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This diary started out as a letter to some of my fellow anti-ALEC activists.  I took another look at it, and decided that there was something there worth getting out in the open, and to help shine a light on an aspect of the radical right War on public education.

I have felt for a long time that it has become more and more difficult in America to obtain a decent public education because there are political forces at work in America to destroy public education, not by neglect or poor implementation of educational improvements, but BY POLICY.

Please take a look follow some of the links, listen to a few minutes of videos, and decide for yourself if you think that we have powerful political forces at work to break teacher unions, create a public school funding death spiral, brought about by the diversion of public educational funding to charter schools, online charter schools, publically funded parochial schools and a host of other financial and administrative actions.

Below the separator, I will first reproduce, with minor editing, my letter to my colleagues.

Update:  H/T to ManfromMiddletown for this little gem, the Indiana school "reform" package from ALEC.  From this you can see it is a very well planned and executed strategy, which also includes reducing teacher qualification standards, which is intended to weaken teacher's unions.

The letter is here:

Here is a story about a charter school fail in Ohio, how a charity becomes a "sponsor" of 45 different charter schools, takes a 3% skim from millions in state school funding, the charter essentially hired the charity to "sponsor" their for-profit school, and then had the charity hire a "management" firm OWNED BY THE SAME COMPANY to oversee the operations of the first charter.  All or most of the management team from both companies were all family members, and they ran the company into bankruptcy, all the while taking $1.2 M of public money.

And, as the headline implies, the company had already had another failed charter school venture that sucked up public school funding.

Here's another charter school fail in Ohio.

And another:

And yet another:

Here are some future charter school fails:

And some more future charter e-school fails.

And you know, I have a theory about how all of this has come about.  If we were to trace the legislative history of this mess, my opinion is that we would find ALEC fingerprints all over it, we certainly have ALEC member legislators and ALEC alum Governor John Kasich involved in the destruction, by policy, of Ohio's system of public education.

It makes me sick.  It's time to run ALEC out of our government.  And this is only by clicking on articles in one Ohio newspaper.  Who knows what one would find if you perused the Toledo Blade, or the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Dayton papers.  One could build a case that the charter school system in Ohio is a complete waste of public educational dollars, and even worse, a complete waste of years of educational life for Ohio children, saddling them for life with a third-world or worse education.

You may ask where do I get the idea that ALEC may have a hand in enabling these grossly mismanaged and incompetent charter operators to ply their craft in Ohio and elsewhere.  How about from ALEC's website.  Every year they produce a document titled "Report Card on American Education".  The link right here goes to the page which allows you to click on a pdf download of the entire document.  Here is a link for the 18th Edition (pdf).

If you read it, you will find that the state-by-state rankings, in grades that go from B+ to D+, there are no A's or F's, are ranked by how well the state's have implemented ALEC educational POLICY, not how well the schools or students perform.  What are some of the policies?  Union busting, partially by mass implementation of online studies to reduce the number of teachers needed in the classroom, and in the report, Pages 12-15.  On page 14, Mr. Terry Moe articulates a strategy of "distance learning" as a union-breaking strategic option.

Here are two videos where Mr. Moe, addressing an ALEC educational session expounds on implementing distance learning, explicitly building a case that if it is implemented, it will drive teachers out of the classroom, even, putting a teacher of a large distance learning class "in India".

And here is how Moe really feels about unions:

Note that the video above is under the auspices of the Fordham Institute, a right wing educational "think tank".

The ALEC publication also supports public school alternatives including charter schools, digital learning, unburdening home schooling, and gives states better grades if they have enacted policies favoring these things.

If you were to read the articles from my letter to my friends, you would find that Ohio has implemented and is in process to legislatively implement more of these misguided policies, that put lipstick on the pig with rhetoric that the goal is to improve education, when, in my opinion, the result is exactly the opposite.

I am not an expert in education or educational policy, but I can see the result of years of radical republican policies and their impact on the state where I live.  And I see no means of improvement until we elect a legislature and governor who are not under the very large thumb of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

I invite you to read and comment.  Since I put a lot of links up, I want keep this short.

