Billionaire-financed Astroturf Group Coming to North Carolina

PAA affiliate Mecklenburg ACTS just learned that the astroturf “Campaign for Achievement Now” has targeted our state for its next legislative drive. According to the website, the Campaign plans to spend more than $700,000 in our state to advance its charter and testing-focused agenda in 2012 alone, most of it apparently financed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This is in addition to the $850,000 being spent in our state for the charter-focused “North Carolinians for Educational Freedom.” We will be working with our allies in our recent fight against testing madness to combat their efforts.

“Campaign for Achievement Now” is already operating in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maryland, Minnesota and New York, thanks to funding from the Walton Foundation. According to their Website, they plan to continue to expand into other states. Look out for them!

Here’s the message Mecklenburg ACTS sent to our supporters:

The “Campaign for Achievement Now” has set its sights on North Carolina as its next target for “reform.” Although the group’s leaders claim to be focused on grassroots advocacy, they are bringing a very specific agenda which includes more high-stakes testing, more use of test scores to evaluate educators and schools, and expansion for charter school funding.

Here, from their website, is their statement of support for testing expansion, curriculum narrowing and school closings.

Greater Accountability

Over the past 20 years we made significant strides in developing rigorous state standards and aligned student assessment systems. We must now use the information collected through these systems to drive instruction and curriculum, expand public awareness of school performance, ground teacher evaluations in student results and close chronically failing schools.

The organization began in Connecticut. Their Web site notes that the Walton Foundation funded their expansion into several other states, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is financing the expansion into North Carolina. The website budget suggests that they intend to spend $704,453 in North Carolina this year.

According to a Connecticut school activist we know: “They have deep pockets and buy access to power. They have authored many bills here, then found someone in the legislature to push it (not always successfully). They routinely manufacture ‘parent engagement’ by busing charter parents in with t-shirts they’ve bought.”

MecklenburgACTS will be monitoring the actions of this group, both here and statewide. Please let us know if you hear anything about them. Also, look for upcoming actions that you can take to let our state and Congressional representatives know that this is not the kind of education that we want for our children.


Pamela and Carol

Here is the job description:

NEW: Executive Director of CarolinaCAN: The North Carolina Campaign for Achievement Now

50CAN: The 50-State Campaign for Achievement Now is seeking an exceptional individual to serve as the founding executive director of CarolinaCAN: The North Carolina Campaign for Achievement Now, the fifth state branch. 50CAN: The 50-State Campaign for Achievement Now is a nonprofit advocacy organization that recruits and supports local leaders who build citizen movements in their states to ensure that every child has access to a great public school. We believe that great schools change everything-from the life trajectory of a child to the economic prosperity of the state.

Our model is built around the conviction that all politics is local but locals shouldn’t have to start from scratch. We identify education reform leaders in each state and then provide them with the tools needed to build an effective advocacy movement grounded in three principles:1) greater high-quality choices for parents, 2) greater flexibility for innovative educators and 3) greater accountability for results.

CarolinaCAN’s advocacy model involves three key components:

Research & Policy: CarolinaCAN will produce original research that marries in-depth analysis of state-level education data with the latest national research.

Communications & Mobilization: CarolinaCAN will create a movement of informed citizens through media work, e-advocacy, publications, partnerships with like-minded civic and community groups, phone banks, petitions and rallies.

Advocacy for Policy Change: CarolinaCAN will team with local leaders to develop and enact concrete, meaningful education reforms through both legislative and administrative action.


The executive director will be responsible for bringing the winning 50CAN model to life in North Carolina’s unique political and policy landscape. Working in collaboration with the 50CAN national team and the CarolinaCAN advisory board, the executive director will drive statewide policy campaigns that seek fundamental changes to ensure all North Carolina children have access to great schools. During summer 2012, the executive director will help recruit and manage two additional staff members – a government relations & policy manager and a public affairs manager – to complete the CarolinaCAN campaign team.

The ideal candidate will have a successful track record running issue advocacy or political campaigns, possess a deep understanding of education policy, be extraordinarily entrepreneurial, have excellent written and verbal communication skills and be absolutely dedicated to our mission of securing great schools for all through fundamental educational reforms. The executive director serves both as the leader of the North Carolina branch of 50CAN and as a member of 50CAN’s senior leadership team.


• Advocate-in-Chief: The executive director will lead the effort to change state policy through legislative and administrative action by crafting and executing the organization’s strategy and campaign plans.

• Local Fundraising: The executive director will be the primary driver of the effort to secure state funding to ensure the long-term sustainability of the campaign and build upon the existing funding secured to date.

• Spokesperson: The executive director will be the voice of the campaign in speeches, meetings, media outreach and written communications across the state, effectively articulating complex policy arguments to a broad range of individuals and groups.

• Manager and Mentor: The executive director will be the leader of the North Carolina team and serve as both a strong manager and mentor.

Salary is highly competitive and commensurate with experience. 50CAN offers a comprehensive benefits package. Interested candidates should send a cover letter and resume to

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