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Maurice Cunningham is a political science professor at U of Mass who specializes in following the money, especially Dark Money, where the donors are anonymous.
The Koch-Walton backed National Parents Union is experiencing turmoil at the top and severe mismanagement with two boards of directors featuring revolving directors and a disappeared co-founder..
The organization is holding a convening on May 15 and its members should demand some answers.
Here are questions they should be asking the leadership. Any media member who would like to learn about who is pulling the strings at NPU, feel free.
1. National Parents Union has two boards of directors, one board listed on the NPU webpage, and another on record with the Massachusetts Secretary of State’s Corporations Division. The website board members are Peter Cunningham, Dan Weisberg, Vivett Dukes, Arthur Soriano, Vincent Slaughter, Maria del Carmen Parro de Cano, and Dr. Paul Bloomberg. The directors listed on the November 2020 annual report required in Massachusetts are Keri Rodrigues and Tim Langan. There are important legal consequences involved in serving as a director. Can leadership clarify who exercise powers over the National Parents Union? This would be a good question to be asked by Mr. Cunningham, Ms. Dukes, Mr. Soriano, Mr. Slaughter, Ms. Parro de Cano, or Dr. Bloomberg.
2. The74 identified Ms. Rodrigues as elected in January 2020 to the presidency of NPU for a period of three years. In the annual statement required to be filed with the Massachusetts Secretary of State’s office in November 2020 Ms. Rodrigues is recorded as serving a term as president that ends on December 31, 2025. How long is Ms. Rodrigues’s term and when will the next election for officers of National Parents Union occur? A good question for anyone wanting to run for the well-compensated position of president.
3. In The74, Alma Marquez was identified as a co-founder and was also recorded as elected secretary-treasurer for a three year term. By August 2020 Ms. Marquez disappeared from NPU’s website. Ms. Marquez was also recorded as a director in NPU’s Articles of Organization filed with Massachusetts Secretary of State and signed by President Rodrigues on April 4, 2019. Ms. Marquez was dropped on the November 2020 annual report and from the webpage. What has happened to Ms. Marquez? Will there be an election for her successor as secretary-treasurer?
4. Not only Ms. Marquez has disappeared. Original website board member Gerard Robinson disappeared sometime between November 15 and December 8, 2020. Since March of this year original website board member Bibb Hubbard has disappeared meaning, that two of the four original website board members and the co-founder have been ousted in little over a year. Why are they gone and what explains the management follies?
5. In the 2020 annual report filed with the Massachusetts Secretary of State the two directors are identified as Ms. Rodrigues and Tim Langan. Ms. Rodrigues is listed as president and clerk, Mr. Langan as treasurer. They hold the same positions with Massachusetts Parents United (with one additional director), where they are also the two highest paid employees. Does National Parents Union have a Compensation Committee to assure fair compensation and adherence to ethical guidelines over conflicts of interest?Who are the highest compensated directors and officers, and what do they make?
6. On May 8 on Fox News Ms. Rodrigues stated that “We’ve got parent organizations in all 50 states, DC and Puerto Rico.” The only independent analysis of NPU membership shows that membership is largely charter schools and chains in twenty-two states with only four parent organizations represented. Will NPU go public with a list of its parent organizations?
7. According to published reports at The74, the Vela Education Fund, and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, National Parents Union has received funding from the following oligarchs through their own foundations or philanthropies they contribute to and control: the Walton family, Bill and Melinda Gates, Michael Dell, the late Eli Broad, Reed Hoffman, John Arnold, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, and Charles Koch. Are there other major donors? What is the annual budget?
8. The Vela Education Fund, a joint venture of the Walton family and Charles Koch, funds National Parents Union as well as the Home School Legal Defense Association, which has been identified as conservative Christian and anti-gay. Is the funding relationship with Vela consistent with NPU’s stated goal of honoring diversity?
9. Charles Koch also seems to be behind a new far right operation called Parents Defending Education, which is explicitly set up to fight against diversity and to honor the country’s white heritage. Will NPU denounce Parents Defending Education?
10. On the May 8 FoxNews program Ms. Rodrigues indicated reservations about the FDA’s approval and CDC review of the Covid-19 vaccine for 12-15 year olds. Is NPU advocating that CDC guidance is unreliable and that parents should not have their 12-15 year old children vaccinated against Covid-19?
A real board and real members would want answer to all of these questions. Open the floor!
[Full disclosure: as an educator in the UMass system, I am a union member. I write about dark money, democracy, and oligarchy.]