ALEC Charter Schools Corporate Reformers Education Reform Privatization Vouchers

Watch Out for ALEC Legislation in Your State!

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“Cashing in On Kids” reports that ALEC education legislation is quietly spreading across the nation. ALEC is the American Legislative Exchange Council, a secretive far-right organization that is funded by major corporations and whose members are state legislators. Its goal is privatization and deregulation. It writes model laws, then its members introduce them into their state legislature as their own. To learn all about ALEC, go to Alec Exposed.

 

Despite widespread public opposition to the corporate-driven education privatization agenda, at least 172 measures reflecting American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) model bills were introduced in 42 states in 2015, according to an analysis by the Center for Media and Democracy, publishers of ALECexposed.org and PRWatch.org. (A PDF version of this report may be downloaded here.)

 

One of ALEC’s biggest funders is Koch Industries and the Koch brothers’ fortune. The Kochs have had a seat at the table – where the private sector votes as equals with legislators – on ALEC’s education task force via their “grassroots” group Americans for Prosperity and their Freedom Partners group, which was described as the Kochs’ “secret bank.”

 

The Kochs also have a voice on ALEC’s Education Task Force through multiple state-based think tanks of the State Policy Network, ALEC’s sister organization, which is funded by many of the same corporations and foundations and donor entities.

 

ALEC’s Education Task Force is also funded by the billionaire DeVos family, which bankrolls a privatization operation called “American Federation of Children,” and by for-profit corporations like K12 Inc., which was founded by junk-bond king Michael Milliken.

 

ALEC’s education task force has pushed legislation for decades to privatize public schools, weaken teacher’s unions, and lower teaching standards.

 

ALEC’s agenda would transform public education from a public and accountable institution that serves the public into one that serves private, for-profit interests. ALEC model bills divert taxpayer money from public to private schools through a variety of “voucher” and “tuition tax credit” programs. They promote unaccountable charter schools and shift power away from democratically elected local school boards….

 

Although ALEC and other school privatizers today frame “vouchers” – taxpayer-funded tuition for private, and often religious, schools – in terms of “opportunity” for low-income students and giving parents the “choice” to send their children to public or private schools, the group was less judicious in its earlier years.

 

The commentary to ALEC’s original 1984 voucher bill states that its purpose is “to introduce normal market forces” into education, and to “dismantle the control and power of” teachers’ unions by directing money from public institutions to private ones that were less likely to be unionized.

 

Friedman was more explicit when addressing ALEC’s 2006 meeting. He explained that vouchers are really a step towards “abolishing the public school system.”

 

“How do we get from where we are to where we want to be?” Friedman asked the ALEC crowd.

 

“Of course, the ideal way would be to abolish the public school system and eliminate all the taxes that pay for it. Then parents would have enough money to pay for private schools, but you’re not gonna do that.”

 

Of course, in order to believe in the idea of “opportunity scholarships” to “save poor kids from failing schools,” you have to believe that the big corporations and the billionaires are civil rights crusaders for the poor and needy. My imagination is not big enough to do that.

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