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In Her Element: US Ed Sec Betsy DeVos to be ALEC Guest Speaker

June 13, 2017

On June 06, 2017, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) announced that US secretary of education Betsy DeVos will an ALEC featured speaker at its Denver conference in July 2017:

  Betsy DeVos

ALEC is pleased to announce that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos will be joining us for our 44th Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado.

“Secretary DeVos has been a stalwart champion of educational choice in the states, elevating the outcry over the status quo to the highest levels of government,” said Inez Stepman, Education and Workforce Development Task Force Director.

DeVos is serving as the 11th United States Secretary of Education. She was confirmed by the Senate on February 7, 2017. Secretary DeVos has been involved in education policy for nearly three decades as an advocate for children and a voice for parents.

DeVos served as an in-school mentor for at-risk children in the Grand Rapids, Michigan Public Schools for 15 years.

Don’t miss your chance to hear Secretary DeVos speak and all of our great speakers at our annual meeting July 19-21 in Denver, Colorado. Register here.

My first public radio interview related to education reform issues was in 2012, and it focused on ALEC. Since that time, I have written extensively about ALEC, both on my blog and in my first book, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who in the Implosion of American Public Education.

I realize that a number of individuals who read my blog might not be familiar with ALEC; so, I would like to offer two resources here to enable readers to school themselves on the subject.

The first is this July 2013 blog post entitled, “The Time That ALEC Got It Right.” The post includes a useful yet brief background summary of ALEC as well as ALEC’s actions regarding the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) push. You see, ALEC first opposed CCSS but then was persuaded to go against its own anti-CCSS resolution by CCSS supporter, Jeb Bush.

An excerpt:

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has been in existence since the days I was learning to write using a fat pencil. (I turn 46 this week.) ALEC advocates for “limited government,” “federalism” and “free market principles.” These terms sound lofty and noble until one realizes that all this means is that ALEC is opposed to the federal government telling states what to do and that it desires for corporations to profit handsomely.  Usually, these two ALEC goals compliment each other; instead of the federal government regulating state legislation, ALEC has forced its mammoth way into statehouses via its “model legislation,” which is designed to siphon public money into the already-overflowing corporate tank.

ALEC was able to operate virtually unnoticed for decades. In April 2012, the citizens lobbying group Common Cause filed a whistleblower complaint on ALEC with the IRS; ALEC had indicated on some of its tax forms that it did not chiefly engage in lobbying, when in truth, all that ALEC does is lobby for big business by connecting its legislative members with its corporate members so that the legislators might promote ALEC’s pro-privatization “model legislation” in statehouses nationwide.

Once ALEC was exposed to public view, its members, both corporate and legislative, began to drop out of ALEC. The legislators choosing to leave were almost exclusively Democrats. They were by far the minority; ALEC legislative membership is chiefly Republican.

ALEC’s self-serving legislation came back upon the group with a vengance when an unarmed Florida teenager, Trayvon Martin, was fatally shot by Neighborhood Watch captain George Zimmerman; the public soon discovered that the 2005 law enabling Zimmerman to shoot Martin, Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, was being promoted by ALEC as “model legislation” across the nation. Numerous other unarmed individuals have died as a result of this law, introduced to ALEC by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and supported by the corporation garnering the largest profits from gun sales, WalMart.

The remainder of the above post is an intriguing read because in CCSS, ALEC’s federalism alliance clashed with its love for corporate coffers.

Of course, in Betsy DeVos, ALEC has a woman more than willing to deregulate a wide path leading from USDOE to the corporate-profiteering doorstep. Thus, no conflict.

The second ALEC reading I wish to offer in this posy is my chapter on ALEC from my aforementioned book, A Chronicle of Echoes. The book is 24 chapters on key individuals and organizations related to market-driven ed reform, some of whom have fallen away since the book was published in April 2014. Even so, A Chronicle of Echoes provides a solid foundation in the corporate ed reform war on the neighborhood public school.

ALEC is one such organization, and a far-reaching one, at that.

Below is how my chapter on ALEC opens:

If the education reform movement were reduced to a single organization, that organization would be the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC has existed for decades and is omnipresent in reformer circles, yet this colossal engine for privatization has managed to elude exposure until 2012. Though it might seem incredulous, through its membership, ALEC is present in every chapter in this book. Make no mistake: Privatization belongs to ALEC.

ALEC was formally organized in September 1973 in Chicago, Illinois, and received its 501(c)3, “nonprofit” designation in 1977. ALEC describes itself as, “a nonpartisan membership association for conservative state lawmakers who shared a common belief in limited government, free markets, federalism, and individual liberty.” Founders include Illinois Representative Henry Hyde; “Moral Majority” founder Paul Weyrich, and 1968 Reagan campaigner Lou Barnett. Other ALEC formative-years members included Robert Kasten, Tommy Thompson, John Kasich, John Engler, Terry Branstad, “all of whom moved on to become governors or members of Congress.” The ALEC roster also included state senators John Buckley and Jesse Helms, and state representatives Phil Crane and Jack Kemp.

