Stand for Children

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Stand for Children
C4 logo - white bkgd.jpg
Founded 1996
Founder Jonah Edelman
Area served
Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Washington
Key people
Jonah Edelman, Co-Founder and CEO
Slogan Channeling the power of parents and educators to transform our public schools
Website [1]

Stand for Children is an American education advocacy group. Founded in 1996 following a Children's Defense Fund rally[1] the non-profit helps organize around changes in public education. Since 1999, Stand members have affected policy reforms and used over $3.5 billion in public funding for programs to impact the lives of nearly 3.9 million children.[2][3] Over the years, Stand has shifted its focus from children’s issues to improving public education funding to changing the public education system. The organization is includes both a 501(c)(4) advocacy organization called Stand for Children,[4] as well as a 501(c)(3) training organization called Stand for Children Leadership Center.[5]


On June 1, 1996, over 300,000 people rallied in Washington, DC for “Stand for Children Day” at the Lincoln Memorial. This event was the largest demonstration for children in US history,[1] in support of children. Rosa Parks, civil rights movement icon, made a statement that challenged the people of nation to commit themselves to improving the lives of children, saying, "If I can sit down for justice, you can stand up for children."[6] Two days later, the cover of Time Magazine featured a young girl’s face with the headline, “Who Speaks for Kids?,” and an article inside had an interview with long-time children’s activist Marian Wright Edelman, the mother of Stand’s CEO and co-founder, Jonah Edelman.[7]

Following their work at the rally, Jonah Edelman and Eliza Leighton founded Stand for Children seeking to pursue ongoing advocacy for the nation’s children. The organization backed hundreds of rallies nationwide over the next two years,[8] before moving toward more systemic changes. Today, Jonah Edelman is the CEO of Stand for Children, and Eliza Leighton is a member of the Board of Directors of Stand for Children Leadership Center.[9]

Stand for Children opened a series of offices around the United States. Two of those, in Oregon and Tennessee, are still home to Stand offices, and Portland, Oregon is the seat of Stand’s headquarters, where Edelman moved in 1999.[10] At the start, the ways in which the organization sought to help children were sweeping in scope, while victories were very localized. Over time, Stand grew in the direction of focusing on statewide issues—particularly public education funding, which seemed of highest concern to parents and other community members.[11]

Since 1999, Stand has claimed over 100 state and local victories, affecting billions of dollars in public funding and the lives of nearly 4 million children.[12] After seeing successes in the effort to increase funding for public education, the organization decided to reassess its efforts. The organization saw that the problems it sought to solve couldn’t simply be dealt with from a financial angle but rather needed to be addressed with a vision for systemic change.[13] Currently, Stand is in a strategic expansion phase, broadening its reach to states where it believes it can make the most significant difference for children at all levels of government.[14]



Stand for Children’s Illinois office attracted the attention of political commentators in the state for both their historically record-breaking Fall 2010 Illinois election campaign contributions[15] and their support of the Performance Counts agenda,[16][17] a legislative proposal that would overhaul current policies in areas including tenure rules and educator evaluation.[18]

The Performance Counts legislative agenda passed the IL Senate with a 59-0 vote on April 15. The IL House passed SB 7 on May 12 by a vote of 112-1-1. Governor Pat Quinn signed it into law on June 13, 2011. It was introduced and passed as Senate Bill 7 after months of open negotiations with all stakeholders, including Advance Illinois, Illinois Education Association, Illinois Federation of Teachers, Chicago Teacher’s Union, school management groups, Chicago Public Schools, and Stand for Children, and consensus was initially reached on Stand and Advance Illinois’ preferred reforms to teacher tenure, layoffs, and dismissal; principal discretion in hiring; and even on the contract negotiation process.[19][20][21] Nevertheless, Stand for Children has come under criticism for Jonah Edelman's account of their generously financed campaign for SB 7 and their strategic approach to working with the Chicago Teachers Union as well as the Illinois Education Association.[22] SB 7 has had an impact in teacher negotiations. It "helped create an atmosphere in contract negotiations that arbitrator Edwin Benn, a Glencoe attorney, described in his report as "toxic." Nonetheless, "the process hasn't run its course yet," Robin Steans, executive director of Advance Illinois, said. "Until we reach an agreement we won't know whether it has helped or hurt. Certainly, it hasn't played out in the way I would've expected or in some cases as the law intended."[23] SB 7 included provisions limiting the right of Chicago Teachers to strike. Given that the law played a large part in provoking the first Chicago Teachers Union strike in 25 years, one can safely assume that things did not turn out as Ms. Steans intended. Mr. Edelman would probably have to agree—in the aforementioned video, Edelman emphasizes his belief that the law makes a Chicago Teachers strike a practical impossibility.

