Archives for category: ALEC

In the last few years, there has been an all-out attack on local control. Most of the attack comes from the privatization movement, which thinks that school boards debate too much, listen too much, move too slowly. The privatizers prefer mayoral control in cities to get fast action. And they push laws and constitutional amendments allowing the governor to create a commission to override local school boards that reject charters. This is the ALEC agenda.

Happily, leading members of the National School Boards Association will have a chance to ask Arne Duncan why he pushes mayoral control, which has done so little for Cleveland and Chicago–and is now approved in NYC by only 18% of the public.

And they can ask Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia what he thinks about that state’s recent drive to strip local school boards of control of their districts. They might also ask him what he thinks of the re segregation that charters are promoting.

Media Advisory

Contact: Linda Embrey
Communications Office, National School Boards Association
Office: 703-838-6737; Cell: 571-437-7425
Onsite Press Room as of January 27: 202-797-4820;

Secretary of Education, Key Congressional Leader to Address National School Boards Association’s Advocacy Conference

Alexandria, Va. (Jan. 25, 2013) – U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee & Member, Senate Finance Committee will speak at the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) 40th annual Federal Relations Network Conference on Monday, Jan. 28. The conference is taking place January 27 to 29 at the Washington Hilton, 1919 Connecticut Ave., Washington, D.C., and will be attended by more than 700 school board leaders from across the country. Attendees will participate in sessions on major public education issues and meet with their members of Congress and Capitol Hill staff to discuss key education policy issues.

The following events are open to the press and are being provided to the media for planning purposes. Items are subject to change.

Monday, Jan. 28:

3 p.m. – Remarks by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. He will speak about progress in K-12 education and the Obama administration’s goals for education reform going forward. A question-and-answer session will follow.

3:30 p.m. – Remarks by Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee & Member, Senate Finance Committee.

Media are welcome to cover these conference sessions. Valid credentials must be shown before obtaining a NSBA press pass. The press room and press registration will be located in the Embassy Room, Terrace Level. Please contact Linda Embrey at 703-838-6737 (office), 571-437-7425 (cell/onsite), 202-797-4820 (onsite press room on Jan. 27), or at .

# # #

Founded in 1940, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) is a not-for-profit organization representing state associations of school boards and their more than 90,000 local school board members throughout the U.S. Working with and through our state associations, NSBA advocates for equity and excellence in public education through school board leadership.

If you would rather not receive future communications from National School Boards Association (NSBA), let us know by clicking here.
National School Boards Association (NSBA), 1680 Duke St., Alexandria, VA 22314 United States

Anthony Cody reflects on a year in which the voices of parents and teachers are at last being heard.

The foundations and the U.S. Department of Education and ALEC were having a field day, pushing untried and noxious policies without debate, until 2012.

Then things got interesting.

Reform hero Tony Bennett was upset by a National Board Certified Teacher in Indiana.

Cody spoke truth to power in his dialogue with the Gates Foundation.

Friends, we are finding our voice.

The public is beginning to understand.

Be strong.

Bad ideas eventually collapse, especially when they have no record of success and a long history of failure and demoralization.


Some people have wondered what happened to the much ballyhooed film “Won’t Back Down.”

Recall that it was featured on NBC’s “Education Nation,” which is the showcase for the corporate reform movement; one of its stars was interviewed on “Ellen”; it had an elegant opening party at the New York Public Library; Michelle Rhee hosted showings at the two national political conventions.

Should have been a big hit, right? Wrong.

It opened in 2,5000 theaters and disappeared within a month. Hardly anyone wanted to see it.

But it lives! The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is showing it around the country to business organizations, to convince them that the local public schools are awful and that they must support charter schools. Think of it: Schools where children learn to obey or get kicked out.

Here are the events planned for this week in Birmingham, Alabama, where businesses are still looking for the best way to train their workforce:



On behalf of the Birmingham Business Alliance, I would like to thank each of for agreeing to participate in our panel discussion next week in conjunction with our “Breaking the Monopoly of Mediocrity in Education” tour.  As we continue to work towards providing all students in the state of Alabama with quality education options and creating a dynamic workforce, it is important to have dialogue with those who are not only advocates for better education but, who are also actively working to bring about change.  Attached you will find the final agenda as well as talking points for each panel.  Within each panel, if there is an issue that you feel should be addressed, please don’t hesitate to send your suggestion.  A more detailed email will be sent on Tuesday of next week and will address any concerns or changes that are brought to my attention by panel participants.  Again, we are excited to have each of you participate in this interactive forum.  Please feel free to forward the invitation and registration link to any of your contacts or distribution list who would be interested in attending.

