In a powerful open letter, former members of Stand for Children's Massachusetts's branch condemn the organization's transformation from a true grassroots community group into a front organization through which corporate interests can push for the privatization of public education.
Stand for Children, which was formed after a 1996 march on Washington, D.C, to demand more funding for public schools, was originally focused on helping parents and community members organize and fight for opportunities and services such as early childhood education, affordable child-care, quality after school activities and smaller class sizes. But as the former Stand members detail in their open letter, the national organization has undergone a radical change in policy over the past several years, dampening local voices and ignoring community interests in favor of an outside agenda:
"But in 2009, while we struggled to give voice to the needs of our schools, Stand’s staff was turning away from our concerns, announcing that it expected its members to forgo community advocacy in favor of a new, special agenda. This agenda, emerging seemingly out of nowhere, touted more charter schools, more testing, and punishing teachers and schools for low student scores.
None of these initiatives arose from the needs of our communities. Indeed, we understood well their dangers. Yet all of them became the positions of Stand for Children. Policy proposals no longer came from the local level. They were dictated from the top.
What accounted for this shift? We were mystified at first. But we’ve since learned that Stand abandoned its own local members – us – to follow the lure of millions of dollars from Bain Capital, the Walton Foundation, Bill Gates, and others who had an agenda in conflict with our previous efforts."
Because the former Stand members fear that a MA ballot initiative pushed by Stand would "drive some of our best teachers from the schools that need them most," they are urging Massachusetts voters to oppose the ballot measure.