Posted In: ALEC, Uncategorized, Virginia

Report: ALEC education task force fabricates problems to sell solutions

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By Amanda Litvinov /photo by amboo who?

Last week, the American Legislative Exchange Council hosted a celebration at its new headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. Never mind that the group had just weathered a hailstorm of criticism for its role in creating the “Stand Your Ground” law that helped a Florida man go free after shooting an unarmed teenager. ALEC was in a partying mood.

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The American Legislative Exchange Council was established four decades ago to connect corporate players with lobbyists and legislators, trading political influence for funding from foundations with corporate connections, big business and its associations, and some of the nation’s wealthiest individuals.

It’s no surprise, then, that the hallmark of ALEC model legislation is to make conditions as favorable to corporations as possible. The group has long sought ways into the previously untapped market of public education.

A new report by ProgressNow focuses on how the ALEC education task force has used a state-by-state report card to fabricate failure in state public education systems in order to create a sales opportunity for their corporate membership.

Since 2008, those ALEC report cards have focused on education policy, giving higher grades to states that have opened up their public school system to privatization. States that have passed laws to support virtual schools and voucher schemes, for example, receive higher grades than those with high-performing schools but few or no market-based education policies.

In fact, the 25 states with the top performing schools are ranked lower than the 25 states with the lowest performing schools in ALEC’s most recent report card.

The National Educational Policy Center’s examination of the ALEC report card concluded:

Overall, ALEC’s Report Card is grounded less in research than in ideological tenets, as reflected in the high grades it assigns to states with unproven and even disproven market-based policies. The report’s purpose appears to be more about shifting control of education to private interests than in improving education.

ALEC uses its annual report card to paint a false picture of states in need of education reforms. Then its members take the opportunity to sell the solution, calling on their vast network of elected leaders to introduce model legislation that creates opportunities, not for students, but for corporate interests.

Take Virginia, one of nine state stories profiled in ALEC v. Kids.

After receiving  tens of thousands of dollars in campaign donations from virtual learning company K12 Inc., Governor Bob McDonnell requested the introduction of ALEC model legislation to expand virtual education in 2010. It passed in the Virginia legislature, and K12 Inc. swiftly set up shop in one of the state’s most impoverished counties to maximize the public money it would receive.

The Carroll County School Board voted to close down K12’s Virginia Virtual Academy just four years after its opening, due to financial and administrative burden and the fact that the Virtual Academy fared worse than traditional schools on 20 out of 22 measures.

Still, Virginia legislators with ALEC connections enacted a law in 2012 requiring high school students take an online course to graduate, further expanding the market for K12 Inc.

ALEC v. Kids shows what happens when private interests overshadow the needs of those attending and working in our public schools,” said earth science teacher and Virginia Education Association President Meg Gruber.

“The cozy relationship between private interests and elected officials in ALEC should raise a red flag as ALEC ‘model’ bills make their way into state legislatures, including Virginia’s. … We need to put children, not profits, first.”

 

Reader Comments

  1. Sandy

    ALEC has been successful because we, as educators, have not taken a serious interest in electing intelligent candidates capable of thinking. ALEC creates an easy way for these struggling polticians to “copy” its legislation. What is workable, doable, practical, fair and certainly “unintended consequences” are not considered. Oh, for the days when we elected people capable of asking friends to help them write or at least “vet” proposed legislation by experts in the area most effected by the legislation.

