How are corporations undermining K-12 public education in these bills?
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:
To see a full list of these bills, click here
- 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. Voucher programs have been pushed in the following ways:
- Evading requirements under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) by preying on parents of children with special needs through subsidies for unproven and profit-driven private schools, which are not covered by the IDEA. (See this bill, this bill, and this bill.) Nearly identical bills have been introduced in Wisconsin and other states.
- Segregating students with disabilities from non-disabled students by incentivizing the creation of largely unregulated private schools for students with disabilities, and then allowing private schools to refuse children's admission such that the private testing/evaluation scores can be higher than for public schools that must take all students.
- Setting up low-income students for failure in college by incentivizing early graduation for the students in need of a complete high school education.
- Taking charter school authorization away from local school boards in favor of a statewide advisory committee, that a governor can pack with pro-voucher people.
- Promoting climate change denial in education (see also this bill)
- Certifying individuals with no education background as teachers, a move that would weaken the quality of education, that fails to recognize there is more to teaching than knowledge of a subject, and that would undermine the role and competitiveness of professional teachers (see also this bill).
- Eliminating tenure for teachers in favor of "performance," allowing districts to fire older teachers in favor of lower-cost young teachers.
- Undermining teacher's unions indirectly through the above bills, and directly through bills like this one, this one, and this one. See also the anti-union bills on the Worker Rights page.
ALEC bills and resolutions also attempt to change college education by:
To see a full list of these bills, click here.
This information is available to download as a two-page fact sheet here.
Some of this corporate agenda has already become law
Undermining Protections for Students With Disabilities
The ALEC Special Needs Scholarship Act
has been introduced in Wisconsin as AB 110
by Rep. Michelle Litjens, and co-sponsored in the Senate by Leah Vukmir, who was an ALEC "Legislator of the Year" in 2009.
The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction said:
This bill strips special education students of due process rights and rights to services. It allows for the segregation of students based on disability. It will devastate funding for public education in select districts. It will result in the largest expansion of private school regulation ever seen in Wisconsin and, at the end of the day, no one will have any data to show if it resulted in a better education.
To read more about this story, click here or here or here.
The "Voucher" Strategy and Requiring Tax Subsidies for Private For-Profit Schools
For almost 20 years, a top priority item for ALEC has been the privatization of public schools through school vouchers. Like many ALEC efforts, this one was first implemented in Wisconsin. ALEC has dozens of bills related to this topic, along with books and analysis. in 1993, ALEC gave its first "Adam Smith Free Enterprise Award" to school privatization advocate and funder Richard DeVos. In the early 1990s, under the leadership of longtime ALEC member Tommy Thompson, Wisconsin was the first state in the nation to implement a voucher program using public funds to send children to private schools. This experiment was limited to low-income students in the Milwaukee School District. Although recent tests have revealed that voucher students performed worse in math and reading than public school students, ideological proponents of privatization are nonetheless pushing to expand the Milwaukee program to other areas of the state, as well as to higher-income families.
Tracking the ALEC school voucher agenda, Governor Walker's 2011 Wisconsin budget expanded voucher schools throughout Milwaukee County and to the Racine school district, lifted the cap on participation, and increased income eligibility to 300% of the federal poverty level. Other ALEC-originated school choice bills are also in the works for Wisconsin, including the Charter School Reform Bill (AB 51-SB 22) and the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (AB 94). To learn more, click here.
Have any of these bills been introduced or enacted in YOUR state?
For an updated look at ALEC's education agenda in Wisconsin, see the Center for Media and Democracy's in-depth report, "ALEC Exposed in Wisconsin: The Hijacking of a State."
This information is available for download as a one-page fact sheet here.
Julie Underwood on ALEC & Education
Watch Julie Underwood, the eighth dean of the UW-Madison School of Education, discuss ALEC's school privatization agenda.
Watch other ALEC Exposed experts here.
Read Julie Underwood's article in The Nation here.
READ the "Model Bills" HERE