Commonwealth Foundation to Demonstrate at Schools Protest

And what does the Pennsylvania free-market think tank plan to do with its new "PFTFails" web site?

Update: Challenging the characterization of the event as a “counter-protest,” the Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives confirmed it has hired a team to appear at the Philadelphia Federation for Teachers’ protest outside School District headquarters on Thursday.

The Commonwealth Foundation, a free-market think tank in the state, says its website will be up Thursday morning. Spokeswoman Cindy Hamill wrote the site would be “informing people about how Jerry Jordan and the PFT leadership are standing in the way of tens of millions of dollars going back into Philadelphia classrooms.” The Commonwealth Foundation also registered and earlier this week.

“Their selfish agenda fails children, fails teachers, and fails the poor,” Hamill continued. “They fail us when they put personal political scores ahead of what’s best for children, teachers and the poor.” She said the workers have not been hired to “counter-protest” but to pass out information and hold banners. “We will be there to inform, not to counter protest,” Hamill said.

ORIGINAL: A group calling itself “PFT Fails” has hired a marketing team to hire counter-protesters for Thursday’s Philadelphia Federation of Teachers protest, Philly blog The Declaration reported last night.

While there is no data at the URL, the address is registered to Nathan Benefield of the Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives, a conservative Pennsylvania free-market think tank. The site was registered on Monday.

The Commonwealth Foundation did not return a request for comment about and whether it has any connection to the counter-protester job ad.

The ad is searching for “2 team leads, 10 brand ambassadors and 2 back-ups.” You get paid $120 if you’re a team leader, $100 to be a brand ambassador and $40 to be a backup. The protesters will be given fliers and banners to counter the “Turn Up for Truth” protest outside School District headquarters this Thursday.

Billy Penn reports the offer was first emailed by GoGorilla, a high-profile New York City advertising agency that specializes in guerrilla marketing.

The Commonwealth Foundation’s Benefield has written anti teachers’ union columns before. The foundation has run several anti-teachers’ union blog posts in the last few weeks, including one headlined “Unions Leaders Put Politics Before Health Care.”

The teachers’ protest is set for 4:30 p.m. on Thursday in front of the School District offices at 440 North Broad Street. The counter-protesters have to work from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Not a bad hourly rate for a “brand ambassador.”