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Virginia featured in new national report detailing ALEC’s assault on public schools

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From Progress Virginia: 

Report exposes the impact right-wing corporate front group ALEC is having on public education policy in the Commonwealth and across the country

RICHMOND – This morning, ProgressVA Education Fund released a new report detailing the damaging influence the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a corporate front group, has on public education policy in Virginia and across the country. The report, entitled ALEC v Kids, documents the growing footprint that ALEC has in Virginia, and across the country, including its unprecedented access to elected officials and the drafting of ‘model’ education policy designed to benefit ALEC’s corporate funders which compliant lawmakers then push into law.

“Virginians need to know who is representing, and how cozy their lawmakers are with the for-profit education industrial complex,” said Anna Scholl, executive director of ProgressVA Education Fund.  “Private companies are looking to profit off of our children and they are using ALEC to push legislation designed to privatize our community schools. Ensuring our kids receive a world class education that prepares them to succeed in a global economy should be our first priority when it comes to public education, not how much money big corporations can make in the process.”

 “When it comes to public education, one question should guide us: What is best for our students?” said Meg Gruber, President of the Virginia Education Association. “The ALEC v. Kids report shows what happens when private interests overshadow the needs of those attending and working in our public schools. The cozy relationship between private interests and elected officials in ALEC should raise a red flag as ALEC ‘model’ bills make their way into state legislatures, including Virginia’s.

 “ALEC v. Public Education documents the funding loopholes in Virginia’s virtual schools law, as well as the shaky performance of K12 Inc., which exploited those loopholes but delivered substandard results,” continued Gruber. “We need to put children, not profits, first.”

Among the report’s key findings:

  • Voucher and virtual education legislation introduced in Virginia was drawn from ALEC models, carried by ALEC legislative members, and, in the case of virtual schools, benefitted ALEC corporate members. 
  • K12, Inc., a key member of ALEC’s Education Task Force, has donated tens of thousands of dollars to Governor Bob McDonnell and state legislators. K12 lobbied hard for 2010 legislation establishing private virtual schools in Virginia and then profited off of loopholes that allowed them to collect large per-student fees.
  • K12’s Virginia Virtual Academy fell behind on 20 of 22 measures of testing student achievement when compared to face-to-face instruction. Carroll County has since suspended their sponsorship of the program. 

ALEC provides Virginia members with “issue alerts,” “talking points,” and “press release templates” expressing support or opposition to state legislation, despite its claims that “ALEC does not lobby in any state.”  As detailed in ProgressVA’s 2012 report, “ALEC Exposed”, ALEC model legislation has been frequently introduced in Virginia’s legislature, at times word for word. The 2012 report also found the Commonwealth had spent over $230,000 in public funds to subsidize legislators’ participation in these meetings with corporate lobbyists.

Despite claims to the contrary, ALEC’s agenda is not based upon ideology, but rather upon financial rewards for its corporate funders.  Corporate lobbyists work behind closed doors to draft legislation designed to benefit their bottom lines. Virginia has seen a range of the resulting ALEC “model bills” that have been adopted by ALEC “task forces” introduced in the General Assembly. To read the original report on ALEC’s impact on public policy in Virginia, please see “ALEC Exposed: Who is writing Virginia’s laws?

To review the new report on ALEC’s impact on education policy, please see ALEC v Kids.  

 

 

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ProgressVA is a multi-issue advocacy organization dedicated to communicating progressive values across the Commonwealth. We engage citizens around issues of immediate state and local concern. www.ProgressVA.org