I’d like to share with you what I learned about #PurpleforParents over the past few weeks.  I will be careful to accurately represent the truth as I know it and to not mischaracterize the purple for parents group, individuals, or their objectives.

For those that don’t know, a few weeks ago I posted a video on Arizona’s Working Poor’s YouTube channel where I discussed the accusation from P4P (purple for parents group) that teachers were greedy and hurting children.  Many P4P members watched it and it resonated with them. The video was passed along to their founder (Forest), and he reached out to me. Forest wished to have a public discussion (on FaceBook live) in hopes that the nasty behavior and fighting on FaceBook groups and forums would diminish. (He was wise to try this because as Mike Broomhead discussed at the P4P town hall meeting, he was not allowed to promote the P4P cause on his talk-show because the conservative news station didn’t want to be affiliated with P4P.)  Forest hoped that if we could find some common ground that this would perhaps help de-escalate hostilities between the groups.

I was unsure if Forest’s stated goals were his true intention or not, but figured the risk was worth the reward.  The risk was that I’d be publicly admonished and ridiculed, that my #REDforED community would consider my actions to be collusion, giving voice to the devil, and subversive to the causes of promoting public education.  In addition, the P4P community could use my words out of context to promote their own causes.

 

The potential reward was along these lines.  There are layers of truth and understanding (without getting too philosophical).  There are things we know to be true (for example, we’re born and we die). Then there are things we believe because of interpretations of those truths (because I’ll die I need to make this experience count and be meaningful, or, none of this matters at all because I’m going to die anyway).  

I believed that the P4P were wrong about the basic facts, the first layer of truth and understanding. I hoped that by having a conversation with Forest I could bring to light some truths that were misunderstood.

After much discussion and some planning, Forest and I had the talk on FaceBook live.  To make that happen Forest added me the his group, P4P.  This infuriated a few P4P members as they saw him as colluding with the enemy, essentially letting a fox in the hen house.  

I stayed a member for a week, didn’t post at all, but did respond to some questions asked of me, and only saw what came across my FaceBook feed.  I didn’t search their page, I had a lot of things to do, like graduation, finals, and projects for Arizona’s Working Poor. A few members reached out to me personally in a positive manner and we talked about a few things.

All of that said, I am basing my “expertise,” about the P4P group on my conversations with Forest, my interview on FaceBook live, the interactions I’ve had with P4P members, and the conversations that transpired about me in the P4P group.

Here’s what I believe to be true about P4P and their platform.

  1. They were created in response to the walk-out (like nuclear fall-out).
  2. They believe the #REDforED movement is a nationally organized political ploy designed for the advancement of socialism.
  3. They want to punish teachers for participating in the walk-out.
  4. They believe educators that are not behind #REDforED are being persecuted and some even have been fired.
  5. They wish to take steps to “protect children,” and prevent such a walk-out in the future with legislation.
  6. They believe the voucher system is a must, even if it is unfair (so long as it benefits their child).
  7. They want to have a majority vote reserved on school boards for parents of children attending those schools.
  8. They believe teachers are indoctrinating their children for political gain.
  9. They vilify and belittle teachers, believing we are the ultimate problem with public education.
  10. They make associations and correlations between anything bad in education and #REDforED.
    1. For example, a sex education policy in California is proof of why “we” must stop #REDforED (see point two).

A few comments and observations:

  1. There is common ground, but perhaps only in common vocabulary, not outcome.  I will not discuss those things here, but perhaps in a future post.
  2. When writing this post I googled, “#purpleforparents.”  The first thing that came up was The Patriot Movement. You can read about that group here.  Governor Ducey took pictures with them, perhaps without understanding what they stood for, then denounced their actions and politics.
  3. However, the PurpleforParents group have political backing from Kelly Townsend and Diane Douglas.  These two have quickly aligned themselves with the P4P group and their platform.  (Interesting that the conservative newsradio station felt this group was too radical for them, but Townsend and Douglas jumped right on board.)  
  4. Forest was respectful and treated me as I’d like to be treated.  However, we do not appear to be on speaking terms any longer. I posted on social media that P4P wished to punish and teachers, that they took joy in vilifying teachers, and that they couldn’t move past the walk-out.  This was considered to be inflammatory and insulting. I was no longer “the reasonable” member of REDforED according to the P4P members.
  5. During the FaceBook live video I mentioned the amount of my salary.  The P4P group hears (and believes) a salary average of $48,000 or $52,000 for teachers in AZ. I’m going into my 12th year and the contract I signed this past March is a few dollars over $36,000.
    I was accused of lying and warned that I’d be exposed publicly as a fraud when they posted my contract amount (they were going to look it up since it was public).  I posted it myself and … they started attacking other things.
  6. They are absolutely furious about the walk-out because some parents, families and employees were financially damaged.  They initially discuss this anger being over kids being used as pawns (their phrase), but the conversation revolves around the financial consequences experienced by those who had no voice in the matter of whether to walk-out or not.
  7. Some are reasonable and willing to listen and discuss interpretation of facts.
  8. I left the group when it became apparent that they needed fuel for their rage to burn longer and my presence there was the fuel they needed.  I left with an invitation to any P4P members to reach out to me if they wanted to discuss any of the issues at hand. A few reached out after this, but were … less than civil.  
    1. I understand this post may be used as more fuel for their fire, but I wish to inform those outside of P4P what’s going on there.
  9. The group does not appear to be focused on anything regarding reforming public education. Their formation is an unintended consequence of the walk-out.   

