A new challenge to the Educators 4 Excellence group comes from an unlikely source: a school administrator who says he agrees with many of the group’s positions.

In a new post in our Community section, John Galvin, the assistant principal at I.S. 318 in Brooklyn, targets the group’s requirement that people who attend certain E4E events sign the group’s “Declaration of Principles and Beliefs.” Galvin writes:

If you want to sponsor events that are closed to the public and only open to your members, that is your right. However, if you want to engage the public in debate and to test your ideas to the widest audience possible, then it makes no sense. It raises questions about the motives of your group and the commitment of your group to engage in honest debate with those that agree and disagree with you.

Galvin describes attempting to sign up to attend the group’s panel last week on teacher evaluation, and then being disappointed to find out that, in order to RSVP, he had to click a button indicating that he signed on to the declaration. (Many of our commenters logged similar complaints.)

In an e-mail, Educators 4 Excellence founder Sydney Morris explained that teachers become members of the group by signing the statement. She defended the group’s right to hold private members-only meetings.

Her full statement:

E4E is, and has always been, a membership organization and some of our events are for members only. A teacher can become a member by signing our Declaration of Principles and Beliefs, which we believe unites teachers with many perspectives around a common starting point for a dialogue. In order to provide a conversational atmosphere at our events and ensure that as many voices as possible are heard, we sometimes have to limit the numbers of attendees we have and we offer those seats as a benefit to our members. As I’m sure you noticed, this particular event was standing room only.