Thank you and we look forward to your participation.

L. Waymond Jackson, Jr.
Director – Education and Workforce Development
505 20th Street North, Suite 200
Birmingham, AL 35203
(205) 241-8117 (office)
(205) 324-2560 (fax)<>

On January 24th and 25th please join the Birmingham Business Alliance, the U. S. Chamber of Commerce and the Institute for a Competitive Workforce as we kick-off their national tour “Breaking the Monopoly of Mediocrity in Education.”  The tour will focus on the various methods of education reform, business community involvement and engaging the community to become catalyst for change in education and workforce development.  Most recently, this tour has visited cities such as Memphis, Indiana, and Phoenix to name a few.

Day one consists of a screening of the movie “Won’t Back Down” featuring Academy Award Nominee, Viola Davis (The Help), immediately followed by a networking reception and opportunity to discuss the education reform issues addressed in the film.

Day two features a panel discussion comprised of area business and education leaders sharing ideas regarding education reform and how best to align the workforce needs of industry with K-12 , post-secondary, and higher education.  Topics to be discussed include, The Importance of Pre-K and Early Childhood Education, and How to Achieve a Ready to Work and Engaged Workforce.

Registration for this event is free and due to limited seating we encourage you to register before the event.  For a complete listing of panel participants please view the attached agenda; to register click on the link below.  Also, included in your “free” registration on Thursday, January 24th are popcorn, drinks, and hors d’ oeuvres and breakfast and lunch are included on Friday, January 25th.  Thanks and we look forward to seeing you next week.

Now that Michigan has become the 24th state to pass a “right to work” law, there is considerable confusion about the reasons for such legislation. Many corporations have long wanted such laws so they could be free of the demands of unions. Many rightwing politicians have wanted to decimate unions to remove their ability to fund liberal political campaigns.

This writer, Paul Cole, a labor activist, explains what the legislation means.

Representatives designated or selected for the purposes of collective bargaining by the majority of the employees in a unit appropriate for such purposes, shall be the exclusive representatives of all the employees in such unit for the purposes of collective bargaining in respect to rates of pay, wages, hours of employment, or other conditions of employment.
National Labor Relations Act (Sec. 9)

Under American labor law, unlike many other countries, when a majority of workers in a determined bargaining unit, vote to be represented by a union, that union becomes the exclusive representative of all workers in that unit. The purpose is to provide employees with a single, unified voice in determining their conditions of employment and the opportunity for employers to deal with one entity, instead of many competing ones, to establish the rights and responsibilities of both the employer and employees.

Federal law that governs private sector workers, as well as many state public employee laws, guarantees every worker who is represented by a union equal and nondiscriminatory representation – meaning unions must provide the same services, vigorous advocacy, and contractual rights and benefits. The guarantee applies regardless of whether the employee is a union member or not. All non-dues-paying employees are provided full union representation at no charge.

If you are not a member of the union, you are fully covered by the collective bargaining agreement that was negotiated between the union and your employer including wages, pensions, vacations, health insurance, seniority, and working hours.

The statutory right of exclusive representation mandates a “duty of fair representation” on the part of the union. It has the obligation to represent all employees fairly, in good faith, and without discrimination. The right to speak for all employees in the bargaining unit carries with it the corresponding duty to protect them as well.

Federal and state laws also guarantee that no one can be forced to be a member of a union, or to pay any amount of dues or fees to a political or social cause they do not support.

“Right-to-Work” laws make it illegal for employers and unions to mutually agree to require nonunion employees to pay fees to cover the benefits they legally receive under the collective bargaining agreement.

Fees have nothing to do with “forced unionism.”

Organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce, billionaire-funded conservative foundations and their Republican allies, want unions to be the only organizations in America that are required to provide benefits and services to individuals who pay nothing for them. This is the same as enabling some American citizens to opt out of paying taxes while making available all government services.

The real reason for the recent wave of “right-to-work” legislation, and other union weakening laws, has nothing to do with economic competitiveness but the weakening of the labor movement and its political influence. The only institution that stands in the way of the right wing’s domination of our nation’s political and economic system is the American labor movement.

