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Michelle Fine, (212) 817-8710,
Stan Karp, (973) 624-1815 x28,
Dan Quinn, (517) 203-2940,

Review: AEI's Parent Power Report Unevenly Advocates for a Narrow School Reform Agenda

EAST LANSING, Mich. (Sept. 6, 2012)—A highly politicized report from the American Enterprise Institute analyzed the growth of education reform advocacy organizations (ERAOs), which organize parents into larger policy debates.

The report, Parent power: Grass-roots activism and K-12 education reform, was authored by Andrew Kelly and Patrick McGuinn.  Kelly and McGuinn studied new education reform advocacy groups and focused almost exclusively on school choice and parent mobilization. Michelle Fine and Stan Karp recently reviewed the report for the Think Twice think tank review project. The review was produced by the National Education Policy Center with funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

Both the report and review come at an important time, as there is increased national attention on the role of education reform advocacy groups with the upcoming release of the Hollywood movie Won't Back Down and the growing interest in "parent trigger" to promote school turnarounds.

Reviewers Fine and Karp found: "this new report is neither a credible research study nor a primer on parent power. Rather, it offers political strategy for a well-funded education reform campaign that is now seeking to build a mass constituency of parents."

Because the report focuses on "a narrow, market-driven set of reform organizations," it ignores the work of groups who advocate for system-wide education reform and equity.

Additionally, the reviewers found that the report suffers from several research defects, including:

  • Inadequate and slanted literature review
  • Selective sampling
  • Lack of objectivity

Find the review by Fine and Karp on the Great Lakes Center website at:

Find Parent Power: Grass-Roots Activism and K-12 Education Reform by Andrew Kelly and Patrick McGuinn on the web at:

Think Twice, a project of the National Education Policy Center, provides the public, policy makers and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. The project is made possible in part by funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

The review is also available on the National Education Policy Center website at:


The mission of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice is to support and disseminate high quality research and reviews of research for the purpose of informing education policy and to develop research-based resources for use by those who advocate for education reform.

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