To summarize, the P4P group was born out of anger sparked by the walk-out.  They seek to punish teachers and they believe #REDforED is a nationally organized political campaign against conservative politics.  They believe that teachers are indoctrinating children politically, and are generally very hateful towards teachers. They also believe that public policy should be whatever is best for “their” child, not what is best for all children.  

The following is an advertisement made by the P4P group.  I think this is good evidence of much of what I’ve claimed above.

Here’s another that the P4P group made that shows how they view the #REDforED movement and campaign.

 

In response to all of this, we must ensure that we educate the public.  If someone of opposing views has questions, please, respectfully explore those differences.  If someone is uninformed entirely, present them with the facts, let them decide on their own.  And perhaps most importantly, if you’re attacked, no need to respond, just move on. The attacks come when all else has failed.

7 thoughts on “The #PurpleforParents Platform

  1. Tee Lambert says:

    Thank you Phillip for reaching out and trying to find common ground. I have always believed that until you have a better understanding of the counter point of view, it is difficult to close the gap.

    There are several groups, that are home school proponents and fills who want tax dollars to help with private school costs that are passionate. There are those that just feel that public schools are bad yet have no children in school. Purple 4 Parents allowed them to come together.

    Being a board member I have had the same kind of discussions for years. What is new is the aggressive negativity. That alarms me. It is good for all to be informed of folks mindset.

    But I digress, thank you for putting yourself in the line to encourage dialogue. But I agree with you pick your battles. They are not interested in understanding just rationalizing their point of view. Let’s just ensure that the public is informed.

    Tee

  2. Kathleen Honne says:

    As always I appreciate your thought. I am concerned that you added that purple advertisement without debunking all of the flaws in it. It does not seem I can add a picture of my own to my reply. MIGHT I suggested you either add facts refuting the add, or the most effective counter post I’ve seen, put out by SOS, which is quit similar to theirs;)

  3. Thank you for summarizing this for us. It was pretty much as I had expected. I have had the interesting opportunity to discuss some of these issues as I was in Apache Junction seeking signatures to run for LD 16. One woman was very concerned that I was attempting to take away her rights as a parent because I recommended voting no on proposition 305 for vouchers. I asked her what private school she would be sending her child to that would cost $4,000 or less. She responded it was just to supplement the cost.

    I did learn on the ADE wensite that apparently a parent cannot be paid to tutor their own child, but they can be paid to tutor somebody else’s child. I also ran into a woman who said she agreed that teachers should not be allowed to wear red in the classroom.

    This is some of what we are dealing with. However, I agree with you; we do not always have to attend every argument we are invited to.

  4. judyhaikudy says:

    Phillip,
    I took the oppty to attend the P4P Town Hall on 5/22 in Mesa because I wanted to understand (seek first to understand…) the P4P issues. I have to agree wholeheartedly with your platform points # 3 and #4.
    3. They want to punish teachers for participating in the walk-out.
    4.They believe educators that are not behind #REDforED are being persecuted and some even have been fired.
    While Forest opened with statements about common ground with Red4Ed, which I agree we have (transparency and accountability are both on each other’s lists), on 3 occasions the agenda seemed to break down and emotions flared regarding how “wrong” teachers were to walk out. They want retribution. Goldwater Institute guy was there too and directly challenged Diane Douglas to take legal action against teachers should “something” again happen in the Fall. This just adds fuel to the fire; Pointless IMHO and does not towards a dialogue or discussing the possible common ground.
    Many also seemed uneducated about the walk-out. One gentlemen’s question was how he couldn’t understand how the school districts gave everyone vacation at the same time. I believe it was Tolleson HS District Gov Board Member Steve Chapman on stage who several times, very straightforward and to the point, explained the walk-out and school safety issues.
    You are correct; I found this to be a largely uninformed yet passionate group. Those of us who venture out this summer to raise awareness and obtain signatures will need to be not only up on the facts, but also ready with examples that resonate with various types of voters. We need to be calm, ready to discuss, and like you say, move on if attacked.

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