Friday, December 03, 2010

Walton catalyst for DFER

I'm delighted to report that somebody (no doubt associated with the unions) has started a blog called DFER Watch ( – you know we're getting under their skin when they start a blog to watch us!  Someone recently posted the transcript of an outtake from my documentary, A Right Denied (, in which I describe how the idea for DFER developed.  Because I credit John Walton with being an inspiration for DFER, the blogger thinks it's a "gotcha" moment – it feeds their conspiracy theory that DFER is really a right-wing front group.  HA!  We simply saw how effective Walton and the Alliance for School Choice were in influencing Republican politicians on this issue, so we decided to create something that could be as effective on the Democratic side. 


So after we saw him speak at the Harvard Club, a couple of my friends and I went to talk to him afterwards and he invited us to come join this organization and so we participated in a few calls. And what we discovered was that we were the only Democrats on the call or in the room, and it was largely backed by well-known Republicans like John Walton and Wal-Mart and so forth.  They were quite successful at persuading Republican politicians to support whatever legislation and so forth but were having a lot more trouble getting traction with Democrats. And the reason became clear to us very quickly. It was because their sources of funding and who they were – all Republicans – when they came to talk to Democrats, the Democrats were sort of like, "What are you doing in my office and why should I listen to anything you have to say? This is some sort of Republican conspiracy to kill our schools and voucherize everything and harm the Democratic party."


The real problem, politically, was not the Republican party, it was the Democratic party. So it dawned on us, over the course of six months or a year, that it had to be an inside job. The main obstacle to education reform was moving the Democratic party, and it had to be Democrats who did it, it had to be an inside job. So that was the thesis behind the organization.



John Walton: DFER catalyst? So says Whitney Tilson in an interview from his documentary, A Right Denied. Here is a snippet:

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