When news broke that the American Federation of Teachers is targeting Michelle Rhee’s education reform group, StudentsFirst, through a website, it was less than surprising.
It wasn’t that long ago that Education Action Group found its own cyber stalker site, a union-organized publication with the ironic title EAG Truth. Virtually every sentence on the website is filled with inaccuracies, distortions or misinformation aimed at discrediting our successful non-profit.
In the education reform world, it’s like a badge of honor if the teachers unions hate what you have to say and devote resources to counter your message online. It usually means that the ‘students first, union concerns second’ message is resonating with the public. That’s bad for union business.
The fact that Politico tracked the address of the AFT’s anti-Rhee website back to the union isn’t surprising. Neither is the personal attacks and doctored photos posted on the site. We’ve seen them before, and they aren’t pretty.
When StudentsFirst revealed that the site originated at AFT headquarters, the union barked back in typical fashion, questioning the funding of StudentsFirst. It’s the same response we’ve seen from other unions when we questioned their motives.
The tacky union websites, however, are a perfect example of why virtually all education non-profits keep their donor lists private: to avoid the ruthless tactics employed by Big Labor to silence those they oppose.
The anti-Rhee website is a clear sign that StudentsFirst is making headway in the education reform movement, and should be commended by students and taxpayers for their hard work. It’s no secret that union demands are often at odds with student needs, and many groups, including EAG and StudentsFirst, are working to ensure that public schools exist to educate students, not to provide union perks.
That’s a tough pill to swallow for teachers unions that have dominated the educational debate for decades. The AFT’s anti-Rhee website is only the latest sign that they will stoop to the lowest level to preserve the failed status quo.