"Stand" Banned From Online Petition Site

As you may know, Change.org, the progressive [but for-profit] petition site, has recently banned reformy nonprofits StudentsFirst and Stand For Children from posting petitions, apparently under pressure from teachers unions and others opposed to their positions and enraged at their presence on the site.

It’s a massive victory for the organizations’ critics, who also felt that the groups were misrepresenting their views and tricking parents and community members into signing onto petitions that they didn’t really agree with.  The last straw, according to this Huffington Post article, was a petition against the strike authorization vote two weeks ago.  Roughly 5,000 people signed a petition urging Change to drop them — using a competitor site called MoveOn.org which is nonprofit.

But not everyone thinks the ban is a good or fair idea.  Stand’s Juan Jose Gonzelez describes Change’s decision as a hypocritical overreaction to pressure that disrespects parents (Censorship of parent voice in Chicago).  Whether you agree with Stand or StudentsFirst or not, what do you think about them being denied access to Change.org?



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  • Thank you change.org for getting rid of StudensLast and Stand On Children.

  • That should read, StudentsLast.

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    Confused. What does Stand for Children have to do with parent voice?

    Their parent universities may at some point foster some parent voice (hopefully free parent voice, not indentured to Stand's funders' goals), but up to now, they've been nothing but a top down organization that pushes non-parents' agenda.

  • not sure why parents who agree with you are authentic and parents who don't are indentured.

    this is one of the most dispiriting elements of the argument for and against -- the aspersions cast on parents when they differ from you and the praise heaped on them when they agree.

    let's just stipulate that everyone's autonomous, and not everyone agrees with you (or disagrees) and focus on the merits of the arguments.

    sometimes parents are right, sometimes they're wrong -- but it's not usually because of one call or meeting or sipping a soda given to them by one side or the other.

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    In reply to Alexander Russo:

    You are roundly missing the point Alexander. Point to a place where I have address parents in this way. I said that I hope the university does empower parent voice, including dissenting voice. If you are opposed to that, your statement is utterly contradictory.

    What I am critiquing is the style where a bunch of rich people in a room decide what THEY want and they go recruit parents for it.

    As you know from your extreme involvement in Chicago, this is not how CORE started, operates or believes to operate. We have always entered rooms and asked parents what they want and then worked out a shared agenda.

    We deserve credit for that, and those groups that say, literally buy people to express their point of view deserve disdain. That's real, open democratic discourse, and your sniping attacks the fundamental value of democratic discourse.

    To sum up, look at Stand's statement. What parents' voices are being censored or silenced? Juan Gonzalez? Mary Anderson? Maybe her funder who cut a $100,000 check? She even says that it was "only" a $2000 contract.

    Does that sound like someone who is working equitably with CPS parents? Since when has $2000 ever been a pittance to CPS families?

    The "all sides do bad stuff" narrative you often push is inaccurate and insulting. The way your manipulate words to cast negative aspirations on both sides is insulting and may get blog hits, but does nothing to improve education.

    If you, Mr. Gonzalez, Ms. Rhee, Mr. Gates, or Ms. Johnson from up the block really want to improve schools, let's do it. But let's stop the top down maneuvering, the big money buying of consensus and the misinformation campaigns. I enjoy our discourse, and I respect the volume of work you put in. But let's realtalk: You protest a lot, but you are one of the biggest offenders on a number of these issues.

  • In reply to Alexander Russo:

    Maybe it's best to simply agree that poor parents are often manipulated and given ideological con jobs in relation to education in America. Con job number one shared by public school teachers unions, urban school districts, and market based reformers like Stand for Children is that the majority of poor inner city children can beat the odds and join the middle class if only they get a good foundational elementary school and high school education and go to college.

    The best available evidence on the effects of neighborhoods on children’s educational outcomes come from the Gautreaux program in Chicago, which relocated African-American public housing residents into different parts of the metropolitan area. That program demonstrated clearly that families that moved to even slightly high income suburbs had vastly improved high school and college graduation rates when compared to those families moved simply to section 8 housing in other poor neighborhoods in the city. [Rosenbaum, James E. (1995) “Changing the Geography of Opportunity by Expanding Residential Choice: Lessons from the Gautreaux Program.” Housing Policy Debate. 6(1): 231- 270.]

    The key to solving the urban educational crisis is and always has been removing families from pockets of deep poverty into higher income communities. But the problem is those communities don't want to let those poor families share the advantages their communities have, isn't that the American way after all?

    Now, in writing this I am not declaring a plague on both your houses, as Shakespeare did in Romeo and Juliet . Clearly in this context, the Chicago Teachers Union with its document: The Schools Chicago Students Deserve, at least situates public education in a real world of poverty and wealth. But none the less the CTU argues that an education system of quality can be built for Chicago's poor children if only the rich are sufficiently taxed to create a funding base for progressive transformation of CPS without an underlying social transformation of Chicago's racial and economic segregation. Stand for Children seems to think if market forces are unleashed an educational miracle led by heroic financiers, young teachers fed with bonuses, and data driven principals will save these children from poverty.

