Posts Tagged ‘Stand for Children’

U of Chicago students disassociate from Students for Ed Reform

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

I heard a few weeks ago that this move was coming – glad to see the formal withdrawal letter here:

We find that we cannot perform the work we wish to perform under the guise of Students for Education Reform.  Instead of feeling more empowered through our association and interaction with the organization and National staff, we feel constrained both in what is expected and what is possible. We are often perceived not as Students for Education Reform at the University of Chicago, an organization with distinct individualities, personalities, and experiences, but a rudimentary extension of the National organization.

Students for Education Reform is, of course, another well-funded attempt by the corporate reformers to fake grass roots support for their agenda, and is a spin-off from Democrats for SFEREducation Reform. We first heard of it when SFERs were being bused to see “Won’t Back Down.” Here’s a post from last year from the DePaul SFER Facebook page:

Don’t forget tomorrow 4:30pm in the Loyola Commuter Lounge we have our first session with Stand For Children!!!! The awesome SFERites from Loyola, UChicago, and Northwestern will be there as well!

Doesn’t their logo look like a lot like a baby bottle>>>

Fortunately, as the U of C letter reflects, most students can see through the propaganda.

PSAT for 12-11-12: Make merry! Watch and share new CTU cartoon satire of corporate reformers

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

The Chicago Teachers’ Union has done it again! They have gifted us yet another sharp tool for our public school support kit. This time it’s a spot-on satirical cartoon skewering on Chicago’s corporate reformers. Dangling at the end of the lampoon are some of PURE’s favorite goofballs: Penny Pritzker, Bruce Rauner, Robin Steans, Stand for Children, and, of course, Mr Secret Sauce himself, Mayor Emanuel.

Rauner isn’t taking it well (fat cats hate to be made fun of). Fuming to the Sun-Times, Rauner said, “To be lectured by a leader of a failed union who protects a failed school system would be laughable if it were not so sad. These union leaders are a joke, just not a funny one.”


CPS called the video “mean-spirited.” OK, more mean-spirited than closing schools and sending students to worse alternatives? Not tracking these students as promised? Flunking students based on one test score when the test is not designed for that purpose, and when flunking usually hurts more than it helps? Ignoring a state-mandated facilities committee that had gone a long way towards holding CPS and the city accountable for their unfair funding decisions, then replacing it with a “commission” that claims it will truly this time trust us listen to the community, as it holds last-minute pseudo-hearings in churches run by Mayoral pals? More mean-spirited that that?

It’s just a cartoon, folks. Watch it, share it, enjoy it. We need the laugh. Be merry!


New fact sheet: Parents, here’s the truth about Stand for Children!

Friday, April 13th, 2012

Tomorrow is Stand for Children’s “kickoff” event at Roosevelt University, but you would have a hard time finding out where and when it is from their web site, which says that registration is “closed.”

Is the event – which starts at 10 am Saturday April 14 at Roosevelt University, 430 S Michigan Avenue – just so wildly popular that they had to stop taking new registrants? Fire code concerns, maybe? Or are they perhaps hiding, afraid of infiltration by actual parents, actual teachers or actual students who support our public schools and are finding out just what Stand is really up to?

The event is also part of a local college campus recruiting drive for another front group, Students for Education Reform, an echo of the corporate reform group Democrats for Education Reform. I wrote about that yesterday.

It’s important for people to know the truth about SFC and its clones.

Here’s a new one-page PURE fact sheet on SFC (downloadable pdf here):

Stand for Children is a wolf in sheep’s clothing – even worse, SFC stole the sheep’s clothing from a legitimate Oregon parent group that used to fight for good things like more school funding, health care and smaller class size.

What does Stand stand for now?

  • Closing neighborhood schools
  • Expanding charter schools
  • Evaluating teachers using unreliable standardized test scores
  • Replacing teachers with “online learning”

Who does Stand really speak for? Not parents. Not children.

SFC is a front for corporations, hedge funders and investment bankers who have thrown their wealth behind a national campaign to destroy teachers unions and privatize our public schools. Bill Gates, the Walmart family, New Profit venture fund, J P Morgan Chase, etc. have donated millions to SFC over the past 2-3 years, allowing it to expand to Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Texas and Washington.

