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It's no secret that ALEC, American Legislative Exchange Council, has an education agenda. The templates for policy can be accessed at ALEC EXPOSED. However, transforming a template to policy doesn't happen instantaneously. How does the ideology translate into law? Could it be with a little help from Teach for America? Bear with me while I connect the dots.

Originally posted at Great Schools for America

Last summer, quite by accident, I met a group of about six young adults on the MAX here in Portland who were traveling from the airport to train for their new jobs.  They were talking about having just finished their teaching jobs and how happy they were to be done with it. Being an unemployed teacher myself,  I listened for a while and then struck up a conversation.  They identified themselves as Teach for America corps members who had just completed their obligatory two year stints in the classroom.  They were headed to the Stand for Children offices to be trained in writing education policy.  Most had been hired to work as legislative assistants in state houses around the country. I asked a few probing questions about their education expertise, especially in policy.  Turns our none of them had any education credentials.  Some had worked on their masters degrees during teaching, but none had studied education or education policy.  They really didn't get my point. The arrogance was palpable.  I finally asked one of them point blank, "Don't you think you should have some education and experience before writing education policy?" They assured me that over the next two weeks (I think, anyway, short time) they would be trained to do it.

I hadn't thought about that encounter much since. But when I read Diane Ravitch's latest article in the Answer Sheet, Ravitch: A Primer on the Group Driving School Reform,  it occurred to me that Stand for Children could be the conduit to the uniformity in education legislation using Teach for America "leaders" as the delivery system. Last summer ALEC was barely a blip on my radar so I hadn't make a connection back then.

Could Stand for Children be training former Teach for America corps members to write ALEC policy for state legislatures? I know Oregon legislators aren't savvy enough to develop language and coordinate ideas that mesh with those in other states, but their Teach for America, Stand for Children trained assistants may well be.  With a little help from a persistent friend, this is what I found out.  

Leadership for Education Equity (LEE) is the political leg of Teach for America.

Leadership for Educational Equity (LEE) is a 501(c) (4) nonprofit organization that was launched in 2007 to inspire, train and support Teach For America alumni and corps members to pursue public leadership by providing or connecting them to high impact volunteer and career opportunities in politics, policy, advocacy, and elected office. Over the years, Teach For America alumni and corps members expressed a growing desire to engage more with the policy and political contexts that so impacted what they saw happening at the school and classroom level. Recognizing that Teach For America's ability to engage in or to support advocacy and political work is quite limited as a traditional 501(c)(3) organization, LEE was born.
Translation:  Legally, Teach for America can't write or influence education policy, but by creating a faux nonprofit, it can.

On the LEE home page, a job posting for ALEC is listed -- lower right.  

Featured Job
Education Task Force Director

Company: American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)
Type of Position: Full-time; Non-Profit
Location: Washington, DC

After an exhaustive search no financial records for this organization were found. Funding sources are also scarce.

Teach for America's influence reaches far beyond the damage its recruits  do in the classroom.  It produces "leaders" whose mission is to privatize public education under the guise of astroturf organizations like LEE and many others that only give lip service to education equity. Through this seemingly innocuous network, TFA has been able to infiltrate every facet of education by placing former corps members in positions of power. With an infrastructure like that, it's no that wonder ALEC has been so successful in moving its education agenda forward.

Originally posted to annie em on Tue May 08, 2012 at 08:56 AM PDT.

Also republished by American Legislative Transparency Project.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Excellent diary. It seems that ALEC has its (9+ / 0-)

    nasty little agenda everywhere and in many disguises. Every
    trick that is exposed brings us one step closer to stopping them.

    "Southern nights have you ever felt a southern night?" Allen Toussaint ~~Remember the Gulf of Mexico~~

    by rubyr on Tue May 08, 2012 at 09:01:27 AM PDT

  •  Feel the hate (5+ / 0-)
    Why is the Washington State Teachers Union Ousting Good Teachers from the Classroom?

     Apr 10, 2012
    by Liv Finne of Cascade Policy Institute

    The Washington State teachers’ union sees opening schools to Teach for America (TFA) graduates as a threat to their power within the system......There’s more. The Seattle Times reported that union-inspired activists are harassing TFA teachers at Aki Kurose Middle School and South Shore K-8, hoping to get them to quit. Their personal information has been posted online. One teacher’s home was burglarized.

    Liv Finne is Director of Washington Policy Center’s Center for Education and serves on the Education Task Force of the American Legislative Exchange Council. She holds a law degree from Boston University School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wellesley College. Liv is a guest contributor for Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research center.

    from a bright young conservative: “I’m watching my first GOP debate…and WE SOUND LIKE CRAZY PEOPLE!!!!”

    by Catte Nappe on Tue May 08, 2012 at 09:34:24 AM PDT

    •  Washigton parents and teachers (6+ / 0-)

      have fought hard to keep Teach for America out of their state.  Parents Across America has been especially vocal.  If TFAers want to be teachers -- or policy writers -- they should have the credentials to do the job.  TFA is nothing more than a recruiting firm that places unprepared, unqualified, entitled people into jobs that more qualified people without connections can't get.

