American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)

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ALEC is too big topic to deal with here.  However, this link to ALECExposed has everything.

Here is a very important 2.5 minute video of Julie Underwood, dean of the UW-Madison School of Education.  In describing the national effort, of which ALEC is a part, to privatize public education, she is describing our New Hampshire experience precisely.  Amazing, really.

Here is the ALEC exposed page that gathers all the education materials.

The New Hampshire attack on public education follows the ALEC playbook but the bills themselves, HB 1607 and SB 372, are based on voucher proposals from several directions including ALEC.  This page has a list of ALEC education bills.  Here are some of special interest to us:


Here is ALEC's dopey "Report Card" on American Education.  It makes clear that the goal is to privatize Ameican education, a la Milton Friedman.


"You are cordially invited to attend ALEC's K-12 Education Reform Academy, February 3-4, 2012 at the Ritz-Carlton in Amelia Island, Florida. For invited legislators like you, ALEC will cover your room for up to two nights at the host hotel. ALEC will also reimburse up to $500 for travel expenses, which includes coach airfare, cabfare, and a reimbursement of 55.5 cents per mile driven."
"This event will address the top reforms in K-12 education that ALEC believes each state must have to ensure the successful and productive education for all American students. We will discuss what you as a state legislator can do to address a variety of issues surrounding K-12 education reform, including charter schools accessibility, accountability and transparency, standards for teacher excellence, open enrollment, vouchers, tax credits, and blended learning options."

The  ALEC invitation to state legislators to come and learn about voucher programs like the one proposed for New Hampshire 

Here is an EdWeek post called, "ALEC Reports on the War on Teachers" that talks about the report and its role in moving accountability from the level of the school to the level of the teacher.

Here is a very useful report on their recent education conference in Florida.

ALEC no friend of New Hampshire, Letter to Nashua Telegraph, 5/10/12

posted May 10, 2012, 4:55 AM by Bill Duncan

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House Speaker William O’Brien‘s recent letter defending the American Legislative Exchange Council is disturbing. (April 18: “ALEC latest target of smear campaign”)

As a Nashua teacher and public employee of the city of Nashua, I found this Statehouse session demonstrated an extremist corporate-driven agenda.

Tea party representatives attacked teachers, firefighters, state employees and other labor organizations with right-to-work legislation. Over and over, even as the bill was rejected, it kept coming back with different wording.

O’Brien charges that ALEC is a “victim” of an intimidation campaign by political and financial opportunists. As public awareness increases about ALEC, residents can decide for themselves if ALEC lobbyists represent what is right for New Hampshire.

There is a consumer-driven effort to hold corporations like McDonald’s and Coca-Cola accountable when they financially support ALEC laws such as stand-your-ground. ALEC is also responsible for anti-labor and anti-education legislation that attempts to weaken our strong public education system and our supportive labor unions.

O’Brien cites “outsider activists and opportunists” exposing ALEC as objectionable and undesirable.

He fails to recognize the connection between public interest groups and individual New Hampshire residents who say enough is enough with extremist legislation.

Right-to-work, stand-your-ground and other extremist bills are only representative of corporative-driven interests. Hardworking New Hampshire residents deserve more, not less.

Marianne O’Connor

Nashua

Controversial Policy Group Casts Long K-12 Shadow, Ed Week, 4/2012

posted Apr 20, 2012, 7:30 PM by Bill Duncan

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By Andrew Ujifusa 


In nearly 40 years of legislative advocacy, the American Legislative Exchange Council—a free-market, limited-government group now drawing intense scrutiny for its support of a controversial self-defense law—has had a significant influence in K-12 education through its model legislation and work with state lawmakers to promote such policies as private school vouchers and “parent trigger” laws.

“Education is one of the most important issues that we deal with in ALEC. ... We’ve been very busy in that field,” said Indiana state Rep. David Frizzell, a Republican and the national chairman of the Washington-based group, which boasts some 2,000 state legislator members and nearly 300 corporate and nonprofit financial supporters.

Now, liberal-leaning groups and other opponents see a chance to trim its influence. Their opening: ALEC’s role in promoting “Stand Your Ground” laws on self-defense, the center of debate after a Florida teenager’s shooting death.

ALEC opponents argue that in education and other areas, the group undermines states’ democratic process by letting corporate lobbyists vote on model legislation through vacation-type conferences attended by lawmakers who then use that legislation to shape their own bills.