What does Stand do? Their main focus is on pushing state legislation to support their goals of privatization and union busting. In their first year in Illinois, they raised $3 million to donate to select state candidates and hire 11 lobbyists to push Senate Bill 7 which allowed the Chicago Public Schools to have the final word on any teacher issue where the union disagreed.

Their leader, Jonah Edelman, later boasted publicly that they were able to “jam this proposal down their throats.”

Warning to parents from a former SFC member:

“My fear is that unwitting parents and community members will join Stand because they want to rectify the problems they see every day in their children’s public schools, such as underfunding, lack of arts programs, large class sizes and cuts to the school year, only to find that they get roped into very different goals. . . I worry we will lose a truly democratic discussion and action on education weighted in favor of corporate reforms.”

Parents Across America member and former Oregon Stand member Susan Barrett

For more information, take a look at: blog posts by former Oregon SFC members Susan Barrett and Tom Olsen, and transcription of Jonah Edelman’s Aspen Institute speech boasting about SFC’s Illinois state legislature conniving. Also, Rethinking Schools, Fall 2011 issue, “For or Against Children,” by Ken Libby and Adam Sanchez.

It’s spring, and the astroturf is spreading like crabgrass!

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

What's underneath???

It seems that every time you turn around, there’s another astroturf education group sprouting up. The fertilizer, of course, is the money of wealthy privatizers and union busters, not to mention the rich manure of corporate reform rhetoric.

It’s gotten to the point where you have to worry that, if a group has the word “students,” “children,” “reform,” or “first” in it, you’ve got to first hide your children!

And now they’re going after college kids.

The latest eruption is called Students for Education Reform, and they are sponsoring a kick-off event Saturday at Roosevelt University in conjunction with Stand for Children (event flier).

This is a local chapter of a suspiciously new network of college campus affiliates with a suspiciously familiar agenda. SFER’s web site claims it already has chapters in 28 states, although several of its key web site sections remain under construction. For example, you can apply for a job with SFER – no lack of funds for staff here – but the “advocacy” section is “coming soon.”

A glance at the gauzy statements on the SFER site can’t hide the real agenda of this Stand for Children clone. Code words like “choice,” “stronger teachers,” “parent empowerment,” and “data” sugar coat their drive to destroy teachers unions, expand charter schools and vouchers, and make standardized testing an even greater focus of schooling. That agenda becomes clear when you look a bit further into the site.

But it’s unlikely that a lot of the students being recruited for this modern-day Moonie group understand exactly what they’re signing up for.

A small group of real grass-roots folks will be sharing information about Stand for Children and other predatory “reform” groups outside of the SFER event at 10 am Saturday morning at 430 S Michigan (at Roosevelt U). Why not join them and help spread the truth about the value of real grass over fake? After all, it’s spring, the perfect time to start planting.

PSAT for 3-13-12: Support a QUALITY school day

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

Parents across Chicago are ramping up their opposition to Mayor Emanuel’s 7.5 hour school day.

For example, a group of parents from Chicago’s 19th Ward, along with their alderman, Matt O’Shea, organized a community forum last Thursday which attracted over 350 people and was written up by most major news outlets, including a column by the Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Brown.

The group prepared their own power point presentation which apparently blew CPS’s typical dog-and-pony show out of the water by raising and then debunking most of CPS’s public statements about why the 7.5 hour day is necessary.

From the 19th Ward Parents’ presentation:

CPS sez: “The rationale behind moving CPS schools to a full school day is clear…our elementary school students are receiving 22% less instructional time than their peers across the country.” (J.C. Brizard email 2/10/12)

The TRUTH: Average U.S. school day is 6.64 hours for elementary schools. CPS school day is currently 5.75 = 14% difference.

CPS sez: “To be clear, we are not claiming – nor have we ever claimed – that 7.5 hours is the national average; rather, 90 minutes of additional instructional time in elementary schools gets Chicago on par with the national average in instructional minutes in elementary school during the year.” Schools On The Line call-in show. 6:45 to 8:00p.m. March 1st WBEZ 91.5FM with BOE member Jesse Ruiz .

The TRUTH: Assuming all schools that are on par with the national average length of day have a 45 minute lunch and recess period and 15 minutes of passing time, this would mean 5 hours and 30 minutes of instructional time, or 30 minutes more than the average CPS elementary school which currently has at least 5 hours of instructional time.

CPS sez: “With a high school graduation rate of only 57% and 7.9% of 11th graders testing college ready, our children cannot afford to wait another day to get the time they need to boost their achievement.”

