Why ALEC Fabricated Public School Failures (And Why We’re Not Surprised)

ALEC vs. Kids: ALEC’s Assault on Public Education. That’s the alarmingly accurate title of a new report that focuses on how the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) education task force has used a state-by-state report card to fabricate failure in state public education systems in order to create sales opportunities for their corporate membership.

ALEC – All About Favoring Corporations

ALEC was formed in 1973 by a group of conservative activists who came together to advance a national right wing agenda in state legislatures across the country. They do this by coordinating and connecting corporate special interests, insurance companies, lobbyists, right wing think tanks, the super rich and conservative state legislators.

They then produce model policies on issues affecting many facets of American life, with the goal of making conditions as favorable to corporations as possible. The group is behind just about every bad Republican initiative, including union-busting, Voter ID and Stand Your Ground gun laws that helped George Zimmerman go free after murdering an unarmed Trayvon Martin.

Recently the conservative lobbying group has found its way into the previously untapped market of public education by producing an education “report card.” And the 2013 result is not a pretty sight.

Report Full Of “Shoddy” Research

Professor Christopher Lubienski and doctoral candidate T. Jameson Brewer, both of the University of Illinois, reviewed the document:

The ALEC report card¯ assigns its grades based on states’ policies regarding their support for charter schools, their implementation of school voucher plans, and the permissiveness they display toward homeschooling.

The authors contend that these grades are based on “high quality” research demonstrating that the policies for which they award high grades will improve education for all students,¯ Lubienski and Jameson write. Instead, the report card draws on the work of advocacy groups and is grounded in ideological tenets, leading the authors to assign high grades to states with unproven and even disproven market-based policies, the reviewers add. They point out that the authors’ claims of a growing body of research¯ lacks citations; their grading system contradicts testing data that they report; and their data on alternative teacher research is simply wrong.¯

In fact, the research ALEC highlights is quite shoddy and is unsuitable for supporting its recommendations,¯ Lubienski and Jameson conclude. The report’s purpose appears to be more about shifting control of education to private interests than in improving education.

Virginia is one of the nine states profiled in the report. Here’s what happened there:

Putting Profits Before Children

Governor Bob McDonnell received tens of thousands of dollars in campaign donations from virtual learning company K12 Inc., and promptly requested the introduction of ALEC model legislation to expand virtual education in 2010.

It passed in the Virginia legislature, and K12 Inc. swung into action in Carroll County, one of the state’s most impoverished counties, to maximize the public money it would receive. Even when the school board voted to close K12 Inc. down because it did worse than traditional schools on 20 out of 22 measures, Virginia legislators with ALEC connections enacted a law in 2012 requiring high school students to take an online course to graduate.

71 Bills Based On ALEC ‘Models’

ALEC’s ‘model’ bills are making their way into state legislatures, as in Virginia, and they are dangerous.

Currently, at least 71 bills introduced in 2013 that make it harder for average Americans to access the civil justice system resemble ‘models’ from ALEC, according to an analysis by the Center for Media and Democracy.

These are bills that would weaken the legal rights of people who are wrongfully harmed by a corporation. Not surprisingly, given the interests of ALEC, they are bills designed to provide protection for the industries who wrote them, by changing the rules to limit accountability when a corporation’s products or actions cause injury or death.

Even though the marriage of big business and education is not unheard of — for example, the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) provided billions of dollars in profits to corporate clients through dubious processes of testing and assessment and supplemental educational services instead of delivering equal access to public education to millions of American children — we cannot sit back complacently.

We need to kick ALEC out of education, and indeed, out of our lives.

Photo from Thinkstock


Jim Ven
Jim Ven5 months ago

thanks for the article.

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown3 years ago

Regarding the fallacy that "illegals" are costing the U.S. money, please see the following.


Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown3 years ago

How come every dingbat who hates unions has some half-assesd, clearly made up, anecdotal story about "some guy he knows, blah, blah, blah..."?

Nick Andrews
Nico Smart3 years ago

NAFTA sucks for these USA, but is great for the Mexican government and corporations, who can send their crappy, dangerous trucks here now freely. It has sent jobs outside our borders. I feel about as bad for Mexican farm workers as I do for US family farmers who are being squeezed out by scum like Walmart and Monsanto, well a bit less since they are not our guys. Mexico is hell and not a viable country now, thanks to the cartel madness which lefties seem all too eager to blame on us. So let's legalize pot but execute heroin smugglers, since it is natural, and grow hemp for fiber. Better than cotton supposedly.

Maybe not all corporations are overtaxed, but the small one I work for (8 people) damn sure is. I can't claim to have a one size fits all answer because there isn't one. But yes, most big-union workers are overpaid and undertrained. I can't count how many so-called 'equipment operators' we had to send back to the union hall in Denver who were barely competent to drive a backhoe off a trailer. Again, not a blanket truth but it's the same as corporations, the bigger they are the more corrupt. With modern tech like 3D printing and the electronic marketplace, things are changing fast and business models have to evolve. Opportunity for small producers is coming back in many areas, but will be fought by the uber-corps you detest and I don't trust any more...

