Home > Uncategorized > No Surprise: ALEC’s Report Card Aligns With Betsy DeVos’ Agenda… Big Surprise: Too Few People are Aware of ALEC’s Force

No Surprise: ALEC’s Report Card Aligns With Betsy DeVos’ Agenda… Big Surprise: Too Few People are Aware of ALEC’s Force

Nearly two years ago I heard Bernie Sanders speak to a small gathering at Dartmouth College. At the conclusion of the talk, I remember commenting to my wife that I thought he spent too much time explaining the power of the Koch brothers to his audience, to the point where I sensed a degree of restlessness in the audience. But when i shared that idea with others I knew I was surprised to find that few of the otherwise well-read people I know were aware of the Koch brothers… and a politically savvy individual I knew expressed dismay that the general public was unaware of their impact.

I trust that after two years of Bernie Sanders’ speeches and appearances on national television all but the Trump loyalists (and perhaps hardcore Fox News fans) are aware of the billions the Koch brothers and their allies spend. But I am not certain that the public is as aware of one of the Koch brothers’ biggest beneficiaries and most insidious lobbying groups in our country, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). While I know I have written often about this group, I am also painfully aware that most people in this country are unaware of the group and, after hearing of them, might dismiss any alarm about them as conspiratorial.

Washington Post education writer, Valerie Strauss, did a good job of shedding light on ALEC earlier this month and makes a compelling case that they are having a powerful effect on public education policy. ALEC, like many lobbying groups, issues an annual “Report Card” ranking various national and state legislators. And like many lobbying groups, ALEC also offers legislators sample bills to submit. But unlike most lobbying groups, ALEC’s legislative agenda is broader in scope and supported with billions of dollars in potential campaign donations. As Ms. Strauss writes to those unfamiliar with ALEC:

If you don’t know about ALEC, you should. It is a member organization of corporate lobbyists and conservative state legislators who craft “model legislation” on issues important to them and then help shepherd it through legislatures. It describes itself as being dedicated to promoting “limited government, free markets and federalism,” though the New York Times called it essentially a “stealth business lobbyist.”

And with 35 Statehouses and a majority of State legislatures under the control of the GOP, and with most of the legislatures led by citizens as opposed to “professional politicians”, what could be a better use of political action funds than “helping” pro-business GOP legislators craft bills that free businesses from regulations?

As noted above, ALEC issues Report Cards on many issues, public education being one of them. A review of what ALEC includes on it’s education Report Card is chilling for anyone who wants to see education funding equitable and overseen by locally elected school boards. Ms Strauss writes:

The latest report card was issued seven months ago, and it is highly revealing. The introduction says that the states were graded in six categories — “academic standards, charter schools, homeschool regulation burden, private school choice, teacher quality, and digital learning,” but it concedes that the most weight went to charters and vouchers “because they represent the parent-centered, choice-driven future of education in the 21st century.”

Once a year the ALEC legislators gather for a conference and it was no surprise to me to read that one of their guest speakers was Betsy DeVos, whose education agenda aligns perfectly with the direction ALEC’s “investors” want our country to follow.

In the concluding paragraphs of her article, Ms. Strauss illustrates the preposterousness of ALEC’s Report Card’s emphasis on charters by showing the deficiencies of ALEC’s highest rated states and the qualities of it’s lowest rated states. In effect, ALEC doesn’t care if a state turns out high percentages of graduates who attend college, has high graduation rates, or good results based on test scores. All that matters is whether the State has a “free market” for public education.

By promoting “limited government, free markets and federalism” ALEC is neglecting graduation rates, college and workforce readiness, and the well being of students. It IS, however, providing opportunities for unfettered earnings and opportunities for “edu-preneurs” and lower taxes for all businesses. Hallelujah!

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