My Reply to Stand for Children

By Susan Barrett

I appreciate that Oregon’s Stand for Children (SFC) chapter has responded to my post, but unfortunately this only further confirms for me that they have no interest in changing their agenda. In the past few days, I have been contacted by other parents who agree with me that Stand is not representing their concerns.

For example, not once have I heard a parent say, “Gee, if only we had more Teach for America teachers, things would be better.” Yet, that is exactly what Sue Levin, the Oregon Executive Director of Stand advocated for in March of this year.

As for kicker reform, Stand replied that there was only one proposal brought forth. Yes, but the biggest complaint I heard as a team leader was, “why isn’t Stand bringing forth proposals?” With all their money and staff, the only answer we have heard is “we are not a think tank.” Well, what do they do with all that money?? With their national presence and vast funding, they really could be a force for good and for parents who certainly don’t have the time and resources to undertake this research.

When I and fellow members rallied with our “blue umbrellas” for kicker reform, we had no idea that the proposal ultimately meant less revenue for our schools. This experience taught me an important lesson about paying attention to such details, and I just want others to learn from this. My state representative voted against this kicker proposal because it would do more harm than good.  Fortunately, he has proposed realistic plans to raise revenue for education and other necessary social services that I and other parents can enthusiastically support.  So, while it is true that there is not enough money currently raised by the state to pay for services, it doesn’t mean we should sit and do nothing, and it certainly doesn’t mean we should support lowering taxes on the wealthiest citizens.

You already saw their reply that they will wait for revenues to rise before they fight forcefully for school funding. A fellow parent was told by Sue Levin that it would be 10+ years before demographics shifted in Oregon so meaningful tax reforms could be enacted to achieve stable and adequate funding for schools. It is completely unacceptable to do nothing for 10+ years. Disagree they may, but I hope to work with parents and legislators willing to do the hard work necessary to support our schools.

As for their board, when I sent my concerns to Sue Levin, I stated, “I am not saying Stand shouldn’t have any philanthropists, equity investors, or “reform” minded individuals on its board, but they shouldn’t make up the whole lot. If you are truly looking to make improvements for kids, your board should represent a broader perspective.” A diversity of opinions can make for a healthy debate, but the board doesn’t appear  diverse in its background or views.

I agree that funders do not make decisions for an organization, but funders also will not accept proposals that don’t align with their objectives. The question for me was whether SFC was more aligned with the goals of funders donating millions of dollars to them, such as Walton and Gates, or more aligned with the concerns of members. If anyone agrees that SFC is representing their voice as stakeholders in public education, stay a member. If not, come work with like-minded parents and community members!

Which leads to my last point…when I wrote my original post, I had yet to review the now infamous video of Jonah Edelman, the founder of Stand for Children, discussing how he conned the teachers’ unions in Illinois. While I am an optimist and held out hope Stand might revert to its original direction that I truly admired, this was the final blow for me. I tried to call and cancel my membership yesterday. Unfortunately, they were closed all week for “staff development.” I bet they had much to talk about.

If you’d like to join Susan Barrett in working for progressive change for Oregon schools, please email her at

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10 Responses to My Reply to Stand for Children

  1. Rebecca

    Susan, as a teacher in Illinois, I appreciate your recent posts regarding Stand for Children, as well as your continued fight for true, rational education reform. Thank you for being a voice for kids!

  2. Tricia

    Thanks for all your questioning and in sharing what you have learned about SFC. We need to get the word out! Great job!

  3. Tracy Novick

    And as another former member, may I say: Welcome to the club. Now to actually stand for children…

  4. Cari Pepper

    As I was trying to fully understand who Stand for Children is & what their true agenda is by reading through their website & particularly their board member information page, I was VERY concerned that their board is all business people – there is not one educator! It does NOT make sense to propose ideas for education when there is no one representing the classroom with knowledge. I decided that I would go to the community meeting (Vancouver, WA) Mon., 7/18, warily – as I do not trust someone who has no working knowledge telling me what will work in a classroom where I feel I’m expert since I put in 12+ hrs. a day there and many more hours studying and keeping current in professional development. There is no time for us to have skirmishes between groups, education is in dire straits. Let’s move on to help students. Thanks!

  5. Tricia


    I am glad you trusted your instincts with SFC. I had a similar experience with SFC as Susan did. However, this is not a skirmish. This group is representative of the anti-teacher and anti-public education movement in our country. We are at a turning point, and Susan’s piece was necessary as Stand is increasingly involved in making education policy in our state. It is good to know what we are dealing with so we can move on to take back our public education system for our kids. Our students deserve a well-funded education for starters. Stand dropped the ball on that as they sought to achieve Ed reform goals that were easy to pass due to low cost at an opportunistic time when our schools are being financially starved. I appreciate your dedication to your students.

  6. Danny Stapp


    Knowing you as a fellow educator and friend, I applaud your courage to contnue tostandand be heard. Tom Ruhl (rest his soul) would be proud.


  7. Matt Gilley

    Thanks Susan!

  8. Steve Buel

    Susan, thanks for standing up to Stand. I have been trying for many years to get them to work for all Portland kids, not just the ones in Grant, Lincoln, Wilson, and Cleveland. When PPS Equity blog was alive we had an avenue to point out how Stand reinforced the gross inequities in education in PPS. At that time Jonah actually told me that if I would back off my criticism he would run all the major Stand initiatives through me for my comments. I said that I would do that, to try to see if I could help them be a force for poor kids, not just the more well-to-do. In fact, he ran NO proposals through me for my comments. Evidentally it was a lie. Slowed me down a little bit until I concluded it was a ruse. Fits very well with his video don’t you think. It wasn’t about kids but manipulation.

    The last time I ran for the school board I had an endorsement interview with Stand and decided since they were not about to endorse me I would just explain my criticisms of their organization and I laid them out. Sometime later I bumped into a person on the committee and he said the endorsement group agread with my analysis. Bout blew me down. Maybe there is hope there afterall.

  9. Amy H

    I don’t see any progress across the country helping with the education crisis.
    Why don’t we as teachers and parents take a stand like they did in England and refuse to go back into the classrooms in the fall unless money is made available to keep educators and stop the layoffs. Maybe a good old fashion strike is what is needed in this country so that someone can finally hear what the people are saying.

  10. Anthony Krinsky

    The teacher unions in Illinois deserve no crocodile tears. May all teacher unions get their comeuppance. What is utterly reprehensible is Jonah Edelman’s apology for helping to educate Americans about what it takes to turn back the tide of educational genocide that the teacher unions have washed ashore.