Who’s Funding the Nonprofit Behind “Parent Trigger” Push?

August 2, 2012; Source: The Fiscal Times

Fiscal Times columnist Liz Peek is one of the many voices celebrating the use of the “parent trigger” law in California by “determined parents in Adelanto, California, who bucked local teacher unions and took over their kids’ school.” Peek writes about the organization Parent Revolution, which pushed for the parent trigger legislation (the NPQ Newswire has also taken note of Parent Revolution here, here and, on Adelanto, here). Peek describes Parent Revolution as having a “liberal-leaning board” that has been “smeared by friends of the teachers union.” She then chides President Obama, who has arguably been friendlier to charter schools and Parent Revolution-type reforms than any president in history, for purportedly backing away from education reform in order to get the reelection campaign endorsement of the National Education Association. To Peeks, his misdeeds were that he “watered down the requirements of No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top” and used stimulus funding to keep 400,000 teachers employed. We’re unclear as to what’s so unspeakably horrible about keeping teachers on the job.

In any case, in lauding the Adelanto situation, Peek also describes the unsuccessful effort in Compton, Calif., where, she writes, “union activists allegedly told some of the mostly Hispanic families that they might be deported for supporting the takeover.” Peek’s use of “allegedly” allows her to get that charge into the second paragraph of her column, thereby implying that scare tactics and the teachers unions’ “traditional…abhor(ence)…[of] any outside tinkering with their control” were the main issues in play in Compton; the NPQ Newswire discussed the more substantive policy and political issues in the Compton controversy here.

Peek notes that Parent Revolution’s funders include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (RPA). On the Foundation Center’s online grants database, Parent Revolution’s funding since 2009 is largely limited to well known private foundations that are committed to school reform that is supportive of charter schools (the community foundation support is relatively minimal):

Grantmaker Name

Year Authorized

Grant Amount

East Bay Community Foundation

2011

$10,000

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

2010

$700,250

Eli & Edythe Broad Foundation

2010

$90,000

Silicon Valley Community Foundation

2010

$50,000

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

2010

$100,000

Eli & Edythe Broad Foundation

2009

$50,000

Walton Family Foundation, Inc.

2009

$100,000

Silicon Valley Community Foundation

2009

$10,000

 

We found the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (RPA) mention interesting in that it didn’t show up on the Foundation Center database. Parent Revolution was actually in the first cohort of grantees of the RPA-managed California Education Policy Fund (CEPF). Established by a “leadership grant” from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, CEPF distributes some $3 million a year in grants for groups focusing on reforming state education policy. Is the inclusion of Parent Revolution in the mix of the first year of grantees an ideological anomaly, a statement of openness to all types of educational reform, or a statement of the Fund’s conception of the kind of education policy reform California needs?

We would love to hear from NPQ Newswire readers with their assessment of CEPF’s two years of grant selections, which we present here:

Cohort 1

Cohort 2

Campaign for College Opportunity

American Institutes for Research

Children Now

Californians for Justice

EdTrust West

Career Ladders Project

Institute for Higher Education Leadership & Policy (IHELP)

Council for a Strong America

Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce Foundation

EdSource

New America Media

EdVoice Institute

Parent Revolution

Foundation for California Community Colleges

Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE)

Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund

West Hills Community College District/C6 Consortium

 

Give us your read on what the RPA/CEPF grants add up to for education policy reform in California.—Rick Cohen