“The ALEC method, or the ALEC game plan, literally turns these legislators into super-lobbyists,” said Doug Clopp, the deputy director of programs for Common Cause, a Washington-based advocacy group for open government.

The reality is far different, according to Adam Peshek, the director of ALEC’s education task force. He said a large part of ALEC’s role is to be a policy clearinghouse, channeling ideas from a particular state or individual to other states, in legislative form. The group says close to 1,000 bills each year based at least in part on its model legislation are introduced in statehouses, and that an average of about 20 percent become law.

“We’re pretty good at getting stuff on the cusp of when they’re new and innovative ideas,” said Mr. Peshek.

At the same time, ALEC officials argue it is just one policy group attempting to promote education policies that are especially popular in conservative and free-market circles.

..............more at the Link

The Big Money Behind State Laws, NYT Editorial, 2/13/12

posted Feb 13, 2012, 5:53 AM by Bill Duncan

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EDITORIAL

The Big Money Behind State Laws


Published: February 13, 2012

It is no coincidence that so many state legislatures have spent the last year taking the same destructive actions: making it harder for minorities and other groups that support Democrats to vote, obstructing health care reform, weakening environmental regulations and breaking the spines of public- and private-sector unions. All of these efforts are being backed - in some cases, orchestrated - by a little-known conservative organization financed by millions of corporate dollars.

The American Legislative Exchange Council was founded in 1973 by the right-wing activist Paul Weyrich; its big funders include Exxon Mobil, the Olin and Scaife families and foundations tied to Koch Industries. Many of the largest corporations are represented on its board.

ALEC has written model legislation on a host of subjects dear to corporate and conservative interests, and supporting lawmakers have introduced these bills in dozens of states. A recent study of the group's impact in Virginia showed that more than 50 of its bills were introduced there, many practically word for word. The study, by the liberal group ProgressVA, found that ALEC had been involved in writing bills that would:

.....

¶Encourage school districts to contract with private virtual-education companies. (One such company was the corporate co-chair of ALEC's education committee.) The bill was signed into law.

¶Call for a federal constitutional amendment to permit the repeal of any federal law on a two-thirds vote of state legislatures. The bill failed.

¶Legalize use of deadly force in defending one's home. Bills to this effect, which recently passed both houses, have been backed by the National Rifle Association, a longtime member of ALEC.


ALEC Exposed: Starving Public Schools, Julie Underwood, The Nation, 7/12/11

posted Feb 11, 2012, 5:23 PM by Bill Duncan

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Published on The Nation (http://www.thenation.com)


ALEC Exposed: Starving Public Schools
Julie Underwood | July 12, 2011


This article is part of a Nation series exposing the American Legislative Exchange Council, in collaboration with the Center For Media and Democracy. John Nichols introduces [1] the series.

Public schools,” ALEC wrote in its 1985 Education Source Book, “meet all of the needs of all of the people without pleasing anyone.” A better system, the organization argued, would “foster educational freedom and quality” through various forms of privatization: vouchers, tax incentives for sending children to private schools and unregulated private charter schools. Today ALEC calls this “choice”—and vouchers “scholarships”—but it amounts to an ideological mission to defund and redesign public schools.

The first large-scale voucher program, the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, was enacted in 1990 following the rubric ALEC provided in 1985. It was championed by then-Governor Tommy Thompson, an early ALEC member, who once said he “loved” ALEC meetings, “because I always found new ideas, and then I’d take them back to Wisconsin, disguise them a little bit, and declare [they were] mine.”

ALEC’s most ambitious and strategic push toward privatizing education came in 2007, through a publication called School Choice and State Constitutions, which proposed a list of programs tailored to each state. That year Georgia passed a version of ALEC’s Special Needs Scholarship Program Act. Most disability organizations strongly oppose special education vouchers—and decades of evidence suggest that such students are better off receiving additional support in public schools. Nonetheless, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Florida, Utah and Indiana have passed versions of their own. Louisiana also passed a version of ALEC’s Parental Choice Scholarship Program Act (renaming it Student Scholarships for Educational Excellence), along with ALEC’s Family Education Tax Credit Program (renamed Tax Deductions for Tuition), which has also been passed by Arizona and Indiana. ALEC’s so-called Great Schools Tax Credit Program Act has been passed by Arizona, Indiana and Oklahoma. [DNHPE Comment: These are all the programs that New Hampshire voucher advocates refer to as models.]

