AlterNet reports that StudentsFirst has found a new project. It is seeking people willing to flood social media with anti-union, anti-public school, “reform” views.
The new group is called “The Truth Campaign for Teachers.” The email that landed on AlterNet’s doorstep is targeted on New Mexico, but the writer assumes that other states may have the same campaign.
Here’s a copy of the email we received from a source who says it appeared over the summer:
The Truth Campaign for Teachers (TCT) is looking for:
·3-5 New Mexicans who are willing to blog at least twice/week on a variety of pro-reform issues
·3-5 New Mexicans who are willing to comment on/promote content on social media
Ideal candidate is passionate about education reform and is willing to be vocal about issues like the ones StudentsFirst supports.
·TCT would supply them with:
-Daily emails with suggested content and they would choose which topics to write on
-Before posts are final, a TCT write will provide feedback on post to form a compelling blog post
-(Help set up blog if person does not have one yet)
·Prefer that individual is willing to be named but we can work with anonymous bloggers as well
·Trying to get as many volunteers as possible
Politico had more on this new astroturf group, which is off to a slow start:
SEEDING THE FIELD: Eager to amplify voices in support of education reform, StudentsFirst has backed an initiative to nurture – and compensate – a new crop of online activists. The organization, founded by former D.C. Chancellor Michelle Rhee, has been providing staff support and fundraising help to the Truth Campaign [http://bit.ly/19xK15c ], which publishes a blog highly critical of teachers unions. The Truth Campaign, in turn, urges supporters to get active promoting ed reform on social media. When they do, they can earn money from the campaign, though Recruitment Manager Drew Hazouri won’t say how much. He won’t say, either, where the group gets its funding – only that StudentsFirst has been supportive. “Our mission is to create voices,” Hazouri said. “We’re creating a community.”
– So far, Hazouri said he’s launched at least 10 online activists. None appears to have caught fire on social media – at least, not yet. Jonathan Piliser, a former Teach for America corps member, has posted thousands of tweets but has just 78 followers. Maggie Paynich, an Atlanta real estate agent, launched her blog [http://bit.ly/1CIgLUI] with a flurry of posts but only had time for one so far in April. Still, the activists say they believe they’re making a difference. Piliser said he’s getting “several thousand hits a week” on his blog [ http://bit.ly/1afbWI0%5D, which in recent weeks has advocated for merit pay and in favor of the PARCC exams. No one tells him what to write, he said: “It’s my voice.” As for the stipend, neither Piliser or Paynich would discuss it, except to say that it’s not a full-time salary. “When I become important enough to have my salary posted publicly,” Paynich said, “then I guess you’ll know how much I make.”