This agenda was unmasked when Wisconsin State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald explained that “this battle” is about eliminating unions so that “the money is not there” for the labor movement.

Last year, the Michigan director of Americans for Prosperity, chaired nationally by David Koch, said, “We fight these battles on taxes and regulations but really what we would like to see is to take the unions out at the knees so they don’t have the resources to fight these battles.”

In virtually every case, the state legislation is taken straight out of the Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) playbook.

It was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who said, “In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as ‘right-to-work.’ It is a law to rob us of our civil rights and job rights. Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and working conditions for everyone… we demand this fraud be stopped.”

If you want to understand what is happening in state after state, district after district, read Lee Fang’s article here. I have read it again and again, and every time I read it, I see something I didn’t see before and understand the national picture better than I did before. I have published this before. I may publish it every few months to make sure that everyone sees it. Or has a reminder to read it again.

A group of parents in Tennessee has formed to support public education and local control. Most of them are public school moms. Their group is “Standing Together for Strong Community Schools.” They oppose vouchers, and they oppose the governor’s plan to create a commission to impose charters on local communities, whether the locals want them or not.

Their inspiration is Amy Frogge, a Nashville parent who was elected to the Metro Nashville school board despite being outspent 5-1. Amy Frogge is a member of our honor roll because she has started a parent movement to defend public education against privatization and profiteers. Amy took a strong stand against the Great Hearts Academy of Arizona, which wants to open a charter school in a mostly white and affluent neighborhood of Nashville. Remember how charters were supposed to “save minority children from failing schools” and “close the achievement gap.” That is not Great Hearts’ plan, and the Metro Nashville board voted to deny the charter. It voted not once, but four times to deny the charter. To punish the school board, State Commissioner of Education Kevin Huffman withheld $3.4 million in state funding that the state owed to the children of Nashville.

And here is the odd part of the Nashville story. Commissioner Huffman told the Metro Nashville school board that the $3.4 million was to be withheld only from public schools, not from charter schools. Remember a few days ago, we discussed here the question of whether charter schools are public schools? Well, apparently, Commissioner Huffman thinks that charter schools are NOT public schools. Only the children who attend public schools in Nashville will be penalized by his decision, not those in charter schools.

So that question is settled. In the eyes of Commissioner Huffman (who previously served as public relations director of Teach for America), charter schools are not public schools. Only the children in public schools are to be affected–punished—by his decision.

And now you know why the parents in Tennessee have created a parent group to fight for public education. Because Commissioner Huffman and Governor Haslam and the far-right members of the Legislature want to privatize public education in Tennessee. The parents want to support their community schools. They want one Nashville.

Groups like “Strong Community Schools” in Tennessee are springing up in states, cities and school districts across the nation. In Texas, there is a moms’ group known as “Moms Against Drunk Testing,” but its real name is Texans Advocating for Meaningful Student Assessment. In Ohio, there is a new group called “Strong Schools, Strong Communities.” A civic group in Indiana called Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education got started last year and was key in the campaign to beat corporate reform state superintendent Tony Bennett.

None of these groups is funded by the big foundations or the big corporations that support ALEC or the Wall Street hedge fund managers that support Democrats for Education Reform or Stand for Children.

They are grassroots citizens who care about their public schools. There will be many more such groups as the public awakens to the privatization juggernaut that is aimed at our public schools.




This is a point by point replication of the ALEC agenda to privatize public education and abolish the teaching profession.

Follow this template and your state will get the same performance as Louisiana and DC.

Michelle Rhee issued her report card for American education and now we know what she stands for: privatization of American public education.

States that endorse charter schools, for-profit schools, the parent trigger, school closings, vouchers and online for-profit charters get high marks from Rhee.

States that bust unions, take away teacher tenure, and use standardized tests to evaluate teachers get high marks from Rhee.

States that support public education and resist efforts to privatize their public schools get low marks, especially if they support teacher professionalism.

Her top two states are led by the nation’s most rightwing governors and legislatures: Louisiana and Florida.

Rhee has at last dropped the pretense of bipartisanship and shown that StudentsFirst is a branch of ALEC.

A reader from Oregon explains the destructive consequences of choice. School choice has been a goal of the right for decades and is now embraced by the Obama administration:

“For US education to thrive, charters must go.

“Some Win, Some Lose with Open Enrollment”. The headline in the Eugene, Oregon Register-Guard may seem like an occasion for joy to the winning school districts but, really, it is just terribly sad for all of us. Open enrollment across district lines is the latest and most extreme version of a school choice movement that is on a trajectory to split public education in two – one set of schools for the haves and the other for those left behind.