Nick Andrews
Nico Smart3 years ago

No, I have been out of work for about three weeks only, back in 2006. But I do work for a small woman-owned company struggling to get by. We are incorporated in the state, and the owner and her husband end up paying ridiculous tax rates on their personal returns based on corp revenue. At least they don't get hit twice (as corp then personal). But it racks their personal rates up sky high even though they do not take home big money. We all took a 15% pay cut for 9 months to keep the doors open back during the first bailout scheme Obama foisted on the world when defense programs were not spending money due to budget limbo and the housing market fell. But I haven't had a raise in at least 5 years, and the failure of the White House to get a budget has screwed up spending at government facilities where we do a lot of design and construction work. And I see the ridiculous waste in efforts to be seen as 'green' or 'conserving energy' where it makes no sense.

I don't listen to bloated druggie Rush, non matter how much every leftie assumes everyone who disagrees with them on one or more things claims they do. FOX News, while more reliable than the other major networks, is hardly genuine journalism. I only ever watch some of the local news stations, not the national crap. It's sad when Al-Jazeera can more accurately report basic news than our own networks. BBC is okay sometimes.

NAFTA sucks for these USA, but is great for the Mexican government and corporations, who c

Nick Andrews
Nico Smart3 years ago

As for the planet, I agree that something must be done if we are to maintain any sort of standard of living. Human population cannot be maintained at this level of growth, period.

I don't blame Obama for the so-called ACA, which has caused my health insurance rates to double before it even goes into effect. I do blame all of Congress for passing an absurdly large and bloated piece of legislation without even reading it, and BO for signing it, again without reading it. Pelosi made the dumbest comment ever about having to pass it to see what is in it. Really? Not sure how we care for all at reasonable cost, but why did they feel the need to lie to us that costs would go down when that is clearly NOT going to happen? And no, government control of my health care decisions is not acceptable.

I think Obama is more of a Soviet-style Communist masquerading as a socialist to make his platform more palatable. But his behavior clearly does not fit into one box, socialist, fascist, communist, nazi, democrat, etc. Too erratic and secretive. We can ignore all of the 'but he's a Moslem' crap too. We are not going to have Sharia law in these USA. Not sure what folks are afraid of.

No, I have been out of work for about three weeks only, back in 2006. But I do work for a small woman-owned company struggling to get by. We are incorporated in the state, and the owner and her husband end up paying ridiculous tax rates on their personal returns based on corp revenue. At leas

Nick Andrews
Nico Smart3 years ago

Hello Dave, I haven't said anything bigoted either. Simply because one group has not experienced what many others have does not mean that those who have seen the problems firsthand or the facts themselves are bigoted. Not even sure to what you refer, but reading the rest of this comment maybe it's about the illegals flooding the workforce here near the border? I live 40 miles from Mexico and have seen it my whole life. Sure, there are fewer in Denver, where I lived twice for 8 months and then 3 years, or in Tampa, where I lived in 2004. I had guys working for me who were great guys and good workers who I am sure were illegals because they hinted at possibly not being able to get back after going home for holidays. One guy was from Guatemala, not Mexico! Great guys who would share their food. Believe it or not, there is no good Mexican food restaurant in Tampa. Cuban, sure, but not even close to the same. But the illegals here in NM flood emergency services, slowing down treatment at the ER because they just go there for every little cold. If they are working for checks and having taxes deducted like I am, then they deserve to benefit from the things paid for by those in the short term. They pay the same gas taxes for the roads, but few have insurance and thus cause my vehicle insurance rates to be higher. This is not bigoted, it is simply fact.

As for the planet, I agree that something must be done if we are to maintain any sort of standard of living. Human p

Cletus W.
Cletus W.3 years ago

Dave E. -- It seems there's not much we disagree on. But I do think your statement to Nick: "you occasionally say things that make sense, and are aware that some major changes must occur in the way we treat our planet" gives too much credit to the purposefully ignorant and the intellectually challenged. I know it was just a thrown bone, followed by a snap on his snout, but it still didn't sit right.

Nick might have shown all the brilliance of a stopped clock, which is found to be correct twice a day; but few people feel the need to celebrate the accuracy of such a clock.

For the reasons you yourself have pointed out to him, and for his snarling rejection of the education you and others have offered him, Nick is nothing more than a repugnant, knee-jerk drama queen who feasts unapologetically at the teats of the rightwing underbelly.

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown3 years ago

It always amazes me how the right wing will defend a multimillion dollar salary for a corporate executive, yet show them a union factory worker making a decent wage and they crap their pants and start screaming about people being paid too much.

Why is it that the right hates working and middle class Americans?

Robert H.
Robert Hamm3 years ago

The management LOVED thos big wages Nick. Because THEY got the raises and benefits too.

WE CANT make everyone happy and the corproations dont give a crap if anyone is happy. They want massive profit and as little competition as they can possibly have. Thats why I laugh when people say free markets will fix everything, We will never have free markets again as long as all these corprs are too big to fail. They control the show now and have decided that they wont be dragging the rest of the world to our level they will bring us down. At some time in the future most of the world will be living somehwat the same. Our liberties and control will be gone and we will work for whatever they say we will work for. They didcatate TO the government right now to a large degree. Yes there are still regulations and taxation.

They are working on getting rid of that too. Everyone wants the good stuff that makes Ameirca what it used to be. No one however wants to pay for it now. And corproations have no desire to pay for the infrastructure that makes their business possible because they cut deals that undercut the whole process. No one with REAL answers can get to the top where we can vote for them. WE get to pick from who THEY picked for us to look at. There is no simple answer anymore Nick. The problems are very complex and intertwined. Yes we need a better way to tax. But so far the proposals are we little people pay more while they cut more and more from us in the w