Any disgruntled citizen can hurl insults during a school board meeting or launch a NIMBY crusade. Rita Solnet is the rare activist with powerful allies inside and outside government. Her diligently researched arguments prompt policy changes with far-reaching implications throughout the state. The Boca Raton mom helped found the national, nonpartisan group Parents Across America, which rails against privatization and high-stakes testing in schools. This year, she helped prevent a for-profit company with a dismal track record, Mavericks in Education, from opening three new charter schools in Palm Beach County. Then she took the fight to Tallahassee, successfully protesting a "parent empowerment" bill that would have allowed public schools to be converted to charters. Solnet saw the measure as an attempt to privatize schools and drive a wedge between parents and school administrators. "This bill no more empowers me than it does the gecko on my patio from taking over my home," Solnet wrote in a letter protesting the bill. Try arguing with that.