Plans are being laid out by a new group with ties to some of the biggest donors in Democratic politics to combat educational inequalities in the nation.
A new executive director of The Campaign for Our Shared Future claims that the organization has raised $9 million so far and hopes to raise millions more. Its strategists have chosen 15 states where the organization plans to work during the upcoming midterm elections, the upcoming school year, and the 2024 election cycle, including the home state of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Their objective is to mobilize parents, educators, and students to fight legislation and political rhetoric supported by the right that targets the way that racism, gender, and curriculum are addressed on K–12 campuses.
As liberal education leaders struggle to match the political momentum harnessed by conservatives boasting their initiatives on parents' rights, school history, and sex ed lessons, the campaign's emergence marks the most recent form of sophisticated community organizing and fundraising efforts focused on school boards and classrooms.
Former education grantmaking director at Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies Heather Harding, who took over as the campaign's executive director in July, stated in an interview that "schools and education have suddenly been caught in the crossfire of a culture war."
According to Harding, who has also worked for Teach for America and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, "a lot of these attacks have been motivated by politics." Children receiving an inclusive, purposeful education that promotes their potential to be healthy and prosper in a multiracial democracy are what the campaign wants to be driven by.
The Campaign for Our Shared Future, which is ostensibly nonpartisan, and its separate advocacy fund have ties to Washington, D.C.-based organizations that have backed Democratic candidates and donated tens of millions of dollars to left-leaning causes during the 2018 midterm elections.
The nonprofit organization for the campaign was established in October 2021. According to D.C. corporate documents, the New Venture Fund and the Sixteen Thirty Fund, two social welfare organizations, registered the campaign's nonprofit and action fund branches in early May. These two organizations are run by Arabella Advisors, an organization that advises individuals and nonprofits on where to donate money and was created by former Clinton administration official Eric Kessler.
This organizational setup enables the Campaign for Our Shared Future to function without identifying its funders to the general public.
Harding declared, "We are independent. However, we don't want to put a bullseye on the back of any of our donors at this time, to be completely honest with you, given the way that actual white supremacists are posing as them and threatening families and educators.
However, its broad list of targeted states includes the key battleground states of Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. The group claimed it will soon reveal more about its precise intentions.
The campaign also intends to broadcast advertising in tandem with voter education initiatives it has already started on school board races in Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, and Michigan. Harding noted that the campaign is collaborating with Our Turn, a group that coordinates student activists, and will also provide training to Florida Student Power members.
"We're going to look at any location where legislation truly comes in the way of students getting what they need to learn, grow, and be successful," Harding said.
I can see that the conflict is escalating, she declared. "We believe that schools will continue to be somewhat targeted by presidential politics. We do hope that as more contributors join us, we can be broader and go deeper so that public schools can continue to be a backbone of democracy because we don't find it to be productive to the actual business of learning.
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