The TRUTH: Citywide graduation rate, according to the District State Report Card, is 73.8%. 7.4% of high school students were “chronically truant” in 2010-11. 33 CPS high schools have at least 20% of the student body chronically truant. After lengthening their day, MA schools noted a statistically significant negative impact on attendance rates within first two years. (Bouhy, Gamse, Chekoway, Maree and Fox: Evaluation of MA ELT Initiative after 4 years)

CPS sez: “And while some schools are higher performing than others, there are NO schools in the district where more than 90% of 8th graders are meeting college readiness standards.”

The TRUTH: CPS Explore Tests show that 60 schools with 8th grade classes meet or exceed college readiness standards. ISATs: 80.4% of 8th graders currently meet or exceed.

So, for Public Schools Action Tuesday today, please show your support for a better – not necessarily 7.5 hour longer – school day by signing the “Say No to the proposed 7.5 hour day” petition here.

If you are a CPS parent, please also take a couple of minutes to fill out this survey.


Please be aware that the petition site,, piggybacks a petition for Michelle Rhee’s anti-public teacher group, Students First, onto the Chicago parents’  petition with the fraudulent come-on, “Good Teachers Deserve Decent Pay.” Don’t sign it or Michelle will automatically add you to her “membership” list and use your name to raise more funds for her hate group. Many groups around the country have asked to stop driving traffic to Rhee, but so far they have refused.

On a similar note, read more about another nasty interlude with the astroturf group Stand for Children’s resident creep here.

More nasty stuff from Stand for Children in Chicago

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

Chicago Public Schools and Stand for Children staffers sharing a car? How cozy… (read about it below).

I didn’t name him, but the same Stand for Children creep I wrote about last month has been skulking around other Chicago parent group meetings, and some believe he and SFC should be exposed for the tactics they are using. I was asked to post this signed message which was originally posted on the Facebook page for the Grimes-Fleming (School) Child Advocates: 

On Friday, 3/9/2012, our organization, Grimes-Fleming Child Advocates had an informational meeting at Lawler Park in the Midway area. Our guest speakers were Christine McGovern and Maureen Cullnan of 19th Ward Parents, we invited our alderman Marty Quinn who was unable to attend, but sent a representative. CPS was contacted several times for two weeks prior and had confirmed two days before and as recently as 4:00pm, but did not show up. Interestingly, they had pressed to find out numbers in attendance. A CPS F.A.C.E. (Family And Community Engagement) representative did show up. Our meeting went great, 19th Ward Parents came with facts that are backed up with studies. The only distraction was that an uninvited person named Juan Jose Gonzalez from Stand For Children came and stood in the back telling our Spanish speaking parents in Spanish that what 19th Ward parents were stating were “lies”, “don’t believe them”, “that’s not true, they don’t know”. He attempted to create confusion and at one point at the end, he did manage to cause distraction when somehow he deferred our Spanish speaking parents to address questions to the F.A.C.E. rep, Ms. Teresa Meza. I was unaware that he was also asking parents for their phone numbers and stated only CPS knows the facts and made a comment to a parent that now caucasians want to talk to them. I am furious!

At the end only my husband, children and I were left with Ms. Meza and Mr. Gonzalez. I was asking Ms. Meza about her role at CPS and she was explaining, but Mr. Gonzalez was hovering, so I engaged him in conversation asking about his stand on the extended day. He was unaware I had already read up on him, know he is NOT from Chicago, is a Princeton grad and is imported from California to do his job. What I found, per Mr. Gonzlez statements is that, he is not a parent, he believes minorities are uneducated to undereducated and can not effectively guide their children, it is his “job” to make sure teachers pick up this slack, and he is hired to ensure Latinos and African Americans embrace the extended day. Not shocking, but what occured next certainly was. Ms. Meza and Mr Gonzalez left Lawler Park together. They left the park premises and entered a car parked alongside the park. This is infuriating!

***Mr. Gonzalez plays the race card while being predator of his own race, he is truly despicable. We are not as ignorant and taken to emotion as he thinks, we see through him.

Nellie Cotton

Ms Cotton also wrote this thoughtful piece on why it’s important to continue to fight the CPS 7.5 hour day:

I am a parent of children who attend Grimes-Fleming School in the Midway area. Please count us in the growing number of parents in opposition to the extended school day. We have started an organization, Grimes-Fleming Child Advocates to stand in solidarity with other CPS parents.

