ALEC Hunkers Down As Sponsors Run, But Untold Damage Has Already Been Done

Poor, poor ALEC. They're being victimized, don't you know? Wednesday they went into full damage control mode even as more corporate donors bailed out on them. The list now includes Wendy's, Intuit, McDonalds, Coke, Pepsi, Kraft Foods and the Gates Foundation. More on the Gates Foundation in a minute.

On Wednesday, ALEC bleated out a statement, complaining that they're just a little non-profit organization whose sole purpose is to help businesses turn a bit of a profit, don't you know? And they're being victimized by those mean, nasty lefty types.

From their statement:

ALEC is an organization that supports pro-growth, pro-jobs policies and the vigorous exchange of ideas between the public and private sector to develop state based solutions. Today, we find ourselves the focus of a well-funded, expertly coordinated intimidation campaign.

Our members join ALEC because we connect state legislators with other state legislators and with job-creators in their states. They join because we support pro-business policies that promote innovation and spur local and national competitiveness. They’re ALEC members because they’re more interested in solutions than rhetoric.

For years, ALEC has partnered with legislators to research and develop better, more effective public policies – legislation that creates a more transparent, accountable government, policies that place a priority on free enterprise and consumer choice, and tax policies that are fair, simple and that spur the kind of competiveness that puts Americans back to work.

Somebody's going to have to explain to me how Stand Your Ground laws and Voter ID laws help create jobs. That's left me scratching my head. How is it that laws which blatantly discriminate against people of color and have absolutely nothing to do with jobs create jobs? And then there's abortion legislation. What does abortion legislation have to do with job creation?

As to their so-called free enterprise and consumer choice policies, let's look at one area where they're working hard to interfere: education. And let's bring the Gates Foundation back into focus on this one. The Gates Foundation has now declared they will not give any further grants to ALEC. Slow clap for the Gates Foundation.

I'm not particularly impressed because there are 17 months remaining on the grant they've already given ALEC for "education reform"; specifically, to:

Purpose: to educate and engage its membership on more efficient state budget approaches to drive greater student outcomes, as well as educate them on beneficial ways to recruit, retain, evaluate and compensate effective teaching based upon merit and achievement

Now let's look at what kinds of "state budget approaches" are currently driving student reforms that specifically point back to ALEC. There is the Virtual Public Schools Act, which would send public funds to private companies hosting virtual schools, like K12, Inc, which receives large contributions from the DeVos Foundation and the Walton Foundation, just to name a few. There is the Innovation Schools Act, which would come in the back door by first mandating modernization with an eye to implementation of online learning.

Of course, it's not lost on me that Bill Gates might have a tiny outside interest in seeing virtual schools take off, right? And not only Bill Gates. K12, Inc. is a member of ALEC and also an online school provider, one that's quite expensive, too. And K12 has a deep vested interest in having virtual schools become a deeply integrated part of students' education.

Here's what they've achieved so far. Virginia just passed a mandatory online education law, requiring that every student in Virginia's public schools take at least one course online. Requiring. Mandating. That's right, those conservatives are mandating one online course for every student who wants a diploma from Virginia schools. And as the Washington Post reports, K12 was Johnny-on-the-spot when it passed, waiting to pounce into the pool of money the Virginia legislature just set aside.

It isn't just Virginia. It's Florida, Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia, Indiana and Arizona, too.

There's only one reason to mandate students take one online course, and that's to cut back on teachers in the classroom, weakening them further. It's one thing to make online learning available and another to use it as a bludgeon to union-bust and try and render teachers' roles irrelevant, which seems to clearly be the goal here.

As ALEC whines and twirls in a strange dance of damage control, remember that the Stand Your Ground law that triggered the corporate exodus from them is only the tip of the iceberg. They have done grave harm to many states and most people. Whether it's education, Voter ID, health care, guns, or taxes, ALEC is the author of far too much turnkey legislation with deep and barbarous cuts to those institutions we hold dear in this country, like schools, and hospitals, and public streets. They deserve no sympathy, nor quarter. They should be accountable for each and every evil they have wrought on states and people who live in them, and those who sponsor their efforts should be equally accountable, even those who claim to have noble motives, like the Gates Foundation.


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