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A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

The following is an excerpt from our Saturday email, which includes our musings on the latest developments impacting public employees, links to that week’s labor news, and a collection of whimsical reads for your weekend. If you’d like to receive our weekly email, you can use the sign-up form at the bottom of this page. We promise to respect your inbox, and we will never share your email address.

Earlier this week, my colleague Brigette Herbst made a disturbing revelation. A progressive teachers union was impersonating Texas-based pastors on Twitter in an effort to drum up support for the union’s political work.

Here is her experience.

I have to admit that I am among the 72% of Americans that don’t trust the media. This does make it challenging to know what is going on in the world. Where does one get their news if not from the mainstream media? Twitter, of course!

I’m only half joking and will confess that I do spend time everyday scrolling Twitter looking for “news.” But as we’ve learned from Elon, not everything on Twitter can be trusted.

This truism was highlighted for me this week when I stumbled on a Twitter account called Pastors for Children. While this account initially directed me to a group based in Texas, there appear to be other chapters around the country.

The “Who We Are” section on the group’s website says, “Pastors for Texas Children is a ministry that serves Texas’ neighborhood public schools through prayer, service, and advocacy. We support our schools by initiating school assistance programs with local congregations, promoting social justice for children, and advancing legislation that puts the needs of Texas children, families, and communities first.”

This is just what children and many public-school teachers need— community advocates for education and legislation that puts the students first with a nod towards their own faith. I hear from teachers every day that have left the teachers union because they felt the things being pushed by the union are a compromise to their faith. 

I wanted to find out more and to see how I could help with their mission, so I did some research.  Unfortunately, what I found was not good.  While their mission was full of words about children and quality of education, their actual advocacy seemed more focused on advocating against school choice and charter schools. That seemed odd for a faith-based organization. 

As it turns out, Pastors for Children should be renamed Pastors for AFT. As the Capital Research Center found out, “The evidence suggests that Pastors for Texas Children is beholden to special interests and would better be called “Pastors for Texas Teachers Unions.” The organization has taken at least $25,000 in funding from the American Federation of Teachers, but that may not be all. The group put on a “virtual fundraiser” in October 2020 headlined by Diane Ravitch, a onetime school reformer who “now toes the teachers union line.”

Lesson learned, and why I’m glad I always do my own research.  Remember when you’re scrolling social media to ask questions and take a deep dive into any person or organization you might want to support.  Things aren’t always what they seem.

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Elisabeth Messenger

Elisabeth Messenger is CEO of Americans for Fair Treatment, a community of current and former public-sector workers offering resources and support to exercise their First Amendment rights. Prior to joining Americans for Fair Treatment in 2020, Elisabeth was in the publicity department at Atlantic Records in Los Angeles, CA. From there, she learned how to build organizations that would impact culture through positions in operations and business development at Universal Music Group, VEVO, and Beats Music.