Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Right Leans In [to also Pass Major Legislation Expanding Virtual Education] by Lee Fang

“…When a group of for-profit education companies sought legislation allowing online charter schools greater access to taxpayer dollars, it hired dozens of state lobbyists from coast to coast. In addition, however, the virtual-school companies tapped State Policy Network (SPN) to provide academic studies, talking heads for the local media, flip-cam-equipped journalists to quiz critics, and busloads of activists at state capitols.

“Lobbyists with the school companies — including K12 Inc. and Connections Academy — drafted the legislation through ALEC. The State Policy Network groups acted, in essence, as ALEC's public relations team to promote the laws. And it worked: by the end of 2011, sixteen states had passed laws expanding virtual education. The flow of campaign dollars and closed-door influence peddling still happened, as in any traditional corporate campaign to pass major legislation. The difference in this case, however, was a well-oiled operation that could deliver the appearance of a groundswell in demand for proprietary online charter schools, when little public support existed. Worse, the lobbying by SPN-affiliated think tanks overshadowed serious questions about these charter-school businesses, which despite their soaring profit margins have been roundly criticized for abysmal test scores and high dropout rates. Together, these new state-level groups have remade the political map, providing ideological cover for extreme conservative policies once thought of as politically toxic…
State Policy Network's organizations have also operated as fronts for corporations seeking to cloak their business interests under an ideological veneer… The pattern seen in the online education debate has been duplicated to pass corporate tax cuts, reductions to health and education programs, a rollback in state environmental laws, and other corporate and conservative priorities…

“State Policy Network was founded on March 24, 1992, in South Carolina by Thomas Roe, a wealthy businessman, Reagan adviser and leader of the South Carolina Policy Council, a state think tank modeled after the Heritage Foundation. Now headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, SPN began as an effort to mobilize more than twenty state think tanks. Political Research Associates, a left-leaning investigative team, reported that the group quickly became a "government-in-waiting" for the wave of Republican governors elected in 1994. As SPN affiliates proposed broad tax cuts and privatization schemes, the Republican governors frequently hired policy professionals from the think tanks to help enact those ideas…”

from The Right Leans In by Lee Fang

1 comment:

  1. Lee does good work. Just as US policies towards Iran and Afghanistan were used as a means to funnel treasury to corporations. Now virtual schools will be another way to tap into federal dollars and pass them on to corporations. I also find it very suspicious that just as the public is starting to realize the bloated defense budget POW we have to worry about North Korea. We can't think about cutting defense now, I guess we just have to take money from the old, sick and poor because N. Korea is CRAZY! That's even worse than terrorism!