Do a Google search of American Legislative Exchange Council and education, and a name that keeps coming up is Brendan Fischer, who wrote a number of articles about ALEC while with the Center for Media and Democracy.
In a 2016 article, Fischer wrote:
“ALEC’s education task force has pushed legislation for decades to privatize public schools, weaken teachers’ unions, and lower teaching standards.
“ALEC’s agenda would transform public education from a public and accountable institution that serves the public into one that serves private, for-profit interests. ALEC model bills divert taxpayer money from public to private schools through a variety of ‘voucher’ and ‘tuition tax credit’ programs. They promote unaccountable charter schools and shift power away from democratically elected local school boards.”
A particular section of that article caught my eye, in which Fischer noted that while ALEC now frames its initiatives in terms of opportunity for low-income children, or in providing parental choice, it was less judicious in its early years:
“The commentary to ALEC’s original 1984 voucher bill states that its purpose is ‘to introduce normal market forces’ into education, and to ‘dismantle the control and power of teachers’ unions’ by directing money from public institutions to private ones that were less likely to be unionized,” he wrote.
Fischer, who now works for the Campaign Legal Center, said he was not comfortable discussing his work for his previous employer, and referred me to his successor at the Center for Media and Democracy, Mary Bottari.
Bottari said the center has collected dozens of ALEC draft bills, which are available at its “ALEC Exposed” website.
“ALEC has a stack of bills attacking unions, and attacking teachers’ unions,” she said. “That’s been a priority of this organization for a long time.”
Privatization of public education has also long been a hallmark of ALEC legislative proposals.
“I think it started out as a ideological thing,” she said, a la early ALEC ally economist Milton Friedman, who long advocated for abolishing the public school system.
“Over time, as schools became privatized, companies like K12 Inc. came in to provide these services, so it became more of a two-for,” Bottari said.
Bottari said that because of the extreme partisanship and ethical issues, 113 companies that had been corporate sponsors have severed ties with ALEC, the most recent being ExxonMobil, which had provided $1.4 million in grants to the organization.
Bottari said her biggest concern with the ALEC policy initiatives for education is that they have a history of failing to achieve the promised outcomes.
“That these policymakers are willing to experiment on children like they’re lab rats … is deeply troubling,” she said.