Two Views • Stand for Children controversy shouldn't hurt local schools
by: L.E. BASKOW Portland’s education advocacy organization Stand for Children faces heavy criticism for comments by Executive Director Jonah Edelman and for changes that have alienated longtime volunteers.

When I have a question about how to get my child to do his homework, I ask his teacher.When other children at school are not being nice, I ask the teacher for advice. And if I feel my child needs more challenging work, again I have a conversation with the teacher.

What I have never done is contact Stand for Children.

A few years ago, I was introduced to the organization Stand for Children at a fundraising event. Then, the organization recognized that our schools desperately needed proper funding. I quickly became a fan.

Every year that my son had been in school there have been cuts: cutting teachers, closing schools, cutting school days, cutting sports and after school activities. Stand's primary agenda was focused on school funding, as was mine. Then a year or so after I was introduced to them, something quickly changed.

When I was looking at how to work on funding, they were talking about teacher contracts. Recently in Portland, Stand organized what they described as an Education Forum. Stand passed out a flyer titled, 'Understanding the Portland Contract.'

My friend attended the event. Stand had invited certain people to be on a panel. She remembered a leader from the New Teacher Project and two people from Seattle who came to talk about their new contract (only now do I realize that Stand and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation were completely intertwined in their contract, too). She noticed an important group was missing: No teacher representing the union's position was on the panel.

Soon, there was news that the teachers and the district had agreed on a new contract. That day I remember talking with a teacher friend at my sons' school and she was so happy that there wouldn't be long drawn-out negotiations. She could just concentrate on her students, that she felt a little more at ease.

It made me feel good too.

About a day later, I was forwarded an email from Stand that said that the group was going to have a rally to protest the contract vote in front on the school board. In the email, Stand requested that everyone to wear black.

I was utterly shocked and mad. This is when I knew that it was an organization that didn't have our kids' interests at heart. It had its own agenda.

After watching the video of Stand's national leader proudly attacking teachers and working to silence their voice in Illinois, I realized that was the same thing they were trying to do here in Oregon (Portland).

Stand for Children members in Oregon should be very disappointed. I encourage Stand for Children members and current coalition partners to look deeper into the organization's true agenda and to pay close attention to its funders.

I know that I am not alone when I say that the biggest problem our schools are facing is lack of funding. Every parent knows that. The only way for students to succeed is if all the adults involved in public education to work together.

I'm still going to fight for proper funding, but this time I am going to collaborate with my PTA. PTA stands for Parent Teacher Association. The teachers' voice is immeasurable.

Patty Fink of Southwest Portland is a Portland Public Schools parent.

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