by Michael Hartney
American Enterprise Institute
July 17, 2014
Recent changes in the education politics landscape are challenging the old assumption that parents are destined to play a passive role in school politics. In particular, a number of education reform advocacy organizations (ERAOs) are starting to organize parents to lobby policymakers on a host of school reforms. Parent organizing can make a tangible difference in the policy process when combined with more sophisticated tactics ERAOs use, such as advanced media campaigns, research advocacy, and large financial campaign contributions to preferred candidates. Parent organizing is unlikely to replace these elite tactics. In local school politics, parent organizing can be used to identify and support new candidates to replace recalcitrant incumbents. Parent organizing might also help persuade incumbents in state- and national-level politics to change their positions to support ERAO-favored reforms.

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