The Chicago Tribune called Stand “a new force in Illinois politics.”[24] In all, two Chicago newspapers published editorials in favor of Performance Counts.[25][26][27] Some journalists questioned the $2.9 million raised by Stand for Children’s Illinois PAC due to the affiliate’s recent formation and fundraising in the months before a new Illinois law capped campaign contributions for individuals and corporations.[28] These funds, donated by a small number of businesspeople giving hundreds of thousands of dollars each, led detractors question the organization’s grassroots support in the state.[29] Some refer to such organizations as "astroturf" groups, a play on "grass roots" organizations. Instead of gradually building up a "grass roots" base within a community through years of organizing, "astro turf" organizations buy influence, while attempting to portray themselves as based in the community. Stand held what it called a “Community conversation regarding the contract negotiations of Chicago Public School teachers” in the run-up to the Chicago Teachers strike of last year. The event attracted Stand's full-time staffers, and only one parent who was aligned with Stand—evidence that at minimum, Stand does not have deep roots within Chicago's communities.[30]

Affiliate offices[edit]

Currently, Stand for Children has 11 state affiliates: Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Oregon, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Washington. They are supported by national offices in Portland, Oregon, and Boston, Massachusetts.[14][31] While Stand for Children and Stand for Children Leadership Center are jointly led by CEO Jonah Edelman, they have distinct goals and methods of execution aligned with the sections of the federal tax code under which they are each described. Stand for Children, which is described under section 501(c)(4) is the grassroots advocacy group that works on the ground to mobilize concerned citizen activists at the local and state level to convince elected officials and voters to pass lasting and necessary education reforms (and to convince voters to hold elected officials accountable if they don’t).[32][33] Stand for Children Leadership Center is a section 501(c)(3) organization that trains ordinary people to be effective citizen leaders capable of solving problems facing children, both locally and statewide.[34]

In 2011, Stand for Children was cited in Time Magazine for “delivering results and changing how politicians think about grassroots education reform.” This acclaim was attributed to their work to improve school funding in Oregon, teacher evaluations in Colorado, and teacher policy in Illinois.[35]


