If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. That seems to be the main message behind the creation of a new education advocacy group that is hoping to push its agenda to parents, the public -- and elected officials.
The Network for Public Education (NfPE?) -- not to be confused with the recently shuttered Public Education Network -- is being created to do what StudentsFirst, DFER, Stand, and 50CAN have been trying to do (organizing as a 501c4 rather than a traditional nonprofit, endorsing candidates, and maybe even creating a PAC).
Only it's an anti-reform kind of group, and for now at least it will rely on social media rather than big funders. And it's going to be run by Diane Ravitch (plus Anthony Cody, Leonie Haimsen, and the other usual suspects).
According to EdWeek (Diane Ravitch Launches New Education Advocacy Counterforce), Ravitch will be the main spokesperson for the group, and hopes that it serves as some sort of umbrella organization for the other groups -- Save Our Schools (the annual march and yellow icons in peoples' Twitter avatars), Parents Across America, and Broader Bolder.
I wonder how the other anti-reform groups feel about this new entrant, and about relying ever more heavily on Ravitch. Mixed feelings, I would imagine. I wonder how they'll coordinate and cooperate -- an issue the reform advocacy groups have struggled with. I wonder what it does to reform critics' purity of message to be doing some of the things that they've long criticized.
But the sturdy band of reform critics are already very good at social media, and have broken into mainstream media coverage of education as well (a mind meld with some beat reporters if there ever was one). If a sympathetic funder -- Ford, for example, or one of the unions -- they'd have some resources to expand (if also some credibility and hypocrisy issues to deal with).