    Reply
  2. Karen Wilkes

    I certainly do not understand how the senate or the house of representatives with their limited information and compromised integrity can give any other standing organization an “F”. This may be inflammatory, but so is the reprehensible conduct of many of our representatives. They step on whomever they please, and laugh while the disenfranchised among us are cheated and ignored. They believe in nothing like Christian behavior, nothing! I do not even recognize them as admirable human secularists. They come across as bullies, and bootlickers of the very rich. Ruthlessness in the eyes of us all should cause alarm. If there is a decent person left in our government there should be more evidence of it. More people should have jobs. More children should not have to starve. The public education system has been beaten up enough by those who really have very little to offer besides testing contracts that are given away to companies that are profiting while doing the best (or worst) they can to make children and teachers meet requirements that make them less able to progress. Spending more time on teaching real children, using methods that are causing growth among children, and support for good teaching, instead of punitive testing, might add to the strength of our public schools; and better moral insight might add to the integrity and appeal of our legislatures. We would all be able have pride in ourselves if we could see some hope of these outcomes. First, grownups give us the example of integrity. Then children can see real human beings whom they might want to emulate. Right now, a very few of our so-called “representatives” are evident as healthy examples of what we might wish to see in our future leaders. Sorry, Alec, we give YOU an “F”!!!!!

    Reply
  3. Kerry Hyman

    The anti-government, anti-public sector fever that saturates the right at this time in our history is something that has sprung from 30 years of favor for America, Incorporated. Tax policy, Free Trade Agreements, ALEC, “Corporations are people, my friend,” Citizens United vs. The Federal Election Commission, have shifted favor to the wealthy and powerful that occupy Executive suites in American “multinational” Corporations, and those in the Financial Sector. Silly sentiments like patriotism, loyalty to country, nationalistic obligation have lost their traction in the realm of accountants, and bottom line profit margins.

    As wealth and power is consolidated at the top, and America, Inc. conglomerates and monopolizes steadily toward “transnational,” or “multinational” status, you will see more and more of the confusing messages carried out by the media they own, and less and less unification of the citizens of this once great nation as a result. Indeed, the “transnationals” do not answer to any government; they are ruled by their executive officers, and board of directors whose only goal is the consolidation of the world’s wealth unto themselves, totally outside the rule of mere nations.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/paddy_ashdown_the_global_power_shift.html

    The ONLY entity that exists anymore that CAN intervene in this move toward the globalization of the USA by America, Inc. is the BIG BAD USA GOVERNMENT and it has been labeled “THE ENEMY!” by the right.

    Reply
  4. Kerry Hyman

    The anti-government, anti-public sector fever that saturates the right at this time in our history is something that has sprung from 30 years of favor for America, Incorporated. Tax policy, Free Trade Agreements, ALEC, “Corporations are people, my friend,” Citizens United vs. The Federal Election Commission, have shifted favor to the wealthy and powerful that occupy Executive suites in American “multinational” Corporations, and those in the Financial Sector. Silly sentiments like patriotism, loyalty to country, nationalistic obligation have lost their traction in the realm of accountants, and bottom line profit margins.

    As wealth and power is consolidated at the top, and America, Inc. conglomerates and monopolizes steadily toward “transnational,” or “multinational” status, you will see more and more of the confusing messages carried out by the media they own, and less and less unification of the citizens of this once great nation as a result.

    The ONLY entity that exists that CAN intervene in the move toward the globalization of the USA by America, Inc. is the BIG BAD USA GOVERNMENT and it has been labeled “THE ENEMY!” by the right.

    Reply
  5. Chatham H. Forbes Sr.

    ALEC is clearly a subversive organization of far right, extremist fanatics, funded by foolish would-be oligarchs with more money than sense. It is, on the record, anti-democratic and actively subversive, working in our democratic constitutional republic to destroy its traditional populist value system. The negative political results of its policies and legislative “models” have revealed its covert aims to well informed Americans. Education is only one of the institutions it has targeted for radical ideological change. Any success ALEC has been able to achieve reflects the very poor state of popular education in what used to be called Civics, at least in predominantly backward areas of certain states. Why this ignorance can still exist in many places, despite all of the hard lessons our nation has had to learn in the past, is difficult to understand. We shouldn’t be vulnerable to these reactionary plotters, but we obviously are. What kind of Social Studies have we been teaching our kids?

    Reply
    • Christian

      I hated history. It was boring memorization of historical facts that were meaningless. This was in Lexington, MA, one of the most progressive education systems in the country! I dropped out and obtained my GED. Once I entered college and started to learn, I could not get enough. I am now completing my dissertation. NCLB has made the situation in our public schools worse. Just the way ALEC likes it-an ignorant population is easily manipulated.

