Virtually identical bills for vouchers and other “school choice” initiatives show up regularly in state legislatures across the country. They are the work of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) – a corporate bill mill that is funded by large for-profit corporations that want to make a buck (many, many bucks) off of taxpayer dollars. Education funding is one of ALEC’s favorite targets. The Student Centered Funding Act is a model ALEC bill that mirrors changes to Mississippi’s funding formula now being considered by the Legislature.
The wealthy corporate execs that run ALEC court state legislators to join their group. They donate to political campaigns and treat these elected officials to “meetings” at swanky resorts. At these ALEC conventions, corporations (often tech companies that aim to sell their software or other products to schools) hand state legislators their wish lists – model legislation written to benefit their bottom line. Examples of education-related ALEC legislation are:
Bills that direct school funding toward the purchase of software sold by ALEC’s corporate members
Bills that require school districts to purchase assessments sold by ALEC’s corporate members
Bills that require public education students to take at least one on-line course (offered by – guess who…ALEC’s corporate members!)
Voucher, tax credit scholarship, and education savings account (neo-voucher) bills
Bills allowing for-profit charter schools (run by – you guessed it… ALEC members!)
The list goes on and on. Here is a link to an ALEC education task force meeting agenda and its model education legislation – the bills that ALEC told state legislators it would really like to see passed (wink, wink).
House Speaker Philip Gunn serves on the ALEC board of directors.