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Update: Unraveling The Story Of Change Vs. Reform

Tumblr_lbysakTxOD1qz6f9yo1_r2_500What a strange little story this is turning out to be:

On behalf of public employees and their unions, a  progressive organization seemed to have kicked two hard-charging school reform groups out of its system.  The Huffington Post's Ryan Grim seemed to have broken the story.  

Only it turns out not to be as simple as that.  Four takeaways:  (1) The "victory" against Stand and StudentsFirst was real but it wasn't immediate or complete.  (2) Some organizations that seem super progressive -- Apple, Change -- turn out not to be as pure or open-minded as they might seem.  (3) StudentsFirst and Stand may share beliefs, funders, and strategies but are very different organizations.  (4) Like many other media outlets, HuffingtonPost needs to figure out how to update stories and/or post corrections more prominently.

A week ago, a Huffington Post article clamored that reform groups Stand and StudentsFirst had been kicked out of using Change.org petitions because they weren't progressive enough (Change.org Drops Michelle Rhee Group Under Pressure From Progressives).  

Reform opponents cheered. Stand officials gnashed their teeth.  A few people noted that Change.org is actually a for-profit company, not a nonprofit, and that business considerations might have been a factor in addition to ideological ones.  StudentsFirst wouldn't say how much money is involved.  I didn't even bother asking Change. In fact, StudentsFirst didn't have much to say about the situation -- they were focused on their letter to the union heads (see my reactions roundup here).

Then a few days later a Reuters story noted that Change wasn't actually cancelling contracts with the two groups but rather winding them up and not renewing them -- a point I wrote about here. This was still a victory for reform opponents, but it was more like getting Gates to wrap things up with ALEC eventually.  

Nobody (including me) seemed to have noticed that the initial HuffPost story had been corrected two days after it was initiall posted. Neither Stand nor StudentsFirst had sent out a press release noting this important distinction (at least not to me).  To see the HuffPost correction at the bottom of a story no one was looking at, scroll down here

Last night, word comes to me from Change that the organization remains "open to people from a range of viewpoints who share a common interest in changing their world for the better" but had decided to "conclude" the contracts with the two groups while they refined their user policy.  The Stand contract is already done, and the StudentsFirst is wrapping up "per the terms of our agreement."


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