      Reply
  6. Susan Raymond

    Thank you Edward, for pointing out how insidious ALEC is in our state Legislatures. Unfortunately Arizona is a big follower of ALEC and as teachers we have lost our right to tenure and just about any other protection we had. The AEA (teacher’s union) which has lost many members because of the state’s and ALEC’s stand, has fought many of their policies in court and has won, showing that much of what ALEC is pushing is unconstitutional.
    Wherever you are, fight ALEC’s influence in your state!

    Reply
  7. CriscoSue

    The SGY law was adopted by ALEC: Florida ‘Stand Your Ground’ law[edit]
    After Florida passed its Stand-your-ground law, the American Legislative Exchange Council adopted its legislative language into one of its model policies. [Wikipedia]
    This demonstrates what ALEC does. It goes into areas and fixes unbroken things to make them the good guys at rescuing a broken system. I get sickened when I hear one of the K12 online school advertisements. I, too, teach in Florida, and have witnessed over the past 10 years the gradual creeping in of public monies diverted to supply a substandard education on the internet. Virtual education obviously lacks providing the socialization skills practice necessary for young people to work productively in the work environment. Not every job our young people will be employed by will be internet based! And from of the vitriolic or uninformed comments I see here, not every person is well equipped to productively use the internet.

    Reply
  8. Dave

    The direct connection between making certain the public schools are perceived as failures and opening them up to corporate profiteering has been painfully obvious for a long time here in Florida. Charter schools, vouchers which primarily benefit wealthy private school patrons, online schemes which create substandard courses taught by uncertified and vastly understaffed “schools.” All of these things have been going on for some time, along with the testing mania, which changes every year, so non real valid comparisons (if there are any) can ever be made. This has been the story now for more than a decade.

    Reply
  9. Dave

    The direct connection between making certain the public schools are perceived as failures and opening them up to corporate profiteering has been painfully obvious for a long time here in Florida. Charter schools, vouchers which primarily benefit wealthy private school patrons, online schemes which create substandard courses taught by uncertified and vastly understaffed “schools.” All of these things have been going on for some time, along with the testing mania, which changes every year, so non real valid comparisons (if there are any) can ever be made. This has been the story now for more than a decade.

    Reply
  10. Deb

    You lost me at “Stand your ground”. The Zimmerman defense was not based on this, and never referred to it.

    I can’t be botheted to hear anything else you have to say.

    Reply
  11. Eric Brown

    Guess what Chicago? You will have the chance to challenge directly the folks responsible for voter suppression laws, “stand your ground” laws, anti-labor laws, and a host of anti-LGBT and anti-women legislative proposals. That’s right…ALEC creeps into Chicago in August. Join the rally and let them hear what we think of their Anti-American Legislative Exchange Creepiness.

    Attend the rally at ALEC Conference Chicago
    WHEN: August 8, 2013 – Rally starts 12 pm
    WHERE: Outside Palmer House Hilton, 17 E Monroe, Chicago, IL

    Reply
    • Gwenyth

      I will be attending the Chicago rally to protest ALEC’s selfishly-motivated schemes. I am hopeful that many other Americans will join me in standing against this false-information mongering club for the rich industrialists who are buying their way into OUR government. Please attend: Noon on 8-8-13 at the Palmer House at 17 E. Monroe St.

      Reply
  12. Martin Haub

    This entire article is hokum. The first paragraph is a lie, one that will be continued to be pressed by the left, Democrats, the liar Obama, the mainstream media and others. Get it straight: STAND YOUR GROUND was NOT the or a reason why George Zimmerman was acquitted. His defense was SELF DEFENSE. Trayvon Martin may have been unarmed, but he was hardly innocent of a crime. Did you not see the pictures of Zimmerman’s battered head? Did Zimmerman instigate the problem? Sure. But Stand Your Ground was NOT a defense tactic. So, since the writer is either too stupid or biased to grasp this, the rest of the article is called into question.

