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More on ALEC from Wisconsin to Florida, Legislation and Education

Due to the wide-spread interest in ALEC based on the responses from yesterday’s post, I am going back through the archives and bringing up some of the “best” of ALEC which seems to bring out some of the worst in our legislators.

By the way, Kraft just dropped ALEC, see Kraft Foods Joins Coca-Cola and Pepsi in Leaving Corporate Front Group ALEC. Now it’s time for our legislators to do the same.

In a previous post titled ALEC Exposed in Wisconsin I wrote:

Wisconsin Representative Mark Pocan  explains in a brilliant speech how ALEC is working to eliminate public education in the state of Wisconsin specifically in a bill regarding vouchers and special education funding that’s right out of the ALEC playbook almost word for word.

This is from the Assembly floor session on March 13th 2012.

And in Florida from the Young Turks:

Florida state Rep. Rachel Burgin (R) proposed a resolution with the goal of cutting federal corporate taxes but she accidentally left in a portion written by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a group primarily funded by large corporations. The Young Turks host Cenk Uygur breaks it down.

There is a great piece that Julie Underwood and Julie Mead published in February of this year titled A Smart ALEC Threatens Public Education. Here is an excerpt:

A legislative contagion seemed to sweep across the Midwest during the early months of 2011. First, Wisconsin legislators wanted to strip public employees of the right to bargain. Then, Indiana legislators got into the act. Then, it was Ohio. In each case, Republican governors and Republican-controlled state legislatures had introduced substantially similar bills that sought sweeping changes to each state’s collective bargaining statutes and various school funding provisions.

What was going on? How could elected officials in multiple states suddenly introduce essentially the same legislation?

The answer: The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Its self-described legislative approach to education reads:

Across the country for the past two decades, education reform efforts have popped up in legislatures at different times in different places. As a result, teachers’ unions have been playing something akin to “whack-a-mole”—you know the game—striking down as many education reform efforts as possible. Many times, the unions successfully “whack” the “mole,” i.e., the reform legislation. Sometimes, however, they miss. If all the moles pop up at once, there is no way the person with the mallet can get them all. Introduce comprehensive reform packages. (Ladner, LeFevre, & Lips, 2010, p. 108).

ALEC’s own “whack-a-mole” strategy also reveals the group’s ultimate goal. Every gardener who has ever had to deal with a mole knows that the animals undermine and ultimately destroy a garden. ALEC’s positions on various education issues make it clear that the organization seeks to undermine public education by systematically defunding and ultimately destroying public education as we know it.

There is also a pdf of this article that can be used as a handout for friends and family at this Google doc site.

truthout  also published a great article in February of this year titled ALEC Education “Academy” Launches on Island Resort. Here’s an excerpt:

Today, hundreds of state legislators from across the nation will head out to an “island” resort on the coast of Florida to a unique “education academy” sponsored by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). There will be no students or teachers. Instead, legislators, representatives from right-wing think tanks and for-profit education corporations will meet behind closed doors to channel their inner Milton Friedman and promote the radical transformation of the American education system into a private, for-profit enterprise.

What is ALEC Scoring on Its Education “Report Card?”

Little is known about the agenda of the ALEC education meeting taking place at the Ritz Carlton on Amelia Island. The meeting is not open to the public and recently even the press has been kicked out of meetings and barred from attendance. So to understand the ALEC agenda with regard to education, it is important to examine ALEC’s education “scorecard.”

Imagine getting a report card from your teacher and finding out that you were graded not on how well you understood the course material or scored on the tests and assignments, but rather on to what extent you agreed with your teacher’s strange public policy positions. That is the best way to understand the American Legislative Exchange Council’s 17th Report Card on American Education released last week.

The report card’s authors are Matthew Lardner, formerly of the Goldwater Institute, and Dan Lips, currently of the Goldwater Institute and formerly of the Heritage Foundation. They give every state’s public schools an overall grade based on how they rate in 14 categories. Homeschooling, alternative teacher certification, charter schools, private school choice, and virtual learning make up 7 of the 14 categories. Of the other seven categories, two rate the states’ academic standards and the other five have mostly to do with the way states retain “effective” teachers and fire “ineffective” ones.

ALEC’s education bills encompass more than 20 years of effort to privatize public education through an ever-expanding network of school voucher systems, which divert taxpayer dollars away from public schools to private schools, or the creation of new private charter schools with public funds, and even with private online schools (who needs actual teachers when you can have a virtual one?). The bills also allow schools to loosen standards for teachers and administrators, exclude students with physical disabilities and special educational needs, escape the requirements of collective bargaining agreements and experiment with other pet causes like merit pay, single-sex education, school uniforms, and political and religious indoctrination of students.

States where students score well on tests but where ALEC’s legislative agenda around school choice, charters, merit pay, de-unionization and alternative certification have not yet taken hold get low grades. States where elected officials are gung-ho for ALEC’s agenda but the students are not faring so well are still graded generously.

To read the article in full, go to truthout.

The article ALEC Watch: What I did on my summer vacation is a great inside report on an ALEC meeting in New Orleans. Here’s a quick excerpt:

Governor Bobby Jindahl (R-Louisiana) opened the lunch on the first day, with a pretty good delivery of some red meat – European Socialism bad, debt worse, Obama THE worst. He also gave some pretty sage advice based on the debt negotiations nationally: “It pays to be stubborn.” Those are his words, not mine.

He basically told the gang of about 2,000 people that they win when they hold out and hold out and hold out. Just like they did in the debt ceiling fight. I wish he had delivered that speech to a big group of Congressional Democrats.

This is a highly recommended read.

By the way, the Gates Foundation is so enthralled with ALEC that they gave the organization almost $400,000 in November of 2011.

There is additional information regarding ALEC that you might find informative and interesting under the heading of “ALEC” in the right hand column of this page.


3 comments on “More on ALEC from Wisconsin to Florida, Legislation and Education

  1. Nativegrl77
    April 8, 2012

    thank you Dora … i have to reblog this

  2. Nancy Willing
    April 7, 2012

    Tweeted and facebooked – well done Dori.

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