by Brian Washington
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Some of the politicians attending this week’s annual meeting in Denver held by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) may be having second thoughts about their connection to the group—thanks to a huge rally and march that involved hundreds of educators, parents, and community activists. At least that’s what Denver educator Christina Medina hopes.
“I hope they start questioning what they are doing with ALEC,” said Medina, who says ALEC is behind the promotion of policies detrimental to students and public education. “I hope they start asking,’Is this benefiting students and the public? Is this the right thing to do? Is this what my constituents need?’”
After holding a rally at the State Capitol yesterday morning, in a 100 degree heat, Medina and hundreds of marchers headed downtown to the Hyatt Regency Denver, where they surrounded the building.
This was about showing unity and how many of us are willing to fight for public education.
ALEC, which is funded by conservative, rightwing groups and individuals with deep pockets, like the Koch Brothers, brings politicians and corporate special interests groups together under one roof to drive an agenda that has proven to be unfriendly to public education and other vital government services working and middle-class families depend on.
ALEC politicians sell out their constituents and agree to push the group’s corporate-back legislation in exchange for big campaign checks and expensive vacation junkets. And the worst part is that all this backroom dealing is done in secret, behind closed doors.
“We need to let people in Denver and Colorado know what ALEC is up to,” said Medina, who’s been contacted by friends and family about yesterday’s event. “I received a couple of questions from people saying, ‘Oh my God! This is amazing but what exactly is ALEC?’ So we need to expose ALEC to the public.”
ALEC politicians are known for pushing vouchers in state legislatures across the nation. Vouchers drain public schools, and the vast majority of students who depend on them, of hundreds of millions of dollars in valuable resources just to pay the private school tuition of a selected few.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, a huge ALEC supporter, is scheduled to speak at today’s session. DeVos, who has proven on numerous occasions that she is unqualified to be education secretary, and President Trump are backing a budget proposal that slashes $9 billion from public education and would set up a $1billion national voucher scheme.
“Our students deserve better than Betsy DeVos,” said Medina. “We need an education secretary who supports public education and knows our public schools are the best hope for inspiring students and helping them achieve their dreams and goals.”
While Medina considers yesterday’s event a success, when it comes to blocking ALEC’s destructive agenda, she understand it’s going to take more, which is why she’s issuing a call to all those who support public schools.
“Join the movement!” she exclaimed. “I want all educators, parents, and community partners to know that we need to join together and stop corporate money from infiltrating public education so it can truly stay public and for all our students.”