    Reply
    • Mary Burns

      True, his case was based on self defense, BUT you apparently did not hear the juror credit Stand Your Ground for her decision. Hence, it did influence the verdict! Maybe you should be more informed before you perpetuate this false information!

      Reply
    • Charles

      Martin, you are correct in that GZ’s defense was self-defense, which was based upon his story, which the prosecution could not prove or didn’t want to prove. You are incorrect about TM. TM was innocent in this case and he did nothing wrong. I never believed GZ’s story about being attacked and beat up by TM for one second because the evidence showed otherwise. For example, if GZ was indeed attacked by TM as he said, this places GZ on his back, on the ground and in the web grass because it was raining. But, if you look at the photos of GZ by the Sanford police dept. taken shortly after he killed TM, there are no grass stains, dirt stains or anything on any part of his clothes front and back, which proves he never was on the ground. A life and death struggle on a wet ground will produce a lot of stains on one’s clothing. The injuries GZ had on his face and on the back of his head, which you believe TM did, which you use to prove that TM attacked GZ doesn’t prove that. If you carefully look at these images, they can be explained how they occurred. If you look at the image of GZ’s face, you will notice he was not bleeding from the nose at all. The blood came from a nick to the tip of his nose, which he most likely got while he was chasing TM down with his gun out and in the process, his gun hit his nose or when he was in front of TM and about to kill him, TM hit his arm in an attempt to prevent GZ in killing him. Remember, there are no stains whatsoever on GZ’s clothes. The back of the head injuries most likely occurred while GZ was standing over TM’s dead body shortly after killing him in cold blood and in moment of self-actualization, he realized what he had just did and subsequently hit the back of his head with his gun – It was an “Oh My God!” moment. go to http://www.evidencetrail.net to view the evidence.

      Reply
      • lsams

        This is somewhat similar to what I believe to be true. Zimmerman shot Trayvon first, then banged himself up to concoct that self defense assertion. Could have even banged his own head on the sidewalk.

        Reply
    • Jim

      The previous FL law demanded that anyone who believes they are in danger must FIRST attempt to flee. Also, the person must NOT have been the instigator. The ALEC inspired “Stand Your Ground” disaster WAS the cause of this tragedy.

      Reply
      • E Ross

        Florida is a state full of a-hole politicians and idiots who vote for them. It is a state I will NEVER return to.

        Reply
    • Gwenyth

      Stand Your Ground is at the base of many crimes…M v. Z being only one.

      Reply
  13. Edward

    You need to understand this about ALEC:

    One of the tragedies in the anti-democratic reforms currently taking place across the spectrum of American society is the cynical manipulation of mainstream Americans’ belief in the presumed integrity of democratic processes and the disbelief that blatant lying, maneuvering, misinforming, and disinforming for the sake of corporate hegemony can happen in the good ol’ U.S. of A.

    More attention needs to be paid to a deliberate strategy of chaos that is being played out. While ALEC (and its other affiliations and associations) can show that it does not always have a direct connection to the agendas currently being wielded, indirect links and influence are often discovered.

    The late Paul Weyrich, co-founder of ALEC, helped Eric Heubeck write the manifesto for the New Traditionalist Movement in 2001. While The New Traditionalists and the Dominionists have been encouraged not to draw additional unneeded attention to themselves, their manifesto, nonetheless, illustrates, in part, HOW rapid change is taking place in the U.S. If such a manifesto were written by a group outside the U.S. trying to influence U.S. policies and institutions, it would be considered terrorism, which is what it is — domestic terrorism.

