As an education advocacy organization, our mission at Stand for Children is to ensure that all children, regardless of their background, graduate from high school prepared for, and with access to, college and career training. To transform our dream into reality, we utilize a four-part Theory of Change in our work:
- Educate and Empower parents and community members;
- Advocate for effective policy and investments;
- Ensure that those policies and funding reach classrooms and help kids;
- Elect education champions who will stand up for our priorities.
While the first three components have our team organizing parents across the state, advocating in Olympia during the legislative session, and partnering with districts to implement successful programs, the fourth one – electing education champions – kicks into gear during election season.
In Washington, an organization like ours can commit resources to support or oppose candidates if they form what’s called a Political Action Committee, also known as a PAC. The Stand for Children Washington PAC is a separate financial entity that is registered with and regularly reports to the Public Disclosure Commission. There are strict regulations on how much a PAC can contribute to and be in contact with any candidate’s campaign.
Our PAC’s purpose is to support that fourth component in our Theory of Change: elect education champions who will stand up for policies that support the education of every child in Washington. We've found that advocating for education policy works best when there are elected leaders who will always put the needs of students first in their decisions.
The reason that Stand for Children Washington is organized in this way is because we understand that our state education system is a product of the choices made during election season. In other words, who you vote for in an election is who will vote for your kids in Olympia (or on the school board, or on the city council).
Our PAC exists because we want to ensure that voters know which candidates are aligned with policy priorities that will support Washington kids. One way we do that is through our endorsement process.
An endorsement from the Stand for Children Washington PAC is a stamp of approval that says “this candidate is good for kids.” Voters can know that every candidate endorsed by our PAC has gone through an extensive vetting process and was chosen by one of our endorsement committees.
For the 2018 election cycle, we have three active committees: one in Tacoma, one in Spokane, and one statewide committee that also includes a member from each of the local groups. They are each comprised of parent members of Stand and members of our advisory board. Although our staff works closely to advise and organize the committee, we do not vote on endorsement decisions.
To receive an endorsement from our PAC, candidates must demonstrate that they are clearly aligned with and supportive of our education priorities through a series of measures, including:
- a written questionnaire that was developed with the input of our policy team and endorsement committee members;
- their voting record on education issues, if they have held elected office previously; and
- in-person interviews with the endorsement committee and members of our staff.
Endorsement decisions are voted on by the committees and then communicated to the public to guide voters who want to vote for candidates that have demonstrated a commitment to prioritizing Washington students.
In an arena dominated by political parties and adult-focused special interest groups, we are non-partisan and student-focused. We fearlessly and unapologetically challenge the status quo in pursuit of solutions that help more children graduate high school prepared for, and with access to, college and career training.
Our endorsement process is designed to find and support candidates that share our desire for bold change, who will make education their top priority, who can work strategically and effectively, and who want to work with us over the long term to improve outcomes for students across our state. This is how we elect education champions.