    But let's be clear if Stand for Children were to win all of its strategic objectives; have teachers paid on the basis of merit as determined by principals and test data, have as long of a school day as possible, have charter schools a plenty, and have all services contracted out to the lowest corporate bidders things still will not be fixed for urban education because of the foundational effects of deeply poor communities themselves. If the CTU was effectively broken these children would be worse off even in the short run due to an inevitable increase in teacher turn over and instability of schools themselves that would be subject to the unfettered forces of the market. Privatized operators would come and go, but the poor children and their families would remain constant. So while all sides do indeed use poor parents, in this situation I clearly prefer the CTU, and parents that are more sympathetic to the union than Stand for Children and their parent allies whoever those may actually be.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Rod--you are absolutely correct. Said so well. Thank you,
    Children First Principal, CPS

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Mr. Estvan,

    Brilliantly articulated. Thank you for your post.

  • In reply to Maestro:

    ...and to think CPS let Rod Estvan leave....we used to have this level of intelligence at the top in CPS but now it is the toilet bowl theory reigning supreme at central office...and it is a hot mess....

  • In reply to Maestro:

    Notice Alex does not respond to well written and logical posts.

  • In reply to Alexander Russo:

    Okay, Alexander, I'll play your merits-of-the-arguments game (even though you rarely play the game yourself). Change.org presents itself as a site designed to push progressive ideals through petitions. They have specific language in their sponsorship rules that state that any organization that doesn't work for the progressive cause are not allowed to buy petitions. I think you would be hard pressed to convince anyone that Stand For Children is a progressive cause (although I bet they could get a bunch of parents to go to a rally saying they were). Just in Illinois alone they have helped pass SB7 which is fundamentally regressive. I don't really see this as very much of an argument. The Stand For Children guy's side doesn't hold any water even if it were true that he represented parent voice since those voices would be in support of a conservative political agenda. Change.org is simply exercising it's policy to only support progressive causes and nothing else. So, unless someone can convince me that Stand For Children is a progressive cause we're done here.

  • Alexander, you are right. I am sure you will have to monitor the responses you get to you post! Most posters on this blog forget that a person is born with ONE mouth and TWO ears for a reason. I wish they would listen more and understand that there are very valid reasons that many parents simply do not agree with what the CTU is demanding.

    Humans have not evolved much past the Roman Colosseum days. The rabid irrational rants make me believe that there will be a strike this fall. Too many unrealistic demands based on emotion are driving the decisions. I wonder if it is the good and great teachers posting here or the ones who are afraid that they won't be able to go through the motions day in and day out, get raises regardless of performance or the economy, and know they can never be fired.

    The trouble is the ctu is treating all teachers alike and parents do not want that. Parents want the good and great teachers to rise and the mediocre and bad to go elsewhere. No affiliation to any group required, just being a parent of kids in cps.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    I agree.

    I'm a CPS parent and I think smaller class sizes are a terrible idea. I especially don't want my children bothered with things like art, music, physical education, world language, technology, or recess. If my kids aren't at a desk all day memorizing important facts, I don't know why they should even show up.

    I also think CPS needs to do a better job of firing teachers. Since no individual teacher can ever get fired - ever! - for being a terrible teacher CPS should close more schools much, much faster to get rid of them. Great teachers will flock to schools that are in danger of being closed if they're earning a paycheck. It's how the market works!

    Finally, CPS needs to start listening to the wealthy and powerful. These people are wealthy and powerful for a reason: they are always right! More wealthy and powerful Chicagoans need to exert their wealth and power against the masses of poor and middle class parents who don't know any better. It's our duty.

  • So, when is the next big parent-led Stand For Children rally? Sure, anyone can sign-up online and be a "member", but I need to SEE actual people. I've seen hundreds of parents from KOCO, PURE, Mt. Greenwood/Beverley, and Raise Your Hand rally and speak but yet to see any real groundswell for astroturfers like Stand On Children. Seriously Alex, when is their next big conclave. I'd like to see how many CPS parents actually attend.

  • here's ben joravsky's noms for top parent groups, FWIW:


  • In reply to Alexander Russo:

    "For what its worth"? YOUR TROLLING IS TOO OBVIOUS!

    Really Alex, that should be included on 90% of your posts.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Of course "for what it's worth". Joravsky is a partisan, subjective, mouthpiece of the oppressed.

    Russo is a thoughtful, objective and respected education journalist.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Journalist? I thought Russo was just a blogger.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    worked on you

  • Change.org is a privately operated entity. As such they are entitled to work with whomever they want. They are not required to do business with anyone.

    If Stand on Children and ChildrenLast don't fit the ideals of the Change organization it is perfectly reasonable for Change to decline their business. Happens all the time.