    Here are some excerpts:

    “This essay is based on the belief that the truth of an idea is not the primary reason for its acceptance. Far more important is the energy and dedication of the idea’s promoters—in other words, the individuals composing a social or political movement…”

    “There will be three main stages in the unfolding of this movement. The first stage will be devoted to the development of a highly motivated elite able to coordinate future activities. The second stage will be devoted to the development of institutions designed to make an impact on the wider elite and a relatively small minority of the masses. The third stage will involve changing the overall character of American popular culture…”

    “Our movement will be entirely destructive, and entirely constructive. We will not try to reform the existing institutions. We only intend to weaken them, and eventually destroy them. We will endeavor to knock our opponents off-balance and unsettle them at every opportunity. All of our constructive energies will be dedicated to the creation of our own institutions…”

    “We will maintain a constant barrage of criticism against the Left. We will attack the very legitimacy of the Left. We will not give them a moment’s rest. We will endeavor to prove that the Left does not deserve to hold sway over the heart and mind of a single American. We will offer constant reminders that there is an alternative, there is a better way. When people have had enough of the sickness and decay of today’s American culture, they will be embraced by and welcomed into the New Traditionalist movement. The rejection of the existing society by the people will thus be accomplished by pushing them and pulling them simultaneously.”

    “We must create a countervailing force that is just as adept as the Left at intimidating people and institutions that are used as tools of left-wing activism but are not ideologically committed, such as Hollywood celebrities, multinational corporations, and university administrators. We must be feared, so that they will think twice before opening their mouths…”

    “We will be results-oriented rather than good intentions-oriented. Making a good-faith effort and being ideologically sound will be less important than advancing the goals of the movement…”

    “We will use guerrilla tactics to undermine the legitimacy of the dominant regime. We will take advantage of every available opportunity to spread the idea that there is something fundamentally wrong with the existing state of affairs. … contribute to a vague sense of uneasiness and dissatisfaction with existing society. … We need to break down before we can build up. We must first clear away the flotsam of a decayed culture.”

    “We need more people with fire in the belly, and we need a message that attracts those kinds of people…We must reframe this struggle as a moral struggle, as a transcendent struggle, as a struggle between good and evil. And we must be prepared to explain why this is so. We must provide the evidence needed to prove this using images and simple terms…”

    Support of an Elite More Valuable than Support of the Masses

    “We will initially operate according to the belief that it is more important to win over the elites (or create a new, better one) than to build up a mass movement. Furthermore, it is more important to have a few impassioned members than a large number of largely indifferent members. The amount of energy, élan, and self-assurance that we are able to inculcate in the leaders of our movement will ultimately determine its success or failure.”

    “The new movement must be, in part, exclusive and elite. It must not be afraid to pass along a body of knowledge that is not readily accessible to and understandable by everyone. The strong appeal of a feeling of exclusivity and superiority will give our members a reason to endure the slings and arrows of popular disapproval.”

    “The New Traditionalist movement will appeal to the masses, but not immediately. The ideas of the masses never come from the masses. To the extent that the masses are more conservative than the elites, this is primarily because the masses have a long collective memory, and they still value the beliefs articulated by a long-lost elite. The conservative instincts of the American people will continue to erode unless a new elite is formed to refresh that memory.”

    “We must recognize that literature and philosophy do not appeal to the masses. This is why we must develop ways to spread our philosophy using non-rational means–especially the moving image.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Integration_of_Theory_and_Practice

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/10/01/1021676/-A-Rant-against-ALEC-and-Koch-everyone-should-read-before-it-s-too-late

    If we could be flies on the wall of the backroom meetings and deals being made in the decision-making circles, this is the language we would hear and the strategies being put forward. This is the language that is covered up when proponents of the underlying strategies make PUBLIC pronouncements.

    Reply
  14. bob22

    I still don’t understand how/why over 1000 teachers Lose their jobs but tfa candidates get placed. Did/does the union have anything to do or say about it?

    Reply
    • Barbara Pierpont

      Bob22, most teachers are prohibited from belonging to a union. We have the NEA – National Education ASSOCIATION (not a Union). Here in KY, where they just raided our pension fund to build a newer horse racing track, we have no union and they have walked all over our association. I have left teaching in public school because of the way teacher are being treated today. Just FYI: I have three Master’s degrees – Physics, Geoscience, and Science Curriculum Design and I’ve been told I’m too smart to teach in public school despite students and parents loving my classes. This country is going nuts.

      Reply
    • Gwenyth

      Our current ALEC-led government has taken away teachers’ bargaining rights; therefore, educators are at-will employees.

      Reply

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