOUT THE SPRING AND SUMMER OF 2018 IN PREPARATION FOR SUPPORTING 2 REFERENDA FOR INDIANAPOLIS PUBLIC SCHOOLS (1 OPERATING AND 1 CAPITAL).

Expenses $331,988: STAND WASHINGTON LED A COALITION OF ORGANIZATIONS, PARENTS, AND COMMUNITY MEMBERS TO EDUCATE LAWMAKERS AND THE PUBLIC AND ADVOCATE FOR PUBLIC AND POLITICAL SUPPORT OF LEGISLATION TO PASS A HIGH SCHOOL SUCCESS PACKAGE. THE LEGISLATION DID NOT PASS DURING THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION.

Expenses $1,762,001: STAND OPERATES PROGRAMS IN 7 ADDITIONAL STATES COLORADO, ILLINOIS, LOUISIANA, MASSACHUSETTS, OKLAHOMA, OREGON, AND TENNESSEE.

Since 2012, hundreds of thousands of dollars has flowed into Louisiana elections from this Portland, Oregon, ed-reform organization, and when I examined the campaign finance filings for these three PACs, I discovered only two Louisiana contributors to one of the PACs, the Stand for Children LA PAC:

  • Stephen Rosenthal; Total contribution $30K (10-2012: $10K; 10-2015: $15K; 10-2016: $5K)
  • Richard Reilly: 11-2013: $10K

Rosenthal is the brother of “mother of New Orleans Recovery School District,” former BESE member, Leslie Jacobs.

Manufactured grass-roots.

I wrote about Stand for Children (SFC) in my first book, A Chronicle of Echoes (see chapter 19). SFC began in Oregon in 1996 and has planted itself in nine states since.

In 2011, SFC co-founder, Jonah Edelman, publicly bragged about his efforts to prevent Chicago teachers from striking because SFC successfully pushed for legislation requiring a 75% of union members to approve a strike. (Despite Edelman’s SFC maneuvering, in January 2012, nearly 90% of Chicago teachers voted to authorize a strike.)

SFC is anti-union, pro-Common Core, pro-school choice—usual corporate-ed-reform fare. As for some of its major money: Since 2010, the Walton Family Foundation has funded SFC (via the SFC Leadership Center$4.1M, with $400,000 specifically earmarked for Louisiana.

Then, there’s the Gates funding.

Since 2005, the Gates Foundation has funded SFC $20.1M, with $3.2M earmarked in July 2012 to support the effective teaching work underway as well as to strengthen the capacity of their national office to deliver state of the art organizing programs to other state affiliates throughout the country.”

Some other Gates-SFC “let’s build some grass roots” highlights:

  • In October 2013, $880K to support a cohort of school district superintendents to advocate for improving teaching, learning, and results in Louisiana public schools
  • November 2013: $751K to support public understanding and successful implementation of college and career ready standards
  • October 2014: $2.6M to support Common Core implementation and teacher effectiveness programs
  • October 2015: $4.3M to support capacity building and increased public will around Common Core standards and aligned assessments in four states, as well as positive teacher effectiveness policy changes
  • November 2017: $1.3M to support capacity building and increased public will around high quality standards and aligned assessments

For more on SFC and its funders, see this ProPublica link.

Back to BESE:

On its Louisiana site, SFC advertises its BESE picks (which includes Tony Davis, who is unopposed in District 4, and Kira Orange-Jones, who SFC has apparently not earmarked for support using its Oregon money as of 09/10/19.)

In Louisiana, SFC advertises its process for supporting BESE candidates:

Electing Bold Leaders

Stand for Children Louisiana’s mission is to ensure that all kids, regardless of their background, graduate from high school prepared for, and with access to, a college education. In Louisiana, too many kids don’t make it to graduation with the skills they need to be successful in life. That is why Stand members are committed to working to elect leaders who are deeply committed to improving educational opportunities for children and who make decisions in the best interests of the children they are elected to serve.