From inception, ALEC was powerful. And for the most part, it kept its business to itself.

In April 2012, the public interest group, Common Cause, had just released information about a mammoth lobbying group that somehow had maintained a low profile for decades under the guise of a nonprofit (its official registration) but that had been lobbying extensively for conservative legislation in a number of areas, including education.  On April 20, 2012, Common Cause officially filed a whistleblower complaint on ALEC with the IRS alleging that even though as a nonprofit ALEC was allowed to spend a maximum of five percent of its money on lobbying activity, ALEC’s primary mission was that of lobbying, and that is where most of its spending was (and is) directed.

According to documents released as part of the Freedom of Information (FOIA) and Public Records Acts (PRA), what Common Cause reveals as ALEC’s “scheme” was exposed before a disbelieving public. In short, what ALEC does is bring together corporations and legislators, compose or endorse what it considers as proposed “model” legislation (that which is designed to yield profits for the corporations), vote by ALEC Task Force committee to “adopt” the model legislation, then instruct legislators on how to pass the legislation in their respective statehouses.

To view the remainder of this 7,300-word chapter, click here:

A Chronicle of Echoes–ALEC chapter

When you read it, think of Betsy DeVos addressing ALEC in Denver in July 2017.

She will be in her element.

____________________________________________________________

Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

7 Comments
  1. ALEC • Your Unelected Shadow Government At Work

  2. Thanks for the exposé: the extremely frightening phenomenon of having powerful anti-public legislation passed state by state by state — bypassing any need to work at the federal level — has been very methodically crippling our democracy. ALEC must be fully and punitively exposed; there is no other way for our nation to move away from its paralyzing grip.

  3. Laura H. Chapman permalink

    For readers of this blog, get the books Mercedes has written and get updates on the scope of ALEC’s work in and beyond education here. http://www.alecexposed.org/wiki/Privatizing_Public_Education,_Higher_Ed_Policy,_and_Teachers

  4. Mercedes et al…here is the latest on how Repubs are treating a Dem Senator of Color. Just sent this to the LA Times and to my contacts…hope others do the same.

    Please everyone…write the media today complaining about their continuing to libel Senator Kamala Harris as being “hysterical” in her questioning the witnesses, particularly Sessions yesterday. She is a trained and highly skilled prosecutor and our revered Senator and these Republican MEN are terrified she might run for President in 2020. She has gained international fame for her astute legal questioning. She refuses to be deterred by witnesses obfuscation and hyperbole, and she continues to quietly and with dignity and assertiveness press them for answers to her questions. If she was a male, she never would have been interrupted and reprimanded by McCain who has NO standing as only a guest in these hearings, and by Chairman Burr, the Republican leader. If you watched the entire hearings you will see how she comports herself with dignity, assertiveness, and learned legal questioning, and you will see the truly rude and aggressive questioning by some of the Dem male Senators including but not limited to Wyden and King. Yet Harris was singled out by McCain and Burr as the only Dem Senator to insult her and chastise her…TWICE. They clearly want to silence her voice.

    This protest must be carried to the media and to the nation and the world. If we do not protest, they will continue to attack and defame Harris and try to break her as a Presidential candidate.

    My letter to the LA Times is below.

    Ellen

    —–Original Message—–
    From: Ellen Lubic
    To: letters
    Sent: Wed, Jun 14, 2017 2:15 pm
    Subject: Regarding calling Senator Kamala Harris “hysterical”

    Republicans Are Running Scared

    Twice in recent Congressional hearings re Sessions and Comey, invited guest Senator McCain, who has no status to comment or question, interrupted only Senator Kamala Harris, a well trained legal prosecutor and former Attorney General of California, as she questioned the witness. Harris quietly and with legal determination repeatedly asked AG Sessions if he had “read” a printed rule that said he was exempt from answering questions about his conversations with Trump. He continually gave long rambling obfuscations not addressing this issue, but rather talked about principles. Harris, under the five minute time constraint allowed, and as any lawyer would do, tried to keep him on subject. McCain loudly interrupted her and twice calling her “rude” and the Chair Burr reprimanded her. Many think King, Wyden and others were far louder and aggressive in their questioning yet they were not called names nor stopped in their questioning. And now, seemingly afraid of Harris and her unique prosecutorial ability, and her possible run for President in 2020, she has been labeled “hysterical” It is shameful that your reporter continues the libel that she was “hysterical” as these Republicans have put forth. Educated, successful, and assertive women have faced this same accusation of hysteria throughout history, so the LA Times should know better than to continue this libel to our well respected junior Senator from California who comports herself with great intelligence, dignity, and determination.

    Ellen Lubic

  5. Reblogged this on Crazy Normal – the Classroom Exposé and commented:
    ALEC wants to be America’s autocratic shadow government. ALEC does not respect democracy.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Mercedes Schneider: Betsy and ALEC, Perfect Together | Diane Ravitch's blog
  2. Ed News, Friday, June 16, 2017 Edition | tigersteach

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