Critics of the group assert that it represents business interests.[36][37]—major funders include the Walton Family and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundations. Education policy analyst Diane Ravitch criticized the group for opposing teacher's unions and seeking to impose standardized testing on public schools.[38] Susan Barrett, former volunteer co-leader of a Stand for Children team in Portland Oregon, left the organization due to concerns that corporate donors and wealthy board members influence reforms.[39] In 2009, Stand for Children volunteers in Massachusetts witnessed an organizational change in favor of promoting charter schools. The former volunteers organized to protest a ballot initiative filed by Stand for Children. Former Stand for Children volunteers said the ballot measure puts the careers of teachers at the mercy of a rating system while doing nothing to improve teaching in schools.[40]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Swanee Hunt. “Young Man with a Strong Voice for America’s Children.” The Beaufort Gazette, 11 June 2005.
  2. ^ Stand for Children. "Annual Report 2008". Retrieved 2010-08-04. 
  3. ^ Katy Schutlz (2009-09-04). "DPS Candidates Rate Stand for Children.". The Colorado Statesman. Retrieved 2010-05-28. 
  4. ^ Stand for Children. "About Stand for Children". Retrieved 2010-08-04. 
  5. ^ Stand for Children Leadership Center. "About Stand for Children Leadership Center". Retrieved 2010-08-04. 
  6. ^ Marian Wright Edelman (2005-11-04). "Remembering and Following Mrs. Rosa Parks.". Black Voice News. Retrieved 2010-05-28. 
  7. ^ Elizabeth Gleik with Marian Wright Edelman (1996-06-03). "The Children’s Crusade.". Time Magazine. Retrieved 2010-05-28. 
  8. ^ Laura Faer. "Communities Across America to Take a Stand for Children.". Common Dreams NewsWire. Retrieved 2010-05-26. 
  9. ^ Stand for Children Leadership Center. "Stand for Children Leadership Center Board of Directors". Retrieved 2012-04-10. 
  10. ^ Linda Jacobson (1999-06-26). "Another ‘Stand for Children.'". Education Week. Retrieved 2010-05-26. 
  11. ^ Anita Burke (2005-01-27). "Amrhein to Lobby for Children". Mail Tribune. Retrieved 2010-05-26. 
  12. ^ Katy Schutlz (2009-09-04). "DPS Candidates Rate Stand for Children". The Colorado Statesman. Retrieved 2010-05-28. 
  13. ^ Ian B. Murphy (2008-09-18). "New Stand for Children Head Wants More Ed Funding Reform". Taunton Daily Gazette. Retrieved 2010-08-04. 
  14. ^ a b Stand for Children. "Annual Report 2008". Retrieved 2010-08-04. 
  15. ^ Rich Miller (2010-10-21). "Who’s behind Stand for Children?". Illinois Times. Retrieved 2011-02-13. 
  16. ^ Stephanie Banchero (2011-02-04). "Illinois Attempts to Link Teacher Tenure to Results.". Retrieved 2011-02-11. 
  17. ^ Doug Finke (2011-02-08). "Education bill could be headed to Illinois House by late March, lawmaker says.". Retrieved 2011-02-11. 
  18. ^ "Performance Counts: a common sense solution to build better schools in Illinois.". Retrieved 2011-05-11. 
  19. ^ Sean Cavanagh (2011-04-25). "A Bargain of a Bill in Illinois?". Retrieved 2011-07-11. 
  20. ^ "School reform passes, and the kids win". 2011-05-12. Retrieved 2011-07-11. 
  21. ^ Esther Cepeda (2011-05-11). "Teacher, students win in reform plan". Retrieved 2011-07-11. 
  22. ^ George N. Schmidt (2011-07-10). "'Stand for Children' leader insists he's not a union busting kind of guy... Jonah Edelman 'apologizes' to just about everybody for Aspen Institute remarks". Retrieved 2011-07-11. 
  23. ^ "CPS finds few wins after school reform legislation". Chicago Tribune. 2012-07-23. 
  24. ^ Ray Long (2011-06-11). "New force in Illinois quickly pushes state toward school reform". Retrieved 2011-07-11. 
  25. ^ "This could be special.". 2010-12-20. Retrieved 2011-02-11. 
  26. ^ "The Power of a Teacher.". 2011-01-17. Retrieved 2011-02-11. 
  27. ^ "School reform bill needs teacher input.". 2011-01-17. Retrieved 2011-02-11. 
  28. ^ George N. Schmidt (January 22, 2011). "Emanuel's billionaire donors also bankrolling 'Stand for Children', pushing union-busting organizations in Illinois". Substance News. Retrieved 2011-02-11. 
  29. ^ Rich Miller (2011-01-27). "Stand for Children shows up with big bucks.". Illinois Times. Retrieved 2011-02-11. 
  30. ^ David R. Stone (2012-06-26). "Stand for Children shows up with big bucks.". Substance News. Retrieved 2013-03-31. 
  31. ^ Stand for Children. "Welcome". Retrieved 2010-08-04. 
  32. ^ Stand for Children. "About Stand for Children". Retrieved 2010-08-04. 
  33. ^ Ian B. Murphy (200-09-18). "New Stand for Children Head Wants More Ed Funding Reform.". Taunton Daily Gazette. Retrieved 2010-08-04.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  34. ^ Stand for Children Leadership Center. "About Stand for Children Leadership Center". Retrieved 2010-08-04. 
  35. ^ "School of Thought: 11 Education Activists for 2011.". 2011-01-06. Retrieved 2011-01-06. 
  36. ^ Levenson, Michael (June 8, 2012). "Stand for Children Has Record of Winning Concessions". The Boston Globe (The Boston Globe). Retrieved June 8, 2012. 
  37. ^ Strauss, Valerie (July 14, 2011). "Volunteer: Why I stopped helping Stand for Children". The Washington Post (The Washington Post). pp. The Answer Sheet. Retrieved June 8, 2012. 
  38. ^ Ravitch, Diane (14 June 2012). "Stand for Children Does Not Stand for Public Education". Diane Ravitch's blog. Retrieved 13 September 2012. 
  39. ^ Barrett, Susan (July 8, 2011). "Stand for Children: A Hometown Perspective of its Evolution". Retrieved May 23, 2013. 
  40. ^ "An Open Letter from Former Stand for Children Activists about Ballot Measure". Retrieved June 6, 2013. 

External links[edit]