    "Stand" Banned from Online Petition Site is a great headline for a Tribune blogger who needs reach for the lowest common denominators to create controversy in order to keep the site hits coming.

    A more reasonable and accurate headline might be something like this:
    Change.org declines business opportunity with "Stand". Not very sexy, is it?

    People here really need to understand that Mr. Russo is just doing his job. As a blogger of this particular variety, his job requires the collection of hits and readers. Hits and readership come from controversy - from exactly the emotionality described in a previous comment.

    Mr. Russo has never foisted any illusions on the the rest of us that this website serves some sort of function related to a thoughtful, reasoned, rational discussion and exchange of information and ideas.

    Cut Mr. Russo some slack. This is a Tribune site. If he doesn't foment and stick it in someone's eye, he loses readers.

  • Kenzo Shibata: Chicago Teacher Stands Up to Stand for Children and Wins http://ow.ly/bJWv6

  • Lakeshore East getting [private] school | News | Chicago Journal http://ow.ly/bJWEp

  • Clemente latest high school to adopt International Baccalaureate program - Chicago Sun-Times http://ow.ly/bJWzd

  • In reply to Alexander Russo:

    Come on... "sometimes parents are right, sometimes they're wrong -- but it's not usually because of one call or meeting or sipping a soda given to them by one side or the other" you're too long outside chi-town?! Jonah and the boys would not drive through Englewood let alone stop long enough to buy the parent's a soda.(or as we say here "pop"). Back to life and back to reality.

  • Stand's Jonah Edelman decries Change's decision, lists 2012 accomplishments including MA collaboration http://ow.ly/bKn6r

  • In reply to Alexander Russo:

    Can you find one proposal by Edelman that can be defended by qualitative education research??? You can't! These clowns do not back their work with peer reviewed research! That makes them shills for corporate big money! No grassroots! Just corporate green!

  • briseur de grève

  • Talked with Gert my neighbor last night. She says she doesn't quite understand the positioning that's taking place with the different groups. If kids were really first, all of them would have great jobs after they graduated from school. So she says who's offering the kids the jobs? Is it the parents? No. Teachers? No. Hedge fund managers and corporations? Yeah.
    She says it must mean that the corporations don't like what they're having to choose from, and so are going in and telling schools what their employees have to be to be useful and productive. Gert says she is going to support anyone who is going to get her kids a job. Everyone else, get out of the way.

  • In reply to LTwain:

    Hope the Kool-aid is yummy for Gert.

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    By the way, the lead is inaccurate, the petition was not started by teachers unions. It was started by a teacher activist. I contributed my part in getting signons and I can attest to the fact that this was very much a grassroots effort.

    Anyone with the time and journalist wherewithal to do so could easily confirm that major staffers from the teachers' unions didn't signon until later in the process if at all.

  • Yesterday, I tried to leave a comment underneath the statement by Mr. Gonzalez on STAND for Illinois' website: http://stand.org/illinois/blog/2012/06/20/censorship-parent-voice-chicago
    They seem to be censoring my post from yesterday, I promise no profanity was used. Mr. Gonzalez and Stand certainly have a lot to say about censorship and parent voice but have no problem censoring the parent voice on their website. The truth is Mr. Gonalez, Mr. Adelman, Ms. Anderson, the executive staff and the board do not represent CPS parent voice, no matter how many elected officials they buy.

  • In reply to CPS mom:

    I too attempted to leave a comment on the site and it has never posted. If Stand On Children thinks removal from the website is censoring parent voice what do they say about the appointed school board... this is my definition of censorship. Look at the records of the voting on CPS Board... no DISSENTING VOTES. How can you have a school board that never has a single person dissent from the policies handed over. This is the greatest censorship of parent voice!

  • note from stand ED jonah edelman decries decision, notes stand's accomplishments including union collab in MA -- for what it's worth :-)


  • This is Chicago! We are not weak Alex! Alex, this is on you, can you say any proposal from Edelman's group is backed by qualitative educational research as being viable? Remember, this is the same research that foreign countries KNOW how to use to improve instruction! Alex, why can't CEO's support the best educational research for instruction, unless they have another agenda! You know, the corporate agenda!

  • Old Becomes ‘New’ in Venture Capitalist Effort to Disrupt Public Education. Chicago Teachers Union Critique of “ELP Ventures: Supporting Innovation in Public Education for Chicago’s Global Future.” The new proposal from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs to solve Chicago’s education “crisis” does not offer anything new, despite the fact that the document repeatedly refers to combatting the “status quo.” The group that put this plan together, members of the Council’s Emerging Leaders initiative, claim to have access to business and education leaders who will be able, for the first time ever, to launch radical education projects that will have measurable outcomes.

    This thought is incredibly arrogant and shows that none of the members have read anything about Chicago Public Schools (CPS) except for a few sound bites from the corporate reformers who are still manipulating the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) scores and distorting the truth about American students’ ability to take a test.

    continued ......................

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