I want to dispel the myth that all “poor” schools are in need of an extended day due to academic failure. Grimes-Fleming is a school composed of over 80% Hispanic students, 87% of our students are low income, we have an attendance rate of 95.6%, our performance overall on all state tests is 86.2%, we exceed the state, district and sub-region scores.

This success comes from a dedicated, extraordinary principal leading an equally dedicated and exceptional teaching staff along with the guidance of parents who are actively engaged in their children’s lives. Our teachers come in before school starts, often as early as 7:30am to help students who need it. This is out of their dedication and their strong conviction that they are making a difference. Our school offers after school programs that tutor, help with homework, provide exercise. We have after school cheerleading squads, girls volleyball, boys and girls basketball, musical keyboarding, newspaper, art classes, dance and  computer keyboarding. Our children take great pride in the knowledge they have teachers and parents that care enough to volunteer their time to make these programs possible. Our entire community nurtures our future. With an extended school day all this would be disrupted and would detract from the richness of their lives, our lives. We are real families who constantly interact with our children. Social interaction is important!

Our community is confused as to where the funds to add this time that is of no significance is coming from, as we are so strapped for funds. We have no extras, are short on essentials, are short staffed and could use money for so many other things, such as teaching materials, supplies, arts and such that would make a real impact.We have done so much with so little! Even using that money for more nutritionally sound lunches is a better option than extending the day. We do NOT need CPS to babysit our children. What CPS is doing is akin to holding children and families hostage.

Every school is NOT the same, every school should be given the opportunity to decide what is best academically for their students success. If we have so much money to toss about suddenly, why not put some of that money to good use so that it would actually benefit our children?

Nellie Cotton

My coffee with an SFC creep

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

Yesterday I had coffee (well, more on that later) with a top organizer for Chicago’s astroturf branch of Stand for Children. He had asked to meet in response to my blog about SFC’s recent telephone blitz in Chicago’s West and South sides. My post questioned the stated purpose of the calls, which they claimed were to “listen to and help parents.”

I wasn’t sure what his agenda would be. Maybe he would try to spread some rich SFC public relations fertilizer. Maybe he was on a fishing expedition to see if he could get me to talk about our anti-corporate reform strategies.

I was pretty sure, though, that he would start out with an attempt at the classic organizer “one-on-one” in which the organizer tries to build a relationship with a potential group member by asking personal questions.

That wasn’t going to go anywhere.

I cut to the chase and asked what his agenda was. I was pretty surprised at what he said.

He said it was to find out what happened to PURE and what were the “lessons learned.” He stated that he had “heard all about PURE” from a reporter, and he had looked at our filed reports on line and knew all about our finances. “Oh, yes, I know that PURE used to have hundreds of thousands of dollars and that has all gone away.”

I was completely dumbfounded. Seriously? He thought I would share information about PURE with an organization whose agenda PURE was so opposed to?

Not to mention the fact that we have been very upfront about our organizational struggles, from the lovely story Ben Joravsky wrote in 2008 when Chicago foundations first began to slam their doors in our face due to our opposition to Mayor Daley’s school actions, to our recent fundraising appeal letter. It’s no secret that we are operating on a shoestring.

It’s also no secret that PURE is still powerful. In fact, when I later talked to the reporter that he named as his source for this “inside info” about PURE, I learned that he had been asking why the media regularly turns to PURE for parents’ perspectives on education.

Anyway, back to the coffee.

He said, “So, you refuse to share information?”

I said that there was no way I would give any information about PURE to someone I considered a sell-out who worked for such a sleazy organization.

He responded that this was a personal attack. I said, yeah, I know.

He tried to wield another organizer schtick, that there are “no permanent friends or permanent enemies.”

That’s about the point at which I decided that there was no point in continuing the conversation and I left. Please know that I paid for my own coffee – didn’t want anything bought with dirty SFC money, yucchhh.

Unfortunately, I must report that my grand gesture fell a little short when I realized half a block away that I had left my coat with my car keys in the pocket on my chair! I’ve never mastered the grand gesture….



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About the PURE Thoughts blogger
Julie Woestehoff is PURE's executive director. Julie's work has earned her a Ford Foundation award and recognition as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Chicago.