A listening post monitoring public education and teachers’ unions.

Who’s Behind Alabama’s Anti-Charter Ads? Who Else?

Written By: Mike Antonucci   – Feb• 28•12

Alabama is one of the few remaining states without a charter school law, although it appears there is growing sentiment in the legislature to pass one this session. So, from out of the ether came SOAR (Sound Options for Academic Reform) to run television ads against the idea.

The Mobile Press-Register naturally wondered who these guys were and where their funding was coming from. But reporter Rena Havner Phillips had a problem. The phone number on the group’s mailer was incorrect, SOAR didn’t answer her e-mails, the only other contact info was a PO box, and not a single human being is identified on the SOAR web site.

Digging further, Havner Phillips learned that advertising time had been purchased at the local TV station by none other than the Alabama Education Association, but when she asked the local AEA UniServ director about it, he replied, ”If it is us, I don’t know about it.

Well, it turns out it was “us.”

Havner Phillips has a follow-up story today in which AEA confesses to being “an initial sponsor” of SOAR, but denies creating the group.

“It would be factually incorrect to attribute SOAR to any single source,” said previously unidentified SOAR spokesman Taylor Bright. “Too many have been involved in the conversations.”

SOAR is currently under no obligation to name these legions of people, but it is difficult to believe Bright’s claim that SOAR is a “grassroots” entity when no one knows who’s involved, it doesn’t reveal its physical location, and apparently doesn’t have a phone number.

Nevertheless, SOAR has managed to attract 4,782 Twitter followers in a month, which is very impressive until you start examining the list. My estimate is that approximately 4,775 of the followers are bogus.

I’ll keep looking into this. I suspect we have another Communities for Quality Education on our hands.


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