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The Organization That Dare Not Speak Its Name*


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On Sunday, my wife came home from church with a leaflet and a strange story.

Someone who was a tad bit reluctant to provide her name had passed out a leaflet and attempted to recruit members of her congregation to an organization of parents fighting for better schools, PTA Now. But it didn’t really seem like the PTAs she knew, the Parent-Teacher Association organized in your child’s school.

It isn’t.

According to its web site, “Parents Taking Action (PTA) is a coalition of New York City parents who believe every child should have access to a great public school. We are standing up for our children, holding the Department of Education accountable and ensuring children are put ahead of special interests.”

A grass roots organization of public school parents? Think again: “PTA is a project of Education Reform Now, a non-profit organization that envisions an America in which every child, regardless of class or race, has the social and economic opportunities afforded by an excellent public education.”

Does Education Reform Now (ERN) sound familiar? It should: on its web site, ERN identifies Joel Klein as the chair of its board, and four Wall Street hedge fund types as the other board members. One of that number and past chair of the ERN board is John Petry. Petry is a co-founder of both the Success Academy Charter Schools, headed up by Eva Moskowitz, and Democrats for Education Reform (DFER). The only mention of DFER on the ERN web site appears in a short bio of Petry, as if it was an incidental relationship. It isn’t. ERN is the 501-c-3 not-for-profit arm of DFER. (If you unaware that ERN is an arm of DFER, you have not been following Ken Libby’s excellent DFER Watch.)

So there it is: PTANow is a front organization for ERN which is a front organization for DFER.

Democrats for Education Reform: the organization that dare not speak its name, but would rather “borrow” the good name of an organization with a long and honorable history of supporting public education.

And that tells you just about everything you need to know about this “grass roots” parent organization.


* With all due apologies to Oscar Wilde and my LGBT brothers and sisters for the use of this title.



  • 1 Phyllis C. Murray
    · Mar 14, 2012 at 10:29 am

    We need parents to join us in a protest against excessive paperwork in our schools. We need parents to join us as we continue to fight for a clean and safe and effective school in Albany, City Hall and Washington, DC. Let the record show that for over 50 years, the UFT has been an advocate for children as well as teachers.
    Today, we have the Education Mayor and we have the Education Governor. That’s fine. But after they leave office, the UFT will remain steadfast. That’s how it has been and it shall always be.

  • 2 Arthur Getzel
    · Mar 16, 2012 at 11:45 pm

    Again and again we have these front organizations for the deform movement of education. When organizations have to lie about their true purpose, it shows that there is no ethics behind their objectives. And their objectives are simple–privatize education and concomitantly resegregate children who have learning differences.

  • 3 Weekly Update: 40+ School boards in Texas say enough is enough on testing, Arne Duncan gets an “F” and another one for the “How Low Can You Go?” category | Seattle.City University
    · Mar 18, 2012 at 1:39 am

    […] his hedge fund buddies and the Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) take the cake. Check out The Organization That Dare Not Speak Its Name* on […]

  • 4 Richie
    · Mar 18, 2012 at 9:53 am

    Is there some sort of letter we could send out to the parents warning them of this group?

  • 5 Leo Casey
    · Mar 18, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    It is being done.