A writer must “know and have an ever-present consciousness that this world is a world of fools and rogues… tormented with envy, consumed with vanity; selfish, false, cruel, cursed with illusions… He should free himself of all doctrines, theories, etiquettes, politics…” —Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?). “The nobility of the writer's occupation lies in resisting oppression, thus in accepting isolation” —Albert Camus (1913-1960). “What are you gonna do” —Bertha Brown (1895-1987).
American Legislative Exchange Council/Free Market Principles/State Policy Network = Charter Schools
Dear Diane Ravitch,
What is a local school
district's recourse of action when charter schools ignore local school board
decisions and appeal to the State Charter Commission?
That state commission is an ALEC
strategy to gut local control. Dems must dismantle it and ally with a few
Republicans who still believe in local control.
efforts to introduce model legislation aimed at defunding and dismantling
public schools is the signature work of this conservative organization.
Legislative Exchange Council
(ALEC) is a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. It describes
itself as a nonpartisan membership organization for those who share a common
belief in ‘limited government, free markets, federalism, and individual
“More than 2,000 state lawmakers pay
ALEC $100 for a two-year membership. While listed as nonpartisan, ALEC’s
members definitely skew to the conservative end of the political spectrum. For
example, of the 114 listed members of the group’s Education Task Force, 108 are
Republicans, and only six are Democrats.
“Corporations, foundations, and ‘think
tanks’ can join ALEC, too. They pay up to $25,000 in yearly dues and can spend
more to sponsor the council’s meetings. Corporate members can also donate to
each state’s scholarship fund, which reimburses legislators who travel to
meetings. The scholarships can exceed the amount of a legislator’s dues.
Corporate members also can pay from $3,000 to $10,000 for a seat on a task
“ALEC operates through nine task
forces, each co-chaired by a corporate member and a legislative member. Task
forces are divided by subject and bring together conservative policy makers
with corporate leaders to develop model legislation. In order for a proposal to
become model legislation, both the public and private sides of the committee
must agree—granting considerable power to the corporate side. Elected officials
then take the model bills back to their states to introduce them as their own.
Only legislators who are members may access the model legislation. It is a very
efficient mechanism for corporations to exercise political power—and they
“Want to know who is pulling the strings of the corporate reform movement?
Keep your eye on ALEC... This is a secretive group of about 2,000 state
legislators, major corporations and far-right think tanks. The goal of ALEC is
privatization and advancing the interests of corporations.
“ALEC drafts model laws and its members introduce them in their state,
sometimes verbatim. ALEC has models for charter schools, vouchers, online
charter schools, for-profit schools, and laws to weaken or eliminate collective
bargaining, teacher tenure, and certification. It wants a Free Market…”
market theory caters to self-interested desires and profit to the detriment of
other peoples’ lives, all the while promising “freedom and prosperity.” Free
market principles advocate that the rich and poor should be taxed at the same
flat rate, despite creating a vast inequity; that, for example, education,
health care, retirement pensions, national parks (and most any function
intrinsic to essential governing) become privatized; that publicly-owned
companies, services and their assets be auctioned off to private investors; and
that besides allocating vast amounts of wealth and resources from public to
private ownership, that in the free market the transfer of private debts to the
public sector while public ownership is systematically dismantled ironically
“State Policy Network has been a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) for
many years. According to the National Education Association (NEA), ‘ALEC
utilizes the services of the State
Policy Network as a clearinghouse to craft model legislation on
conservative issues and to provide expert testimony in state capitols once
bills are introduced.’ In addition, it notes, ‘ALEC and Heritage also serve as
a media platform for these state-based think tanks to gain national press
attention for research and the legislation and initiatives they introduce.’” The Illinois affiliate of the State Policy Network is the Illinois Policy Institute.
“…Charters operate independently and autonomously, free from union work
rules that prescribe everything from the length of the school day and school year
to pension packages. Teachers' unions have seen them as a threat from the jump
and have been tirelessly opposed: Not only are these non-union shops a threat
to teachers' collective bargaining power, but charters also compete with
district schools for tax money and other resources…
they are not-for-profit or for-profit, and they can be either, charter chains
are businesslike—and they compete aggressively for students…”