Wednesday, May 23, 2012

ALEC’s Legislative Agenda on Education

On American Legislative Exchange Council task forces, corporate lobbyists and special interests vote as equals with elected representatives on templates to change our laws, behind closed doors with no press or public allowed to see the votes or deliberations. ALEC’s education legislation diverts taxpayers’ money from American public school children to for-profit education corporations, strips away the rights of teachers and their ability to negotiate strongly for small class sizes and other practices that help children learn better, and gives more tax breaks to rich corporations and individuals to pay private school tuition, among other things that undermine America’s proud tradition of investing in our future through investing in excellent public education for all of America’s children. ALEC’s education task force has long been chaired by a private school corporation.

Funding Private Schools and Private Profits with the Public’s Money

·      ALEC’s “Family Education Tax Credit Program” creates a tax credit for paying private primary or secondary school tuition and fees. It would also create a tax credit for corporations and individuals that give money to be used as “scholarships” to pay tuition and fees at private schools. This also reduces tax revenue for public services.

·      ALEC’s “Parent Choice Scholarship Program Act-Universal Eligibility” creates a voucher program to use taxpayer funds that would be spent on public schools to subsidize private for-profit, religious, or other primary and secondary schools. This program has no income limit for subsid and therefore all students would be eligible.

·      ALEC’s “Parental Choice Scholarship Accountability Act” helps enable taxpayer money to be used to subsidize for-profit, religious, or other private schools.

·      ALEC’s “Education Enterprise Zone Act” creates a voucher program to subsidize private schools with taxpayer money.

·      ALEC’s “Education Accountability Act” allows a state to override the elected school board, declare schools “educationally bankrupt,” and divert funds to private schools.

Tipping the Scales in Favor of Charter Schools Over Public School Innovations

·      ALEC’s “Charter Schools Act” would allow the state to grant charters to create and operate schools outside of traditional public schools, while also exempting these charter schools from state laws that apply to public schools.

·      ALEC’s “Next Generation Charter Schools Act” allows state taxpayers to subsidize charter schools that compete with public schools, while exempting charter schools from complying with many legal standards and requirements that govern public schools.

·      ALEC’s “Resolution Supporting Private Scholarship Tax Credits” urges more tax cuts for corporations and individuals to subsidize for-profit corporate schools through funding “scholarships.”

Advancing Other Controversial Proposals
·      ALEC’s “Virtual Public Schools Act” requires virtual or online education company courses to be recognized as public schools and require that such companies receive the same per pupil funding as traditional schools that provide classrooms, sports training facilities, lunch, and transportation, resulting in windfall profits for online “schools.”

·      ALEC’s “Parent Trigger Act” would allow a small group of parents to close public school for current and future students, and turn the school into a charter school or require the state to use taxpayer dollars for vouchers to subsidize private tuition.

·      ALEC’s “Resolution Supporting the Principles of No Child Left Behind” supports the Bush Administration’s controversial effort of  using expanded testing of limited subjects as a way to claim public schools are failing and also to effectively limit the teaching of important life skills and other educationally enriching topics not subject to testing.

·      ALEC’s “Common Sense in Medicating Students Act” prohibits any school personnel from even recommending medication for any troubled child to parents, even if the school has experts on staff experienced in making such non-binding recommendations.

Attacking Teachers and Undermining the Power to Negotiate to Help Students

·      ALEC’s “Great Teachers and Leaders Act” changes tenure rules for teachers and allows tenure to be revoked based on limited measures of success without regard to underlying conditions in the schools or environment.

·      ALEC’s “Teacher Choice Compensation Act” requires teachers to opt out of union contracts in order to be eligible for performance-based salary stipends.

·      ALEC’s “Public School Employee Union Release Time Act” attempts to overturn negotiated agreements that allow for certain union activities to be compensated.

·      ALEC’s “Alternative Certification Act” attempts to allow students to be taught by people who have no training in how to teach children and the different ways kids learn at various ages and based on different learning styles. This paves the way for for-profit schools to pay “teachers” less than educators who are actually trained in teaching.

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