Campaign 2016: Standalone Education PACs - Is It Time?
I had the chance to chat for a few minutes yesterday afternoon with Naveed Amalfard, one of the co-founders of America's Teachers whose efforts have been written up recently in the LA Times among other places.
Describing the effort as a "a political startup," Amalfard laughs when asked and says "No, this is not a stunt." The organization is building a list of supporters, tolerating unsolicited queries like mine, and building out as much as it can given its two main heads are both still fulltime teachers.
Funders aren't disclosed, but the organization's supporters include former DNC head Howard Dean and former Green Dot head Steve Barr. The ultimate goal is to raise $1-2 million this cycle, says Amalfard. According to this recent LA Times article, they've raised much less than that so far.
The question that everyone seems to want to know, says Amafard, is which side they're on. "I get asked this all the time. We take money from all sides." But folks aren't entirely convinced, he says. They keep asking. "I know that it's literally unbelievable for some people, but we are not a proxy for anyone."
To be sure, the organization has picked three priorities (college costs, UPK, and the DREAM Act) that sidestep hot-button education reform items. "Let's solve these three issues first," he says.
Meantime, the organization is legally prohibited from contact with the Clinton campaign it supports. He doesn't know if the campaign is even aware of its existence. He just wants his candidate to make education a central part of her agenda. A voter pledge drive is coming up later this month. Their inspirations are Democratic strategists David Plouffe and David Axelrod, according to Amalfard.
Other inspirations might be Lawrence Lessig, whose recently-shuttered presidential campaign was largely a vehicle to raise issues surrounding campaign finance, and DFER, the reform-minded Democratic organization created to use campaign contributions and other forms of political advocacy to pressure candidates. (Is there a PAC associated with the Badass Teachers, or with Diane Ravitch's NEPC, or United Opt Out? )
Meantime, anyone who wants to give to the effort should go here.
Related posts: A Teacher-Led Campaign PAC.