Earlier this year, there was a big push to get charter legislation passed in Alabama. It failed. One of the pronents for charter legislation was StudentsFirst, which sent in an organizer from Florida to build support. She said that StudentsFirst has 17,000 members in the state, but when SF called a meeting in Montgomery, only 25 people showed up, some about half were anti-charter. A writer from Alabama sends this account:
So here is the deal with StudentsFirst. I can become a member by going toChange.org
and signing a petition that says nothing about this organization and if I write favorable comments about “pro reform” then someone with StudentsFirst may even send me a gift card to my favorite restaurant.
And how do I know all of this? Because a good friend signed a petition at Change.org
and soon got an email from StudentsFirst welcoming her as a member. And because I’ve met the field rep from Florida who is offering the chance at a free meal.
The Alabama Legislature went through a vigorous battle about whether or not to allow charters schools last spring and the lady in question was one of six lobbyists StudentsFirst registered with the Ethics Commission to support this bill.
I well remember the day I went to a brown bag luncheon at a local church to learn more about StudentsFirst. At least that’s what I thought I was doing, but actually, I was instead encouraged to write letters, visit legislators and do whatever I could to pass the bill. The free lunch lady referred to above ran the meeting.
She was nice, but hardly a warm person. Said she lived in Florida where she taught school for eight years. There were maybe 20-25 folks at the gathering. She told us StudentsFirst had 17,000 Alabama members. I wondered why none of them bothered to show up since at least half of the crowd did not seem to favor charters.
I’m on the state advisory board of a pre-K program. The state director of this organization was also at the meeting and at one point distributed copies of an article detailing info about the Gulen Charter movement.
The lady from Florida did not appreciate this and quickly said this was just a scare tactic and that my friend should not be a bigot.
Well, being Alabama born and raised, I can probably spot a bigot about as well as the next guy. And the one Ms. StudentsFirst accused of such ain’t one in no form or fashion. You don’t work with high-poverty families for 20 years in this state if you are.
So I find it quite interesting that the lady who did the accusing that day in the church dining hall is now saying that her character is under attack because someone forwarded one of her emails!!!!
One other thing I remember from that meeting was that the lady told us StudentsFirst was in Alabama because the Governor and the Legislature invited them. A few days later the Gorvernor’s chief of staff told me that the Governor DID NOT invite them.
I’ve never owned a new car in my life. Which means I always buy used ones. But I can gurantee you that if StudentsFirst was in the used car business, I would never been one of their customers.
Oh. The charter bill failed and the Governor recently said he will not push this legislation next year.