Archives for category: ALEC

The people of Michigan have received the report of the “Oxford Foundation” on the future of education in that state.

The authors of the report have nothing to do with Oxford University or Britain.

They are not part of a foundation.

They are Republican operatives carrying out the wishes of Governor Rick Snyder to destroy public education in Michigan.

The ideas the report advances are Governor Snyder’s plan to make education “any place, any time, any where, any how, any which way but up or down.”

The basic plan is that anyone can supply education. It is not a public responsibility.

What we now call public education will disappear, if Rick Snyder and the “Oxford Foundation” has its way.

It’s into the free market, with spoils and riches for all!

Good education for those who can afford it.

Boot camps for the rest.


A reader just raised an interesting question offline.

He lives in New Jersey, where the state constitution requires that the state provide a “thorough and efficient” public education.

New Jersey officials today are doing their best to dismantle and privatize the state’s public education system.

Are they violating their oath of office?

What does it say in other state constitutions where the privatizers are busy dismantling the public system for fun, power, profit and ideology?

An article in a Nashville paper describes the discussions about vouchers in Tennessee and generally quotes voucher supporters.

Given that the Governor is a conservative Republican, given that the Legislature is Republican, given that the Legislature often passes ALEC legislation without changing a word, and given that the state has a TFA Commissioner of Education, it seems likely that Tennessee will endorse vouchers for low-income students. In time, as we saw in Wisconsin, the income limits will be lifted.

There is only one important fact missing from the discussion of vouchers in this article: Vouchers have no record of improving test scores wherever they have been tried. Not in Milwaukee, not in the District of Columbia, and not in Cleveland.

It is simply choice for the sake of choice, choice for the sake of privatization.

These past few years, some of us have been trying to awaken the public to the goals and strategy of the privatization movement.

First, they demand high-stakes testing, and they claim they want to “reduce the achievement gap” or “it’s all for the kids.”

Second, they use the scores to give grades to schools and to declare that those with the lowest scores are “failing schools” (purposely ignoring that those with low scores are almost always located in the poorest neighborhoods and enroll high proportions of children of color)

Third, somewhere along the way, they strip teachers of every job protection so they can’t complain and do not have a seat at the table when the budget is slashed

Fourth, they welcome private management, and freely hand out public dollars to entrepreneurs, amateurs, and assorted corporations (don’t forget, “it’s all for the kids,” because “kids first,” “children first,” “students first.”)

In Texas, as the letter below shows, the Democrats are beginning to see what is happening.

The Texas legislature cut over $5 billion from the public schools’ budget but somehow managed to find a measly $500 million for Pearson’s testing regime. Pearson must have super lobbyists, like the guy who was the architect of No Child Left Behind.

Now the next legislature is likely to expand charters and vouchers.

Getting ready to finish off public education.

This letter is from Gilberto Hinojosa, chairman of the Texas Democratic Party:

Dear Democrat,

There’s a reason that the Texas Republican platform is opposed to teaching critical thinking skills. Anyone with the ability to think can look at what Republicans are doing to our schools and realize that it’s insanity!

Last year, Republicans cut five billion dollars from public education. But they won’t be happy until they fully end public education as we know it. There’s a war against teaching and schools going on in our State, and we won’t sit by and let this happen!


Republican Senator Dan Patrick was recently appointed Chair of the Senate Education Committee. We know what that means for the next legislative session, because he’s already told us.


“This is the session for us to be bold. This is the session for us to reform public education,” Patrick has announced.


“Reform” is code for defund and destroy.


Patrick is partnering with Perry and Dewhurst to further defund our schools in a dramatic way.  They want to take money from our children’s futures and pass it to their cronies. Republicans call it vouchers, but it’s clear that their goal is not to provide better educational opportunities. Those who truly champion our children would not start by cutting over five billion dollars of support for their education.


It is absolutely insane and objectionable that Texas Republicans see the education of our children as a political tool and as a way to give more money to their rich buddies.


Every Democrat in this State needs to get out there and vote like the future depends on it because IT DOES. At the Texas Democratic Party we’re fighting against this insanity. But we need you to fight with us.


Gilberto Hinojosa 

A nice summary of a bad week for John White, who was hired to implement Governor Bobby Jindal’s plan to privatize public education in Louisiana.

The blogger has an apt title for the week, referring to a delightful children’s book: John White and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week

Last spring, Jindal pushed through the legislature the nation’s most sweeping voucher plan, hoping to undermine public education.

The legislation encourages charters and enacts a teacher evaluation plan that is tied to test scores and extremely punitive.

If the voucher process is any indication, privatization will move ahead with minimal regulation or quality controls.

Louisiana enacted virtually every piece of ALEC legislation. You might say that the state is the poster child for ALEC.

The state is throwing open the door to for-profit entrepreneurs or anyone who wants a piece of the public schools’ minimum foundation budget

A federal judge will decide whether the state is diverting money that was supposed to support desegregation into the voucher program.

More than half the children in the state are eligible–about 450,000 students–but only 10,000 or so applied.

The schools they will attend are mainly religious, and some lack even the rudiments of a decent education, like a curriculum, classrooms, teachers–the little things like that.

And the Jindal charterization of the state has hardly begun.

White has a herculean task, doing what privatizers like to do: handing public money over to private interests with little if any oversight.

And lots of out-of-state money flowed into Louisiana to make sure that Jindal gained control of the state board so that Jindal got just the guy he wanted to do the dirty work, and all these privatization plans would move forward, along with new contracts for–what else–TFA.

Many people with liberal causes have used to launch petition drives.

In its founding, declared its dedication to progressive values.

