ALEC 2016 Agenda Boosts Charters, Coal, and Other Corporate Funders
The American Legislative Exchange Council will push bills to protect failing charter schools, silence political speech, and obstruct environmental protections in the ALEC 2016 agenda introduced at its annual meeting in Indianapolis this week.
ALEC faces renewed public attention as it gears up for the annual meeting, where corporate lobbyists sit side-by-side with state legislators in luxury hotels to vote as equals on "model bills" that then get pushed to become law in states across the country.
As the Center for Media and Democracy has reported, Donald Trump chose an ALEC ally, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, as his running mate, while his party's 2016 platform was clearly stamped in the Koch-fueled ALEC mold.
Pence Pushed ALEC Agenda in the Hoosier State
As Governor, Pence appointed an ALEC staffer to his cabinet, and pushed parts of the ALEC agenda into law, such as anti-worker bills like repealing the prevailing wage and privatizing public schools in various ways. He even sent a letter to state legislators urging them to join ALEC, which is widely described as a corporate bill mill. ALEC is funded by Koch Industries, Peabody Energy, huge global tobacco and drug companies, and other corporations that pay a premium to access ALEC lawmakers.
Conveniently for him, this year's meeting will be held in the snazzy J.W. Marriott in downtown Indianapolis. Pence is scheduled to deliver a keynote address at lunch on Wednesday, then is slated to speak at an evening reception on school "reform" jointly hosted by the Center for Education Reform (CER) and the Jack Kemp Foundation (JKF).
If Pence had time to stay for a few task force meetings, here are some of the new "model bills" he would find voted on behind closed doors by ALEC legislators alongside corporate lobbyists and representatives of special interest groups that are part of the State Policy Network (SPN).
Second Chances for Failing Charter Schools
The for-profit education companies that help fund ALEC, like K12, Inc., have a track record of poor results that tends to result in a high rate of school closures. K12, which was founded in part by junk bond fraudster felon Michael Milken, has a seat and a vote on ALEC's corporate board.
Two new bills being considered by what ALEC now dubs its "Education and Workforce Development Task Force" could help poorly performing charters stay open without having to improve.
Under the Assessment Choice Act, instead of using a uniform assessment for students statewide, charters' authorizers would take their pick from a "menu" of tests, unlike traditional public schools.
If propping up test scores isn't enough to save a charter from closure, the "Student and Family Fair Notice and Impact Statement Act" promises to add new hurdles. Before closing or restructuring a charter school, this act would not just require that families be notified. It would also create a public hearing process in which parents, teachers, and "experts" could give testimony about the school, and the charter board would be allowed to suggest a response plan.
In case it wasn't obvious that the bill is meant to keep the charter in operation, the drafter of that model bill added:
"[drafting note: it should be clear the school can present an alternative for supporters of the school to rally around.]"
School privatization proponents have slowly been dropping the pretense that the "school choice" movement is about ALEC 2016 Agenda Boosts Charters, Coal, and Other Corporate Funders | PR Watch: