Increasing Profits for School Companies, Undermining Teachers, and Promoting "Conservatives" on Campus
This page reveals how ALEC bills would privatize public education, crush teacher's unions, and push American universities to the right. Among other things, these bills make education a private commodity rather than a public good, and reverse America’s modern innovation of promoting learning and civic virtue through public schools staffed with professional teachers for children from all backgrounds. Through ALEC, corporations have both a VOICE and a VOTE on specific state laws to change the American education system. Do you?
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:
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.
Treating universities like manufacturers and setting aside significant portions of the legislature's higher education budget to reward institutions for students who complete courses and graduate in greater numbers at lower per-unit expense.
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.
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?