The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) will meet December 4-6 in Washington, DC. The gathering provides an opportunity to call attention to the harmful policies that are being authored and promoted by ALEC in New Hampshire—from the privatization of public education to voter suppression and attacks on collective bargaining.
For decades—and in states throughout the nation—ALEC has used corporate donations to influence local and state laws. Through their extensive network, and relationships with elected officials, ALEC provides model legislation for a variety of policy areas. Their aim is clear and their formula is simple: Defund, deregulate, privatize, and profit. In recent years ALEC has aggressively pursued an education agenda which puts kids last. And they have kept communities from having real conversations about effective education reform.
This week, ALEC members will meet in Washington, DC, to decide which corporate-backed bills they should be taken to their respective statehouses. In response, labor, faith, social justice and environmental activists throughout the region will protest on Thursday, December 5.
ALEC’s plans include undermining public education, lining the pockets of for-profit school companies and a variety of anti-worker and anti-labor initiatives.
The Guardian has uncovered internal ALEC documents and is publishing them here. The documents, prepared for its most recent annual board meeting in Chicago in August, cast light on the inner workings of the group.
The Guardian reports that the documents show that:
• ALEC has set up a separate sister group called the “Jeffersonian Project” amid concerns over possible government inquiries into whether its activities constitute lobbying – which would threaten its tax-exempt status.
• The network has suffered a decline in its membership among state-based Republicans and among big corporations following the Trayvon Martin controversy;
• Its income raised from conferences, membership fees and donations has fallen short, leaving the group with a potential funding crisis;
• A draft agreement prepared for the board meeting proposed that Alec’s chairs in each of the 50 states, who are drawn from senior legislators, should be required to put the interests of the organization first, thus setting up a possible conflict of interest with the voters who elected them;
• ALEC is also considered extending its remit to include the gambling industry, particularly online gambling, as a possible source of new members and revenue.
ALEC’s track record on education policy is driven by what’s best for corporations and CEOs—not what’s best for kids. ALEC’s education agenda is anti-public education.
Instead of working with educators and parents to understand the type of reforms that will actually help our children, ALEC partners with politicians, CEOs and outside special interest groups whose members think they know— without spending any time in a classroom—how to fix our schools, and who are more focused on the bottom line than our children’s future. Our kids deserve education policy that puts them first. ALEC works with politicians like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and right-wing funders to advance an agenda that is anti-public education.
As a result, ALEC’s education policy has more to do with privatization, profit incentives and other political priorities than it does with educating our children.
ALEC is determined to weaken unions and defund public education. In addition to promoting bad education policy, ALEC is playing the long game by also focusing on how to limit or eliminate collective bargaining. This not only silences educator voices when it comes to developing education policy, but it weakens our ability to hold politicians accountable on public education.
ALEC’s education policies are not based on research, educator experience or proven reforms. Privatization is top on their list and it comes in many forms—parent trigger, vouchers and education tax credits, and corporate cyber schools. But parents and communities get it. For instance, Florida, parent groups led the defeat of the “parent trigger” bill.
NEA’s education agenda puts students at the center of reform. We believe we need to invest in the classroom priorities that build the foundation for student learning. This includes: smaller classes; early childhood education; up-to-date textbooks and computers; a well-rounded education that includes the arts, music and PE; safe and supportive learning environments; greater focus on preparing, mentoring and supporting new teachers; more relevant training for educators; and reliable evaluation systems that actually measure teacher effectiveness NEA continues to support investments
ALEC’s agenda stretches far beyond education. Regardless of your approach to reform, if you believe in making positive change for our schools, our children and our communities then it’s impossible to support ALEC. For example, you can’t denounce ALEC on voting rights and not denounce them on their education policies—it’s all part of a broader package.
We must have the important and hard discussions about public education and education reform, but these discussions should not happen inside ALEC’s frame. Instead, we must address issues like inequity in funding and how to best improve educational outcomes for kids. Important articles to help you better understand ALEC’s motives and current agenda appear below:
The Guardian, ALEC facing funding crisis from donor exodus in wake of Trayvon Martin row (12/3/2013)
Salon, ALEC tries to claw back support lost after Trayvon furor (12/3/2013)
Gawker, The Secret Misspelled Comeback Plan of America’s Creepiest Lobbyists (12/3/2013)
Esquire, THE ALEC DOCUMENTS EXPOSED (12/3/2013)
Talking Points Memo, Report: ALEC Has A Funding Problem After Trayvon Martin Saga (12/3/2013)
The Kansas City Star, ALEC sought a loyalty oath from key state lawmakers (12/3/2013)
Think Progress, Three Signs That The Power Of Secret Lobbying Group ALEC Is Fading (12/3/2013)
Office of U.S. Congressman Mark Pocan, Pocan Comments on ALEC’s New Attempts to Shield Itself against Tax Laws (12/3/2013)
Daily Kos, ALEC crawls from under rock to do damage control (12/3/2013)
Blue Virginia, ALEC in Crisis; Virginia Speaker Bill Howell Tasked With Helping Save It (12/3/2013)
Common Dreams, ALEC Facing ‘Funding Crisis’ Following Public Scrutiny (12/3/2013)
Crooks and Liars, Explosive ALEC Documents Reveal Budget Woes, New Front Group (12/3/2013)
Desmogblog, Leaked Documents Reveal IRS Concerns, Funding Crisis At Corporate Lobbying Group ALEC (12/3/2013)
Democratic Underground, Great News-ALEC is hurting due to loss of sponsors and legislators (12/3/2013)
Beach Peanuts, Sunlight Sends ALEC Cockroaches Scurrying To New Funding Schemes (12/3/2013)
- ALEC tries to claw back support lost after Trayvon furore (salon.com)
- Leaked Documents Reveal IRS Concerns, Funding Crisis At Corporate Lobbying Group ALEC (desmogblog.com)
- CommonDreams – ALEC Facing ‘Funding Crisis’ Following Public Scrutiny – 4 December 2013 (lucas2012infos.wordpress.com)
- Explosive ALEC Documents Reveal Budget Woes, New Front Group (crooksandliars.com)