Putting Education Reform To The Test

Groups Dismiss Report Critical Of ALEC’s Influence Over Education Policy

Progress Florida says ALEC has too much influence inside state houses.

Boston Public Library / Flickr

Progress Florida says ALEC has too much influence inside state houses. ALEC defended its work.

Two groups named  yesterday in a report which criticizes ALEC – the American Legislative Exchange Council – for its “damaging influence” on public education policy have responded.

Progress Florida and eight other left-leaning organizations from around the country issued the report, ALEC v. Kids: ALEC’s Assault On Public Education.

ALEC crafts model legislation mostly promoting right-leaning policies — or free-market and limited government in ALEC’s words — for use by state lawmakers.

The organization has a series of task forces comprised of legislators that “develop model policies to use across the country.” Subjects range from Civil Justice to Communications and Technology.

The report claims ALEC’s task forces are under the influence of corporate interests.

“The policies of ALEC’s Education Task Force prioritize profit over results, secrecy over accountability, and cuts over kids,” the report states.

Lindsay Russell, director of ALEC’s Task Force on Education, sent StateImpact Florida this statement:  

“Educating our youth is essential to a knowledge-based, 21st century economy. The Task Force on Education seeks to promote the strongest possible educational foundation for our nation’s children.

We bring together state legislators and parent and educator organizations to develop the best polices for their communities. The Task Force on Education encourages organizations of all backgrounds to join our task force, attend our workshops and engage in other productive ways.

We are a nonpartisan nonprofit because we realize to produce the best outcomes for students, collaboration from all schools of thought is necessary. Our members, public and private, take very seriously their responsibility to provide the best opportunities to prepare our children for successful futures.

We look forward to being a part of today’s education discussion by participating in public-private partnerships and by developing the most effective and efficient ways to help our students.”

The report also called out organizations connected to ALEC, including the Foundation for Excellence in Education. The foundation is chaired by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

Foundation CEO Patricia Levesque posted a response to the report:

“Progress Florida is attempting to create a sense of impropriety where none exists. We at ExcelinEd believe every child can learn when kids become the focus of education. We advocate for data-backed, proven reforms and innovative ideas. The proof is in student learning results. Period. And that should be the metric for determining good public policy.
These policies cannot be done in a vacuum, which is why we proudly work with lawmakers, policymakers, researchers, experts, innovators, educators, parents and more to learn from each other.
It is no secret we’re committed to expanding school choice and work tirelessly with state leaders to accomplish that. We want traditional public schools to win over parents by advancing student achievement, not by eliminating the competition.
But ExcelinEd does not advocate for any particular company or program, and there is no evidence of ExcelinEd advancing the private interests of its donors or partners.
By all means, organizations should be scrutinized. But we won’t allow biased attempts to discredit our organization to derail our mission.”


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