Friday, April 5, 2013

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.


What is ALEC?
“…Coordinated efforts to introduce model legislation aimed at defunding and dismantling public schools is the signature work of this conservative organization.

“Technically, American 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 liberty.’

“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 force.

“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 have.”

from A Smart ALEC Threatens Public Education by Julie Underwood, Dean of the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Julie F. Mead.

“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…”

from What You Need to Know about ALEC by Diane Ravitch

What is a so-called Free Market?

…The free 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 continue…

What is the State Policy Network?

“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.

Charter Schools

“…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…
“Whether they are not-for-profit or for-profit, and they can be either, charter chains are businesslike—and they compete aggressively for students…”

1 comment:

  1. Also included in Sourcewatch is the complete list of current and former Illinois politicians with ties to A.L.E.C.