Here's an EdWeek piece about these groups
Here is Diane Ravitch characterizing them and their funders as a group:
It is about the three biggest foundations in the education field: the Gates Foundation, the Walton Foundation, and the Broad Foundation. Over time, the funding priorities of these foundations have begun to converge around charters and teacher evaluation as the keys to school reform. Walton adds vouchers to the mix, but otherwise shares the agenda. The agenda looks amazingly like the Mitt Romney policy agenda, i.e., the Bush education agenda, the Milton Friedman choice agenda.
The new "education reform" groups
From the web site:
Very odd organization. It appears to have a huge staff with titles that suggest many more staff, but according to the 990 linked on the web site salary expenses are low and the executive director doesn't seem work much.
And there's no mission statement.
Another face of Democrats for Education Reform
Education Reform Now (ERN) envisions an America whose commitment to social justice is realized by every child having the social and economic opportunity afforded by a quality public education, regardless of race, gender, geography, or socio-economic status. Achieving this vision necessitates a powerful chorus of voices within the education policy debate advancing a true agenda of reform, and speaking up on behalf of America's children. Education Reform Now seeks to empower individuals with reliable information so that the chorus may be informed and impactful.
The New Jersey branch of ERN is building a movement - with a focus on the state's largest city, Newark - to bring together committed individuals who are dedicated to the ideal that every child deserves an excellent education. With your help, we can create strong momentum to support progressive education policy, celebrate high performing educators and schools beating the odds, and encourage true accountability across the state. Sign up below to join today.
"In too many cities and neighborhoods, parents are unable to enroll their kids in the best public schools -- there just aren't enough seats. We're working to make sure all families have a range of high quality schools to choose from, because our kids shouldn't have to rely on a lottery or the ZIP Code of their home to get a great education."
StudentsFirst has become a campaign contributor, as described here in TN:
With education issues high on the agenda for the upcoming legislative session, two new groups that favor charter schools and vouchers have spent lavishly on Tennessee House and Senate races.
Statement of Principles
A first-rate system of public education is the cornerstone of a prosperous, free and just society, yet millions of American children today – particularly low-income and children of color - are trapped in persistently failing schools that are part of deeply dysfunctional school systems. These systems, once viewed romantically as avenues of opportunity for all, have become captive to powerful, entrenched interests that too often put the demands of adults before the educational needs of children. This perverse hierarchy of priorities is political, and thus requires a political response.
Both political parties have failed to address the tragic decline of our system of public education, but it is the Democratic Party – our party – which must question how we allowed ourselves to drift so far from our mission. Fighting on behalf of our nation's most vulnerable individuals is what our party is supposed to stand for.
Democrats for Education Reform aims to return the Democratic Party to its rightful place as a champion of children, first and foremost, in America's public education systems.
We support leaders in our party who have the courage to challenge a failing status quo and who believe that the severity of our nation's educational crisis demands that we tackle this problem using every possible tool at our disposal.
We believe that reforming broken public school systems cannot be accomplished by tinkering at the margins, but rather through bold and revolutionary leadership. This requires opening up the traditional top-down monopoly of most school systems and empowering all parents to access great schools for their children.
We know that decisive action today will benefit our children, our party and ultimately our nation.
What We Stand For
We support policies which stimulate the creation of new, accountable public schools and which simultaneously close down failing schools
We support mechanisms that allow parents to select excellent schools for their children, and where education dollars follow each child to their school.
We support governance structures which hold leaders responsible, while giving them the tools to effectuate change. We believe in empowering mayors to lead urban school districts, so that they can be held accountable by the electorate.
We support policies that allow school principals and their school communities to select their teams of educators, holding them accountable for student performance but allowing them flexibility to exercise sound, professional judgment.
We support clearly-articulated national standards and expectations for core subject areas, while allowing states and local districts to determine how best to make sure that all students are reaching those standards.