Secretive Group Seeks to Privatize Public Education

Family Matters on 06.06.12
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Earlier this year I wrote about how science educators were defending themselves from politically motivated attacks over the topic of climate change. It's been shown that these attacks have been coordinated, in part, by the American Legislative Exchange Council's (ALEC) efforts to push science teachers to teach climate denial through "model" legislation which was then introduced through local legislators around the country, without ever declairing their affiliation to ALEC. 

ALEC, which acts as an interface between corporate interests and legislators around the country, has been hitting the news for other reasons of late. From supporting the stand-your-grounds laws in Florida that were implicated in Trayvon Martin's death, to pushing for voter ID laws that many argue will discourage poor and minority voters from making their voice heard, ALEC has raised the hackles of many progressive groups. And the resulting outcry has lead to major funders from Wal-Mart and Coca Cola to Kraft leaving the group.

Now the battle lines seem drawn on another issue that many voters care deeply and passionately about - education. Campaigners from ALEC Exposed claim that ALEC is working hard to privatize the entire public school system:

Through ALEC, corporations, ideologues, and their politician allies voted to spend public tax dollars to subsidize private K-12 education and attack professional teachers and teachers' unions by promoting voucher programs that drain public schools of resources by using taxpayer dollars to subsidize private school profits, and specifying that those schools must remain unregulated.

The idea, say campaigners, is to push a whole variety of bills that are labeled as "pro choice" and "free market", which essentially funnel tax payer money away from the public school system and into the hands of private enterprises. 

Of course the public versus private school debate is an ongoing discussion here on Parentables, and while Amy has made a passionate case for why she sent her kids to a "bad" public school, there are plenty of people who decide that their local public school does not meet their needs. 

The issue here is not whether parents should have choice - but rather how do we manage choice within a system while ensuring we don't drain already struggling schools of cash, and without creating a new form of segregation in the process. Here's UW-Madison School of Education Dean Julie Underwood on why every parent should be concerned about the ALEC education agenda. 

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