ALEC’s 2010 Report Card on American Education called on members and allies to “Transform the system, don’t tweak it,” likening the group’s current legislative strategy to a game of whack-a-mole: introduce so many pieces of model legislation that there is “no way the person with the mallet [teachers’ unions] can get them all.” ALEC’s agenda includes:

§ Introducing market factors into teaching, through bills like the National Teacher Certification Fairness Act.

§ Privatizing education through vouchers, charters and tax incentives, especially through the Parental Choice Scholarship Program Act and Special Needs Scholarship Program Act, whose many spinoffs encourage the creation of private schools for specific populations: children with autism, children in military families, etc.

§ Increasing student testing and reporting, through more “accountability,” as seen in the Education Accountability Act, Longitudinal Student Growth Act, One-to-One Reading Improvement Act and the Resolution Supporting the Principles of No Child Left Behind.

§ Chipping away at local school districts and school boards, through its 2009 Innovation Schools and School Districts Act and more. Proposals like the Public School Financial Transparency Act and School Board Freedom to Contract Act would allow school districts to outsource auxiliary services.

ALEC is also invested in influencing the educational curriculum. Its 2010 Founding Principles Act would require high school students to take “a semester-long course on the philosophical understandings and the founders’ principles.”

Perhaps the Brookings Institute states the mission most clearly: “Taken seriously, choice is not a system-preserving reform. It is a revolutionary reform that introduces a new system of public education.”

ALEC’s real motivation for dismantling the public education system is ideological—creating a system where schools do not provide for everyone—and profit-driven. The corporate members on its education task force include the Friedman Foundation, Goldwater Institute, Washington Policy Center, National Association of Charter School Authorizers and corporations providing education services, such as Sylvan Learning and the Connections Academy.

From Milton Friedman on, proponents of vouchers have argued that they foster competition and improve students’ learning. But years of research reveal this to be false. Today, students in Milwaukee’s public schools perform as well as or better than those in voucher schools. This is true even though voucher schools have advantages that in theory should make it easier to educate children: fewer students with disabilities; broader rights to select, reject and expel students; and parents who are engaged in their children’s education (at least enough to have actively moved them to the private system). Voucher schools clearly should outperform public schools, but they do not. Nor are they less expensive; often private costs are shifted to taxpayers; a local school district typically pays for transportation, additional education services and administrative expenses. In programs like Milwaukee’s, the actual cost drains funds from the public schools and creates additional charges to taxpayers.

But a deeper crisis emerges when we privatize education. As Benjamin Barber has argued, “public schools are not merely schools for the public, but schools of publicness: institutions where we learn what it means to be a public and start down the road toward common national and civic identity.” What happens to our democracy when we return to an educational system whose access is defined by corporate interests and divided by class, language, ability, race and religion? In a push to free-market education, who pays in the end?

Dean Julie Underwood, UW-Madison School of Education on the national strategy to privatize public education

posted Feb 11, 2012, 3:09 PM by Bill Duncan   [ updated Feb 11, 2012, 4:49 PM ]


Dean Underwood is will worth watching but the interview is summarized below.

Dean Julie Underwood, UW-Madison School of Education discusses national strategy to privatize public education




Dean Underwood starts off by saying, 

"...what you see [in the archive of ALEC bills on the ALECexposed web it] is an early interest in the privatization of education.  There are lots and lots of bills that talk about various ways to privatize or defund, dismantle the public schools.  You have bills that are about charter schools, vouchers, tuition tax credits, deductions, those kinds of things that actually all put together are just a push to privatize education."

What the impact of this?

"What you end up with is isolation for students.  You end up public schools that are poorly, poorly funded.  And the students that are left in those public schools are the students who are very difficult to educate, children who have educational challenges and what you fund are other children going out into the private system, who are easier to educate, who have families who are literate, and you end up with a two tier system of education, a re-segregated system of education."

What is their implementation strategy?

"They're looking at introducing market factors, as they say, into teacher compensation and teacher certification....The second one is the continuation of any kind of privatization and vouchers.  The third one is increasing testing [like No Child Left Behind].  And then the fourth one is continuing to chip away at the ability and the powers of local school districts and local school boards.

"They do have an interesting legislative strategy....They say that in these four areas you need to introduce a lot of bills.  You need to introduce the entire array of them all at the same time.  They analogize to a game of whack-a-mole, so you can actually introduce all sorts of bill and they say that if you do that, then the education proponents won't be able to kill them all at one time."

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