Stand for Children Louisiana is committed to utilizing a robust and transparent member endorsement process in order to support those candidates who best stand for the values and ideals espoused by Stand For Children.

The Process

All candidates running for critical school board seats were sent comprehensive questionnaires and given adequate time to respond and complete.

Upon receiving the completed questionnaires, Stand’s Endorsement Committee reviewed each candidate’s responses, bios and relevant voting records, if available. Those candidates who returned completed questionnaires were invited to participate in an in-person interview with Endorsement Committee Members. Endorsement Committee members were able to make their decisions based on each candidate’s interview, questionnaire responses and relevant experience or voting record. Final endorsement decisions for each candidate were based on the below criteria.

Candidate Criteria

  • Issue Alignment: They show a commitment to raising achievement for all students, increasing family and community involvement, improving school funding, and ensuring our schools have effective principals and teachers. If the candidate is an incumbent, they have a strong track record on improving education.
  • Strong Personal Character: They have a vision and make clear commitments to improving education or have a proven record of bold, innovative leadership on student-centered policies. They show bold leadership, strive for consensus, but are willing to support potentially unpopular policy changes if necessary to get results for children.
  • Viability: They have a clear and viable strategy for winning their race.

It all sounds so locally-driven, so grass-rootsy.

It’s probably best to not mention that SFC in Oregon finances the show.

Where-Is-The-Best-Place-To-Hide-Money-At-Home

____________________________________________________________________________

Interested in scheduling Mercedes Schneider for a speaking engagement? Click here.

.

Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

 

10 Comments
  1. Kathy Edmonston Gmail permalink

    Can I share this?

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  2. Thank you. SFC helped pave the way for charters in Memphis. Few knew who they were at first.
    https://www.memphisflyer.com/CityBeatBlog/archives/2012/08/06/stand-for-children-stands-for-what

  3. Jill Reifschneider permalink

    Wow. Thank you for the exposure.

  4. Linda permalink

    The once, and no longer, liberal Urban institute (now a billionaires’ think tank) quoted John White in 2017. He said, “Do voucher programs work is the wrong question to ask. The question is, are there good schools of all governance types available to low income children?” Now that the last remaining New Orleans public school closed, we see what a fraud the self-appointed elites are.
    Disaster capitalism robs citizens of democracy.

  5. pauleck47 permalink

    I am from Portland, Oregon. While living in Idaho, I joined Stand For Children (SFC) when this organization promoted grassroots organizing to help people improve schools. SFC provided a half-time organizer position and we started to get organized when Jonah Edleman pulled the position and abandoned Idaho without any due cause leaving us in the lurch. Once I moved to Oregon I saw the impact that SFC was having on local elections and the power it wielded in our state government especially in our State Dept of Education. SFC was the main backer of Measure 98 two years ago that is now leaching dollars out of our general budget (note: Oregon has been grossly underfunding its schools to the point where it has one of the shortest school years and highest class sizes in the nation). Today, there is a prek task force working on providing preschool for all in Multnomah County, where Portland is located. At least one of the major leaders on the task force to promote prek has deep ties to SFC. I am very worried that the plan will not be free to all preschoolers in my city and thus leaving kids behind that cannot afford the cost even at a reduced rate, the lack of early childhood teachers on the planning committee, presence of for profit schools, as well as the strong presence of private developers. It is time to organize against SFC by making people aware of the cancer within. I plan to do so every chance I get.

    • Linda permalink

      Diane Ravitch’s Network for Public Education is THE place to start.
      Your comment added at the Ravitch blog would amplify your effect.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Stand for Children: Using Its Oregon Money to Influence Louisiana’s 2019 BESE Election — deutsch29 | Eagle
  2. Mercedes Schneider: “Stand for Children” Spends Out-of-State Money to Buy Louisiana Elections | Diane Ravitch's blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s