If a children’s book were written about ALEC, the group that bills itself as an association of conservative lawmakers and supporters, it might be called “The Very Greedy Octopus.” It would read like one of those creepy 19th-century fairly tales that most parents would never, ever read to their young ones—it’s just too scary.
For nearly four decades, the American Legislative Exchange Council has been working in the shadowy deep to rewrite the nation’s laws in favor of the wealthiest corporations and CEOs, no matter the loss to working families, communities of color, the environment or public education. One sad chapter in the book would tell how that sneaky, selfish octopus saw a school of fish and thought, “Hey, these schools are everywhere—how can I cash in?”
That’s right: ALEC has made it a top priority to fundamentally change the nation’s public school system, not only to divert taxpayer dollars to money-making ventures, but also to squeeze the life out of the unions that protect educators’ ability to advocate for students. Education-focused ALEC bills are tailored state to state, but many push to:
- Privatize education through charter schools, voucher programs and tax incentives, obscuring these programs’ true purpose with positive names like “parent choice” and “innovation schools”
- Clear the way for online (often for-profit) at-home schooling options that benefit corporations, not students
- Reduce local control of schools by school boards and parents, and increase the influence of the private sector
- Use “marketplace standards” to evaluate educators and students, which means more standardized testing and reporting
- Obliterate the unions that help keep our tax dollars working for students and schools
Trampling public education is just part of the story of ALEC—it has lots of other arms out there, and one has a chokehold on voters’ rights. The group’s efforts to disenfranchise those most likely to vote ALEC members out of office through laws meant to confuse and disqualify them on Election Day are well documented.
[readon2 url="http://www.educationvotes.nea.org/2012/04/12/the-story-of-alec-help-us-write-the-ending/"]Continue reading, and find out how you can help loosen ALEC’s grip[/readon2]