      I can see why some people might hate that.

      Not everything that can be counted counts. Not everything that counts can be counted. Albert Einstein

      by annie em on Tue May 08, 2012 at 09:48:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I was referring to the hate for the unions (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I mean, I know union members are supposed to be thugs, but I just have a real hard time picturing union teachers burglarizing TFA members homes.

        from a bright young conservative: “I’m watching my first GOP debate…and WE SOUND LIKE CRAZY PEOPLE!!!!”

        by Catte Nappe on Tue May 08, 2012 at 09:52:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's not clear what you are trying to say. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Union members are teachers who joined to assure due rocess in protecting their jobs.  TFAers are neither teachers nor policy writers.  They should not be hired as such.

          Not everything that can be counted counts. Not everything that counts can be counted. Albert Einstein

          by annie em on Tue May 08, 2012 at 09:58:55 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Research shows that on average teachers (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Catte Nappe, mamamedusa

      are at their least effective during their first two years of teaching (Diane Ravitch "The Death and Life of the Great American School System").  Teach for America folk only have a tiny bit of pedagogy training; raw intelligence does not necessarily make for a good teacher!

      ...Son, those Elephants always look out for themselves. If you happen to get a crumb or two from their policies, it's a complete coincidence. -Malharden's Dad

      by slowbutsure on Tue May 08, 2012 at 11:28:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And TFAers only have to have a 2.5 to (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        qualify.  We have bright young teachers who can't get jobs because they are promised to TFA.  We also have seasoned, intelligent, educated folks who should be hired to write education policy. TFA has got to go!

        Not everything that can be counted counts. Not everything that counts can be counted. Albert Einstein

        by annie em on Tue May 08, 2012 at 12:00:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  My son considered applying to Teach for America (0+ / 0-)

    Thankfully, he ended up joining a subsidized Master's Degree program called Teaching Fellows of New York City. Unlike TFA, TFONYC wants to keep their teachers permanently, not set them loose after two years. Most schools in NYC have Teaching Fellows as faculty members. He is turning in his Masters Thesis this week and has been teaching special ed math for 2 years while also taking classes. I believe the NYC school system only takes people into the Teaching Fellows program that fill gaps in their teaching needs. They aren't firing experienced teachers and replacing them with younger TFONYC teachers. He has had a great, though hard experience and wants to be a life-long teacher.

    Try organic food, or as your grandparents called it, food.

    by madame damnable on Tue May 08, 2012 at 12:56:05 PM PDT

    •  Teach for America's Wendy Kopp (0+ / 0-)

      admits that TFA is not about teaching but about choosing leaders  for the future.  The modern day version of "the good ole boys club.  I have a big problem with that.

      Good luck to your son!

      Not everything that can be counted counts. Not everything that counts can be counted. Albert Einstein

      by annie em on Tue May 08, 2012 at 06:04:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  On behalf of Stand for Children (0+ / 0-)

    I’d like to correct two of the most egregious inaccuracies in this post:

    1. The author writes: “They identified themselves as Teach for America corps members who had just completed their obligatory two year stints in the classroom. They were headed to the Stand for Children offices to be trained in writing education policy.” This is categorically incorrect. I don’t know who you met or what was said, but the fact is that Stand for Children simply does not train our staff or outsiders on writing policy. We have never collaborated with TFA or anyone else on workshops or other meetings to create policy.

    2. Nobody at Stand for Children communicates or has a working relationship, formally or informally, with ALEC. Your piece implies that we do, but we don’t, not at any level. There have been one or two instances when a piece of legislation that Stand developed or worked on was later ‘showcased’ by ALEC and maybe even adapted into their own work. Even in these instances, we were not aware of, involved in, or supportive of ALEC's work.

    Stand for Children exists to ensure that all children, regardless of their background, graduate from high school, and that they are prepared for college or a career. Our organizers in so many communities see that a large percentage of the people who attended failing schools are stuck without options for a better future. The situation is critical for so many children today. This is why we are passionate about creating change. We advocate for education policies that have a direct impact on these students and their communities.

    I’d like to invite anyone to come look at our state-level work at to learn more about what we do and why we do it.

    •  Stand for Children exists to buy legislators (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      and privatize public schools. SFC ensures schools serve the interests of wealthy businessmen, not kids or teachers. Your CEO Jonah Edelman is passionate about change, too -to take down teacher's unions and crack open the public funnel to his corporate profiteers:

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