Better Georgia released a multi-state report today detailing the damaging influence the corporate front-group ALEC has on public education policy in Georgia and across the country.
The report, entitled ALEC v Kids: ALEC’s Assault on Public Education, documents the growing footprint that the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has in Georgia, 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.
“Georgia taxpayers need to know who influences our lawmakers and how closely they’re associated with the for-profit education industrial complex,” said Bryan Long, executive director of Better Georgia. “We will continue to shine a bright light on ALEC and the lawmakers doing their dirty work for as long as their assault on our neighborhood public schools continues.”
Among the report’s key findings:
- Rep. David Casas was named ALEC’s Legislator of the Year in 2008, for his successful sponsorship of the Georgia Tuition Tax Credit, a $50 million expenditure for the state.
- HB 1133 was a virtually verbatim copy of ALEC’s Great Schools Tax Credit and was promoted as a way for new students to attend private schools, but according to an independent study private school enrollment increased by just one third of one percent.
- ALEC warned Georgia lawmakers about the problems that could follow but Rep. Casas ignored warnings of potential abuse deliberately drafted the bill using “enrolled” rather than “attending” to promote the credit among those already in private schools.
During the 2013 legislative session, the Georgia General Assembly passed HB283 to require students to attend a private school for six weeks before becoming eligible for the program unless they have been the victim of documented bullying or attend a low performing school. Rep. Casas voted against the changes.
Georgia still does not require participating private schools to meet the same standards as public schools so nothing is known about the quality of education these private schools provide. Georgia still does not require robust income data for those who receive the credits.
ALEC provides Georgia 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.” The organization also tracks the status of its model bills in legislatures and bills it does not like, and sends its employees to testify in support of its bills in state houses across the country. ALEC model legislation has been introduced in Georgia’s legislature, at times word for word.
Despite claims to the contrary, ALEC’s agenda is not based upon ideology, but rather upon financial rewards for its corporate funders. The resulting ALEC “model bills” that have been adopted by ALEC “task forces” have been introduced in Georgia by ALEC representatives and have amended Georgia statutes for the worse, harming everyday citizens in the process.
To review the new report on ALEC’s impact on education policy, please see ALEC v Kids (PDF).