School choice is probably the most popular of the signature elements of the current school reform movement – and is there any reason why alternative and charter schools shouldn’t be popular? They house some of the best teachers and some of the most innovative programs; they have more opportunities for enrichment because they are exempt from many of the requirements faced by regular schools; and the parents are more involved and more able to donate time and money – the last not because they care more about their kids. Rather it is because the parents need to be able to provide transportation and often are required to agree to levels of involvement not possible for families without a car and a stay-at-home parent.

The result: one set of schools with wealthier, less diverse students and fewer kids with special needs; the other serving children more diverse in ethnicity, income and educational needs (with fewer resources and more requirements). Public education was supposed to be the great equalizer, an inclusive, welcoming place that gives all kids a chance to climb the ladder of success. But current trends create a de facto tracking system based on socioeconomic status.

Of course we’ve always had school choice. Through the 1960s the choice was public or private. Over the last few decades, however, public school districts created alternative and charter schools and encouraged them to draw their students from the surrounding neighborhood schools. In a Darwinian battle the schools would compete for students with the best schools thriving and good riddance to the losers. It is really hard to believe that school “reformers” didn’t foresee the result: the non-charters left with the most needy kids, fewer resources and, inevitably, failure.

The fact that public alternatives and charters have many good teachers and leaders and involved parents is, itself, the strongest argument against public charters and alternatives. Those are the very resources needed by neighborhood schools to make them what they need to be. And it isn’t even a zero-sum game – it’s negative-sum. Services are duplicated and shifting enrollments make long-range planning impossible.

The parents of students who choose schools outside their neighborhoods are not the problem – good parents will always look for the best available school for their children. The teachers and administrators in those schools are not the problem – many of them are among the best. The problem is the system that sends parents school shopping in the first place.

It is a system that takes advantage of the parental instinct to provide our children with the best possible education. You don’t have to be a public school hater to participate; school shopping has become a mark of good parenting for parents of all persuasions. “I can’t send my daughter to the neighborhood school,” said one mom recently. “Those parents aren’t involved.” And, sadly, what used to be a myth is creating a reality as parents like her opt out of their neighborhood schools.

If, as I suggest, we are to end most school choice, it is important to be sure that we are sending our kids to excellent neighborhood schools. To be honest, part of the reason parents have been so willing to drive their kids across town (or now to a different town) is that some neighborhood schools had become rigid, take-it-or-leave-it, hostile-to-change institutions. Parents with concerns or questions were considered pests. Though they can’t be all things to all people, our neighborhood schools need to be what many already are; nimble, responsive, welcoming neighborhood centers providing an outstanding education to all kids.

The successful innovations that charter and alternative schools have devised wouldn’t be wasted. They – including language immersion – can and should be applied in the neighborhood schools. And charters and alternatives that step up to meet the needs of high school students when regular high schools are unable to do so should be allowed to keep working with, rather than competing against, the mainstream schools.

It is a cliché that if you are attacked from both sides of an issue, you are probably correct. But school “reform” seems to call for a corollary: if there is agreement on an issue from both sides of the aisle, it must be wrong. It is truly mind-boggling that free-market educational policies – so obviously counterproductive, ineffective and unsustainable – are supported by both Democrats and Republicans. The deck may be stacked against us but if we are truly committed to equity, diversity and efficiency in our public schools we’ll need keep working to convince officials, parents and educators that it is essential that we stop this suicidal intra- and inter-district competition, phase out school shopping and bring back new and improved versions of the centers of our neighborhoods – our schools.

Jim Watson, Eugene, Oregon

This is a message for corporate reformers from Katie Osgood.

I hope it will be read carefully by the folks at Democrats for Education Reform, Stand for Children, ALEC, Teach for America, Education Reform Now, StudentsFirst, the Gates Foundation, the Walton Foundation, the Broad Foundation, the Dell Foundation, Bellweather Partners, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, the Heartland Institute, the NewSchools Venture Fund, and, of course, the U.S. Department of Education.

Please forgive me if I inadvertently left your name off the list of the reform movement. If I did, read it anyway.

Katie Osgood teaches children in a psychiatric hospital in Chicago. She knows a lot about how children fail, how they suffer, and how our institutions and policies fail them.

Please read her short essay. Help it go viral if you can.


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