PRATTVILLE — State Sen. Bryan Taylor, R-Prattville, today condemned a “political telemarketing scam” apparently aimed at sabotaging a bill to lift the state’s ban on public charter schools and called for swift passage of another bill that will finally prohibit false political advertising over the phone.
Opponents of school choice and Alabama’s education reform efforts appear to be engaged in a fraudulent campaign to scare educators and voters about public charter schools. Automated phone calls — also known as “robocalls” — purporting to be from the “Alabama Charter Schools Program” claim that charter schools are recruiting high-achieving students from high-achieving school districts. (Listen to the call here).
Obviously, this is a lie intended to scare parents who are happy with their child’s school, as the charter school bill pending before the Legislature would focus on low-performing school districts and ensure that public charter schools would be open to all students without regard to academic performance or special needs.
“In a fraudulent political telemarketing scam, the opponents of school choice are desperately posing as a state agency that doesn’t exist in order to sabotage a public charter school bill that, very simply, would offer more choice and greater freedom to parents with children trapped in failing schools, as well as more opportunity for those students to succeed.” Taylor said.
“Public charter schools are not the answer for every situation, but the right kind of charter school in some school districts could mean the difference between a student dropping out or going to college,” Taylor explained.
“The defenders of the failed status quo — the people who want government to continue dictating to you where your child must go to school, even if the school is failing — are obviously desperate to block these reforms at all costs. These special interests are afraid they won’t be able to stand up to the competition afforded by public charter schools. They’re afraid you might choose the competition over the failing school, so, of course, they want government to keep blocking the competition for them. That’s what this is about.
“It now appears they have turned to fraud, deceit, and scare tactics. Why? Because they know they can’t win on the merits. Nobody is against giving students every available option to succeed. They know that the only way they can convince you to oppose public charter schools is to engage in cheap political campaign tactics like fraudulent ‘robocalls,’” Taylor said.
Taylor called for swift passage of Senate Bill 11, which would outlaw fraudulent political robocalls and require the caller or recording to identify its funding source. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Greg Reed, R-Jasper, has passed the Senate and a House committee and is pending final passage in the full House. While the bill currently applies only to calls made by candidates and political action committees, Taylor said that with a minor amendment, the bill would cover calls such as the ones being made by the people behind the so-called “Alabama Charter Schools Program.”
“We’ve brought long-needed transparency to the elections process in Alabama by banning PAC-to-PAC transfers and mandating that all campaign contributions be disclosed online for all the public to see. One area we must still address is political advertising over the telephone, or so-called ‘robocalls.’ Nobody should be able to peddle lies over the telephone anonymously. If you want to run a smear campaign, you ought to at least put your name on it. This bill would require just that,” Taylor said.