I knew that the National Parents Union (NPU) was gearing up for its first big event this weekend in New Orleans, but it did not occur to me that ugly ad hominem screeds and tweets that diminish the work and the life experiences of the group’s founders, Keri Rodrigues and Alma Marquez, would start appearing so soon.
I should have known better.
I might understand the laughable cries of “astroturf” and “dark money” and “billionaires” if these hideous missives were not written by people whose network and livelihoods are also deeply connected to billionaires.
So let’s just call a spade a spade.
People like Diane Ravitch, Maurice Cunningham and Peter Greene, all of whom have impugned the motives of NPU, need to admit that the bee in their bonnet has nothing to do with billionaires. They revel in money from billionaires when it supports their causes and underwrites their efforts. In fact, they should be holding up a mirror in front of their own faces as they launch accusations about funders at fellow education advocates who happen to see things differently and support solutions and strategies that they oppose.
I have no official role or affiliation with the National Parents Union—my name is not anywhere on their paperwork and I am not currently in New Orleans. But I proudly support what they are doing and I am cheering on their efforts from the sidelines. Having seen Keri’s work with parents in Massachusetts up close and spent time with her three beautiful boys, it is preposterous that anyone would call her work “astroturf” or imply that the parents she helps to organize somehow don’t have the agency to decide to stand up and fight over the concerns they have about their children’s education. These are their babies.
Keri and Alma have come to this work because of their own personal experiences as students in America’s public school system. They have come to this work as mothers of children in America’s public school system. They do not favor one kind of school over another but are steadfast in their belief that every child, regardless of race, ethnicity or income, deserves to sit his or her bottom down every day in a safe place where they can learn with dignity and respect.
I have long said that one of my greatest frustrations is finding people who are willing to care deeply about other people’s kids. Keri and Alma answered that call many years ago and continue the fight to give voice to countless parents and families who just want what the writers of these ugly hit pieces have long enjoyed for their own children and grandchildren.
I am grateful for their relentless commitment to making school better for the children who most need a champion in their corner.