Many people were upset when allowed Michelle Rhee to surreptitiously gather signatures on its site. You might sign a petition saying you want great teachers or you think teachers should be paid more, and without your knowledge or consent, you were a member of StudentsFirst. You would never get a notice informing that you had unknowingly “joined.” But you would be counted as a member.

Many were also upset that hosted Stand for Children, which is anti-union, anti-teacher, anti-public education, and pro-corporate.

We thought those lapses were aberrations. But now we find that is opening its doors to anti-union, anti-abortion, pro-corporate advertising. Its progressive veneer has simply disappeared. On October 24, the new policy will take effect. The news was leaked to Jeff Bryant, who wrote about it here.

Of course, that is their right. But beware. Don’t sign any petitions on that site. You never will find out what cause or group has just added your name to its membership rolls.

Just be aware that when they ask you if you support puppies and kittens, you might be signing a petition to give away public lands or to outsource American jobs or to bust a union or to support ALEC.

Vermillion Parish School Board in Louisiana joins the Honor Roll as a hero of public education because of its refusal to bow down to the unjust, unwise demands of the State Department of Education. The Louisiana State Department of Education is not at all “conservative.” It believes that bureaucracy should override local control and that the people should hand their local schools over to the whims of the state.

The Louisiana Department of Education chastised four school districts for refusing to obey the Legislature’s command to pay no attention to seniority or tenure when laying off teachers. Three of the four districts–including Vermillion–are among the top 15 districts in the state.

You see, the Legislature thinks it knows more about how to reform education than the best districts and the best educators in the state. Ditto State Commissioner John White, who has only two years teaching for Teach for America and has never been a principal or a superintendent until he was suddenly elevated to his present job by Governor Bobby Jindal, who wants to privatize public education and implement the full ALEC agenda.

The Legislature passed a law (Act 1) last spring saying that layoffs should be based “solely” on demand, performance, and effectiveness. Vermillion’s attorney says that the board has a policy based on the same criteria, but it uses experience as a tie-breaker. Unfortunately, in the eyes of the state, the high-performing Vermillion has a teachers’ union, and the district agreed with the union that seniority or tenure would be used as a secondary way to reduce staff.

Anthony Fontana, a member of the Vermillion school board, spoke plainly about what the Jindal administration was trying to do:

This is an opportunity for Jindal’s administration to bad mouth public education,” said Fontana. “This is another attack on public education. We are not going to stand for it. We have to stand up and fight.”

Jerome Puyau, the superintendent elect of Vermission Parish Schools said, “Our policy does protect great teachers by adding more objective criteria, it takes away the possibility of politics coming into play whether it is the board or superintendent who institutes it. Vermilion Parish respects the experience, certification, and training that great teachers have achieved through the years and has always placed these criteria for major consideration in hiring which is a major reason that Vermilion Parish has been so successful with student achievement.”

This contretemps makes clear what is behind the Jindal agenda: Not improving schools, but privatizing them, even if it ruins the good schools that already exist in Louisiana.

For standing up to the Bullies of Baton Rouge, the Vermillion Parish School Board joins our H0nor Roll as a hero of public education.


Memo to Hollywood: The American public will not pay to see a movie that demonizes teachers’ unions and public schools, while touting the glories of privatization.

“Won’t Back Down” was supposed to be the movie of the year. It had nonstop promotion by NBC’s Education Nation, big-name stars, a stint on Ellen’s show, and a glitzy opening at the New York Public Library.

What was the result?

The movie opened to the worst box-office of any film in wide distribution in thirty years (in 2,504 theaters).

Most theaters dropped it after its poor opening weekend, but it hung on in 513 movie theaters.

Last weekend, the film had box-office receipts of $138,709.

This averages out to $270 per theater, barely enough to pay the ticket-seller.

But the film won’t die.

It will now be shown for free wherever an audience can be gathered to sell the idea that parents should seize their public school and give it to a charter operator. At last report, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was planning free screenings across the nation. Now the U.S. Chamber of Commerce can claim to be part of the new “civil rights” movement, the one that wants to privatize your public schools. It is only fitting for the Chamber to join the “civil rights” movement of our day, since they missed the last one.

An article in a Georgia newspaper identifies the money behind the charter referendum.

Remember that Governor Nathan Deal wants the power to create a state commission to approve charters even though the local school board turns them down. This is based on ALEC model legislation. It serves corporate interests while spurning local control.

The advocates raised almost half a million dollars as of September 1. Almost all of that money came from out of state donors. A big donor was Alice Walton of the Walmart family in Arkansas, who is also a big contributor to the charter campaign in Washington State.

At the same time, the opposition to the referendum had raised less than $90,000, and there were no big donors.

On this charter issue, big donors are swamping local democracy. We seem to be moving rapidly back to the age of the robber barons, only this time it’s the schools they want to buy, not the railroads or other basic industries (they have already outsourced most of them).

The most important voice in state education policy today is the American Legislative Exchange Council, known as ALEC.

ALEC has 2,000 state legislators as members, and dozens of corporate sponsors, including the biggest names in business.

Here is an excellent summary of ALEC’s legislative priorities.

ALEC writes model legislation. Its members carry it home and introduce it as their own in their states.

ALEC promotes charters and vouchers.

ALEC likes the parent trigger.

ALEC likes it when the governor can create a commission to approve charters over the opposition of local school boards.

ALEC favors unregulated, for-profit online schooling.

ALEC wants to eliminate collective bargaining.

ALEC doesn’t think teachers need any certification or credential.

ALEC opposes teacher tenure.

ALEC likes evaluating teachers by test scores.

You should learn about ALEC. Read up on it. It is the most influential voice in the nation on education policy.


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