Thursday, July 20, 2017

Betsy DeVos' Latest Speech Draws Protests, Even Before She Speaks : NPR Ed : NPR

Betsy DeVos' Latest Speech Draws Protests, Even Before She Speaks : NPR Ed : NPR:

Betsy DeVos' Latest Speech Draws Protests, Even Before She Speaks


Hundreds of protesters hold signs and chant at a rally in front of the Colorado State Capitol in Denver. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is scheduled to deliver a speech to the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, which backs school choice policies coast to coast.
Ann Marie Awad/CPR

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is speaking to the annual meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, on Thursday in Denver, but protests from left-wing activists and teacher groups started Wednesday.
Hundreds marched from the state Capitol in Denver to the Hyatt Regency, the site of the speech, with signs reading: "Dump Betsy DeVos," "Take Devouchers Elsewhere" and "Stop School Privatization!"
DeVos' speeches have drawn notable protests before, as when she gave the commencement address at a historically black college. This time, her entire policy agenda is at issue. Ties between the DeVos family and ALEC go back decades. And there is barely any daylight between ALEC's education policies and the ones DeVos has advanced in her role as secretary.
Inez Feltscher, director of ALEC's education policy work, tells NPR Ed that DeVos "has been a wonderful champion for school choice both before and after becoming secretary of education, and advancing educational choice is one of the key issues we work on here at ALEC."
Every year ALEC brings together state legislators, free-market conservative lobbyist groups and corporate sponsors. Currently listed on the "leadership" page of its website are executives from the insurance, pharmaceutical, energy and telecom industries, as well as Don Lee, a former Republican legislator from Colorado turned head lobbyist for the for-profit online education company K12 Inc.


Together, these groups collaborate on model legislation. ALEC has a track record of getting the laws that it writes on the books in dozens of states with few changes.
"We see the same pieces of legislation being proposed in state, after state, after state," says Julie Underwood, an endowed chair in education policy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who has been investigating ALEC's actions in education for the past five years. She has tracked versions of ALEC bills through public records in state libraries.
In education, says Underwood, ALEC backs "vouchers, vouchers, vouchers," with variants such as education tax credits and tax-credit scholarships. They have written policies that make it easier to open charter schools, and to run for-profit and virtual Betsy DeVos' Latest Speech Draws Protests, Even Before She Speaks : NPR Ed : NPR:
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