To the casual web surfer, Leave My Child Alone (LMCA) appears to be a site for soccer moms, with friendly imagery and platitudes about child welfare. But slip below these surfaces and things changes. The name of the organization is an angry pun on the No Child Left Behind Act, which LMCA describes as “notorious.” But LMCA’s objection to the Act has nothing to do with education per se, but with a provision of the Act that grants recruiters from the United States military access to schools and to data about students. Leave My Child Alone, which began in San Francisco in April 2005, detests the military and wants recruiters to leave all students alone. It is a key part of an anti-military campaign that has targeted the nation’s schools as part of a long range strategy to undercut support for the war in Iraq and the War on Terror generally.
The group’s prime mover is Megan Matson. She is now based in Bolinas but was formerly a former creative director at a New York advertising agency and a supporter of Howard Dean. Nine months before the 2004 election, Matson organized Mainstream Moms Oppose Bush (MMOB) and set out to mobilize single mothers with “Adopt-a-Swing-State” letter-writing parties. MMOB also peddled “Dump Bush” bracelets, parodying Lance Armstrong’s, for $22 apiece. MMOB boasted 1,500 members in 45 states and sent out 500,000 letters. MMOB’s efforts were not enough to carry the day in the 2004 presidential election, but the group thereafter decided to do camouflage and continue its fight by other means.
Matson changed the name to Mainstream Moms Operation Blue, allowing her to preserve the acronym and proudly wear the color of electoral defeat. She calls it an “education-in-action” project working to better the future for children. “Moms know Blue means progressive of every stripe and flavor, pure and simple,” explains the organization’s ad copy, in which Matson also rails against “unauthorized recruitment.”
MMOB is listed on the Leave My Child Alone website as a “partner.” In a style similar to the election campaign, LMCA operates “opt-out” parties, urging parents to remove their children from recruitment lists in a way that they might with unwanted telemarketers. These parties are pitched as a way of helping people while also having a good time. The website reads:
_Want to host an event?It’s easy.
__HOST your own party or meetup this fall. We’ll get you everything you need to know to write a few letters, plan a school board outing and help more families Opt Out to protect our kids’ privacy from military recruiters.
__What do you need? Just a Host Kit, a printer, envelopes, stamps, pens, and some refreshments. If your group would like to participate in a nationwide call, you’ll need a speaker phone, or cell phones.
“Who should you invite?_ _Friends, neighbors, your reading group, your grassroots cohorts. Add to that anyone who thinks families should be making their own decisions about military service. Anyone who thinks No Child Left Behind is a problem. And anyone who reliably brings a good appetizer.In the meantime:
Opt Out your own kids,_ _if applicable; Help friends and neighbors do the same. Write letters to your local Superintendent & School Board encouraging the endorsement of the Optimum Opt Out Resolution (see Kit)_Look up your state School Board association _at www.nsba.org and send them a Resolution Protecting Family Privacy (see Downloads). Include a cover letter encouraging the adoption of Optimum Opt Out policy: A well-publicized, standalone Opt Out form, translated into applicable languages, and required as part of registration._Leave My Child Alone is not itself alone in its anti-military effort. In the spring of 2005 Matson announced, “We’re just launching (the HTML’s still wet) a partnership with Working Assets I am completely excited about.” Working Assets is a San Francisco advocacy organization, dating from 1985, which bills itself as “one of the most powerful progressive citizen-action groups in the nation.” It operates “donation-linked services” now including long distance, wireless, and credit cards. “Every call you make,” claims their slogan, “builds a better world.”
Working Assets claims to have generated more than $47 million for “progressive” nonprofits such as the ACLU, Greenpeace, Human Rights Watch, Oxfam America, People for the American Way, Planned Parenthood, and the Rainforest Action Network, among many others. In 2004 alone, the groups says, it generated more than four million letters and e-mails to Congress, the White House, and corporate leaders on issues of critical public concern.
The “Creative Producer” of Working Assets is Becky Bond, formerly online editor of San Francisco Weekly who has made public appearances with groups such as Together We Can Defeat Capitalism. Bond hosts the web radio program Fast Forward and is the force behind such Working Assets new-media properties as workingforchange.com, radioforchange.com, and actforchange.com. She uses streaming technologies, as she has explained, “to radicalize the hipoisie.” Bond deals with the media for LMCA, as does Felicity Crush, a former Greenpeace activist from Stinson Beach.
Another anti-recruitment player with Leave My Child Alone is Josh Sonnenfend, an upcoming Sixties’ reenactor from Santa Cruz, California. Sonnenfeld was a panelist discussing the No Child Left Behind Act at a 2003 conference of the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors, based in Oakland and Philadelphia. At a 2004 “training the trainers” conference of the National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth (NNOMY), Sonnenfeld conducted powerpoint presentations of “Counter Recruitment 101.”
The Coalition Against Militarism in Our Schools acknowledges “Working Assets staff members Josh Sonnenfeld, Beck Bond and Catherine Geanuracos” in the production of a “Guide,” along with Carol Smith of the National Lawyer’s Guild and legal consultants from the ACLU. Sonnenfeld has also organized demonstrators on high-school campuses, leading them in the chant, “Racist, Sexist, Anti-Gay. Hey, recruiters, go away.”
Leave My Child Alone is strong in the Bay Area, but its “opt-out” parties are hardly limited to leftist enclaves such as San Francisco. Felicity Crush claims that these events, more than 300 of them, have been held in all 50 states. The LMCA website has purportedly been used 37,000 times as a guide for opting-out-of-recruitment lists. But Crush becomes mute when asked about financial or budgetary information for Leave My Child Alone.
Nationally, LMCA relies on a volunteer network and groups such as Wake-Up Ohio, which was formed to back Democratic candidates and now handles the state effort for Leave My Child Alone. In July 2005, the Ohio group ran radio ads coinciding with anniversary of the first peacetime military draft, the Selective Service Act of 1940. For further details, the ad directed listeners to the www.wake-upohio.com website.
Besides MMOB and Working Assets, Leave My Child Alone forms an interlocking directorate with the Association of Community Actions for Reform Now (ACORN), the radical conglomerate founded by Students for a Democratic Society veteran Wade Rathke. ACORN boasts 175,000 dues-paying member families and more than 850 chapters in 70 US cities. ACORN works through front groups such as Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice, Project Vote, and the Working Families Party. ACORN also holds ties with organized labor and is noted for its thuggery against rival leftwing groups.
Leave My Child Alone enjoys support from such “co-sponsors” as American Friends Service Committee, Coalition Against Militarism in our Schools, Code Pink, the Ella Baker Center, Latinos for America, MilitaryFreeZone.org, Peace Action, Sojourners, Student Peace Action, True Majority, Veterans for Peace, WiLL: Women’s Legislative Lobby, and Women’s Action for New Directions.
Sojourners, under the leadership of Jim Wallis, signals support from the religious left. The National Education Association also endorses Leave My Child Alone, and, as a sign of how completely the educational world has been radicalized, so do the national PTA and the California Teachers Association.
Leave My Child Alone claims to be in the service of privacy, but the only issue on which the group wants parental involvement is military recruitment. By contrast, LMCA is not troubled by covert acts of sabotage against the family committed by schools – acts such as doping students with Ritalin or spiriting a child off campus for an abortion without parental consent.
LMCA’s goal is to flip the current system so that students have to “opt in” to hear recruiters. Many already have. At Deer Valley High School in Antioch, California, senior Erin Freeman laughed off an anti-war rally and volunteered for the Army National Guard.
“I went to the recruiter at the mall; he didn’t come here,” she told reporters. “I felt a duty to serve my country. People sometimes forget that we were attacked on September 11.”
This profile originally appeared as an article titled “Leave My Child Alone,” written by Lloyd Billingsley and published by FrontPageMagazine.com on December 2, 2005.