See the message below from a PAA member in Texas, Karen Miller. Karen is forwarding information about William Cronon, a noted historian at UW-Madison, who wrote about ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative organization backed by business interests that circulates draft legislation in every state capital, including anti-union legislation approved in Wisconsin.
In retaliation, Cronon has now had his emails FOILed by the Wisconsin GOP party.
As Karen points out, ALEC has a number of damaging education model bills, including legislation promoting the spread of virtual schools (a tremendous profit potential for entrepreneurs, including Joel Klein and Rupert Murdoch) and “Parent Trigger” legislation, already passed in California to encourage the proliferation of charter schools. The “Parent Trigger” was originally developed and promoted by the so-called “Parent Revolution” group, started by Eli Broad and Steve Barr, formerly of Green Dot charters. Steve Barr, now disassociated from Green Dot, is leading a high-profile campaign to convert more NYC schools to charters.
Though a NY Times editorial about Cronon that will run tomorrow calls ALEC “unmatched by the left,” on many education issues, the goals of ALEC are aligned not only with openly conservative groups like the Fordham Foundation, Democrats for Education Reform, Education Reform Now, Michelle Rhee’s Students First and Jonah Edelman’s Stand for Children, but also many of the supposedly more moderate or even “liberal” DC think tanks, including Center for American Progress, Education Sector and Education Trust.
Not coincidentally, these groups are all heavily financed by the Gates, Broad and Walton Foundations – and are pushing for the same anti-union, pro-privatization education agendas at the national, state and local levels.
Check out PAA’s position paper opposing “The Parent Trigger”.
Parents should be aware of the vast influence of an organization that UW-Madison professor (and president-elect of the American Historical Association), William Cronon, has written about on his blog, and the sharp response from the Wisconsin GOP.
“In that post, as part of his effort to understand the historical roots of the nationally coordinated state-level legislative attack on unions, Cronon focused his spotlight on a relatively under-the-radar group called the American Legislative Exchange Council.” (Read Salon’s account of the Republican Party open records request for his emails.)
ALEC has a number of education model bills, e.g. vouchers, tax credits, virtual schools, autism / preK scholarships, and now the Parent trigger. I don’t know who wrote the latter, but the virtual schools bill was written by k12, inc and Connections Academy, online for-profit education management companies.
The analog to ALEC, is the relatively new Progressive States Network, which until a week or two ago, was chaired by Texas State Rep Garnet Coleman D-Houston, noted for his expertise in health issues. There’s also a new executive director who most recently headed the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance.
See Cronon’s latest entry here; I do hope that people investigate ALEC’s tentacles further.
–Karen Miller, PAA member, Texas