The Parent Imperfect is back in Roslindale after fleeing the city for three days to end the sixth decade of his life in the anonymity of a classic Route 6 hotel within biking distance of the National Seashore. While I was gone, the education reform organization, Stand for Children, continued to make headlines, at the expense of Boston and the parents and children who rely on its public schools.
STAND is a national organization that sounds very good on paper (full disclosure, I once gave a very compelling STAND organizer $25 to join), but they have clearly decided to cast their lot with the corporate school reform agenda. Support for expansion of charter schools is only the beginning of that agenda.
Sadly, many of the mayoral candidates lined up to get STAND’s endorsement, which speaks to the sad state of the national debate on public education. The rush to the trough has made me look more closely at those candidates who didn’t get in line. In the end, John Connolly won the STAND endorsement. That’s one prize John may eventually regret winning.
The law doesn’t allow organizations like STAND to give $$$ directly to candidates, but STAND can do political ads highlighting a particular candidate’s position on a particular issue, like education reform. STAND could have done this very much on the sly, but decided that there was hay to be made by announcing very publicly that they were going to flood Boston with pro-Connolly ads focusing on the candidate’s ed reform credentials. This time, they seem to have overplayed their hand.
Connolly’s mother didn’t raise a fool. He sensed that allowing STAND to use his campaign to make statements about ed reform that, while popular with downtown interests (and probably in agreement with his own positions), might not play well with many voters. So, he stood down. In a week when there wasn’t a lot of news happening, he announced that he would ask STAND not to do any “independent” campaign in support of his candidacy.
Everyone from the Indignant Teacher to the Globe’s Larry Harmon have trashed Connolly for the way he’s handled all of this. I would have damned the candidate if he had allowed his campaign to become a vehicle for STAND’s message, so I hesitate to damn him for not doing so. My own critique of Connolly is for his position on education reform, rather than his failure to embrace the $$$ of a national reform organization that agrees with his position. Ironically, his actions may turn out to be the best and only way to keep STAND’s money (much of it from the corporate sector) out of the election. One can only hope…
The role of $$$ (regardless of the zip code it comes from) in elections is an important topic, and something need to be done to change the laws on campaign finance. I hope the conversation about STAND’s money doesn’t keep us from continuing to push all of the candidates to be very clear about how they intend to fix Boston’s schools.
- Connolly: I Don’t Want Money From Outside Groups (wbur.org)
- Education Reform Group Backs Connolly For Mayor (wbur.org)
- Boston Mayor Race : the Schools Issue Gets Divisive (hereandsphere.com)
- Michelle Rhee Rebuffed By Boston (mikethemadbiologist.com)