At a news conference on October 18, Kansas State Representative Kay O’Connor announced the formation of Parents in Control (PIC), a lobbying organization aimed at promoting and influencing legislation that will increase parent control of the educational decisions concerning their children.
O’Connor, who has introduced school voucher legislation in the Kansas state legislature for the past five years, is the group’s executive director. A popular speaker nationwide on the topic of school choice, she is author of the forthcoming School Choice 101, a book she hopes will become a primer for those interested in the issue.
David Kirkpatrick, Pennsylvania, is chairman of the PIC Board of Directors. Kirkpatrick is the author of many books, a lifetime member of the National Education Association, and a distinguished fellow at the Blum Center at Marquette University, Milwaukee.
PIC Vice Chairwoman Roxanne Petteway, California, is president of the Education Research Council and senior research analyst for the Coalition on Urban Affairs. She was recently a keynote speaker at the national convention of Concerned Women of America, held in Washington, DC.
Patricia Stewart, South Carolina, serves as PIC’s secretary/treasurer. She is cofounder of PAULA’s Best (Politically Active United Ladies Association), formed as a counterpoint to the liberal EMILY’S List. Stewart is a South Carolina representative for the National Right to Read Foundation and author of I Love to Tell the Story, a biography of South Carolina humanitarian John Fling.
When asked, “why another organization in the movement for parental choice?” O’Connor explained that most national organizations addressing the school choice issue are educational organizations. “We believe that we are going to be one of only two 501(c)(4)s [lobbying organizations] in the nation on this issue.” The other 501(c)(4) group is the Indianapolis, Indiana-based American Education Reform Foundation.
PIC chapters are in formation nationwide. Without endorsing candidates, contributing to candidates, or otherwise influencing an election, PIC chapters will be doing work that will promote school choice legislation. Even more importantly, noted O’Connor, PIC will place a heavy emphasis on raising the funds needed to hire professional lobbying agencies to represent its perspective in state legislatures across the country.
“The public school bureaucracy controls the state legislatures’ Education Committees,” explained O’Connor. “They’re called the ‘killing fields’ for school choice legislation, because even the best-crafted legislation often can’t survive.” Many of the legislators who serve on state education committees, notes O’Connor, are themselves current or retired teachers, school board members, or teacher union members.
“The public school bureaucracy is able to use tax dollars–either directly or indirectly–to hire its own lobbyists to represent them before these loaded committees,” notes O’Connor. “It’s high time that taxpayers get their own lobbyists to break the stranglehold that the government monopoly has on education policy.”
For more information on PIC or to join this exciting new effort, contact the national PIC office at 800/277-6368, pin 3092. In the Kansas City metropolitan area, call 913/393-1991.