Date: August 10, 2004
Subject: Networking

The Parents United Network is preparing for battle. Forget the presidential election, PUN has bigger fish to fry: the 2005 legislative session, when K-12 funding will be on the table again.

According to a large spread in the current issue of the Minnesota School Boards Association Journal, the former Save Our Schools grassroots organization is evolving from a single group (Parents United for Public Schools, remember them from the academic standards and Cheri Pierson Yecke fights?) into a statewide network of local parent groups. This strategy could be very effective in creating a "a large and powerful coalition of citizens committed to public education," according to its web site. It has the advantage of a centralized message and resources (including a grant from the Minneapolis Foundation), with local leaders to make sure that the message is heard, to grow membership, and to put the feet on the street (and in the Capitol, and the State Office Building).

Look for PUN to position itself as a "centrist" (which in Minnesota means left-leaning) counterweight to EdWatch. They are already allied with PTOs (Parent Teacher Organizations), PTSAs (Parent/Teacher/Student Associations), school district legislative committees, several referenda campaigns, and other small ad-hoc parent groups. PUN will leverage its already sophisticated education and communications resources with their new networking strategy to compete for the hearts and minds of parents, and the respect of legislators, in 2005 and beyond.