No one knows for sure when Stand for Children abandoned its original mission of advocating for public schools and seeking more equitable funding.
But by 2011, Stand for Children had become a handmaiden of the hedge fund managers and super-rich, promoting their agenda of privatization. Its founder, Jonah Edelman, boasted at the Aspen Ideas Festival of how he had outsmarted the teachers’ unions and had bought up the best lobbyists. He worked with like-minded legislators in Illinois to pass legislation to take away teachers’ job protections. The legislation said that the Chicago Teachers Union would need a 75% approval to strike, and Edelman was certain this would never happen.
He sat side by side with an equity investor from Chicago as he boasted of his triumph in crushing the teachers of Illinois, especially those in Chicago.
It cost millions to achieve this “victory,” and he had no trouble raising the millions.
Stand for Children, with no roots in Massachusetts, went there to bully the teachers’ union with the threat of a ballot initiative to strip them of hard-won rights, so the union conceded to avoid an expensive election battle.
Flush with cash from equity investors, Stand is now operating in many states. It still pretends to be “for the children,” but it uses its money to attack their teachers. It still pretends to be a supporter of better education, but cannot explain how to get better education if teachers are treated as at-will employees, lacking any academic freedom or collective voice.
Many of its former supporters now refer to Stand for Children with a different name: They call it Stand On Children.
There is always hope for redemption. Jonah was embarrassed when the Aspen video went public (http://preaprez.wordpress.com/2011/07/10/jonah-edelman-apologizes-to-my-blog-readers/). He even recanted in a public letter. But he has not stopped trying to crush teachers and their unions.
Jonah, come home.
Jonah, think of the great legacy of your parents, Marian Wright Edelman and Peter Edelman.
Jonah, the civil rights movement of the 1960s fought so that workers could join a union to protect themselves.
Jonah, remember that Martin Luther King, Jr., died when he went to Memphis to defend the sanitation workers who wanted to join a union.
Jonah, leave the hedge fund managers and the equity investors and return to your roots. Fight for real education reform, not privatization. Respect those who teach our nation’s children.
It is never too late.