Originally posted to Ohiodem1 on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 08:14 PM PST.

Also republished by Central Ohio Kossacks, American Legislative Transparency Project, KasichWatch, In Support of Labor and Unions, and "Progressive Politics:Tennessee Style" (PPTS).

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Comment Preferences

  •  I will check back in 1/2 hour to check commens (6+ / 0-)

    and respond.  Thanks for reading.

    Republicans are like alligators. All mouth and no ears.

    by Ohiodem1 on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 08:16:39 PM PST

  •  10 Recs, no comments. Next time I will remember (6+ / 0-)

    not to put 2 hours worth of videos in my diary.  Good night, thanks for reading.

    Republicans are like alligators. All mouth and no ears.

    by Ohiodem1 on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 09:02:08 PM PST

  •  This is about as important as electoral politics (6+ / 0-)

    I mean, this sneaky ALEC kind of.. what do you call this anyways? Bribery is probably the first word. Supression of democracy in favor of feudalism. Flat out rat-fuckery of the worst sort, with unlimited funding.

    DKos does a decent job of calling this out, but there needs to be much more of it, for all of ours' sake.

    This Rover crossed over.. Willie Nelson, written by Dorothy Fields

    by Karl Rover on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 09:42:18 PM PST

  •  A couple years ago, I was seriously considering... (11+ / 0-)

    ...taking a job at a software development shop that made software for online schools.  I found out that their big project was the website for ECOT, the big online K-12 charter school in Ohio.  The software operation was reasonably impressive-- they had a nice office in the Arena District in downtown Columbus, the staff seemed content and competent, the software they were building looked reasonably decent from a technical standpoint.  A friend of mine who ran the project had recruited me and I knew him to be a good guy, and a smart guy as well.  But when I researched the outfit, I found that ECOT was vastly underperforming the worst brick and mortar public school districts in the state and should have been shut down years ago, but the owner funnels millions into the campaign coffers of the shot-callers at the state house and they have protected him.   The same guy who owns ECOT owned the software shop and he was looking to sell his online school software to other charter schools around the country.  I was not comfortable with spreading a failing educational model around the country, much less one that depended on pay-to-play political favors for its existence, and politely withdrew myself from consideration.

  •  I appreciate the links, but yes, it's taking time (6+ / 0-)

    to absorb.

    I do wonder who picked the guy to speak on the "progressive" side of the Fordham debate, which I've watched about 1/2 of. Perhaps the same person who picked a weak Alan Colmes to serve as a foil for Hannity? He's pathetically unprepared to face Moe. (Sorry if I'm insulting anyone here!)

    Why does no one point out to Moe that if teachers' unions represent the job & money interests of teachers to the detriment of kids, why does he think that a corporation running schools won't behave in exactly the same way -- representing their shareholders to the detriment of the kids?

    Coincidentally, re Moe's union vs. technology argument, see today's LA Times: Teachers, parents protest iPad plan.

  •  Moe is so full of shit (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ohiodem1, Mentatmark, justintime

    Like a hammer cannot build a house, technology cannot teach.  Kids are not parts to be assembled, they are individuals with their own unique characteristics.  What works to educated one might not work to educated the another.   We have thousands of years of teaching as an example and we would throw that away because of a new tool?

    The Republican party has become the politburo of capitalism. It seeks to direct the direction this country is going NO MATTER WHAT WE THE PEOPLE THINK.

    by tarminian on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 05:02:30 AM PST

    •  Kids are not parts to be assembled?! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      With the continued dummying down of the American public, many are buying into these frauds. We no longer teach critical thinking so today's parents are absorbing this dangerous dogma via their local TV news 'reports', local politicians and cable news. Parents are beginning to believe a computer CAN teach a child.
      If we keep 'em dumb enough we CAN assemble them. And that is their intention.  A dumb population is easier to control. They will even vote against their own best interest.

      A - American L - Legislators E - Exemplifiying C - Corruption

      by Jean Sloan on Mon Nov 25, 2013 at 04:37:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This bears (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ohiodem1, Mentatmark, justintime

    an uncanny resemblance to the model bills from the Indiana Education Package being pushed by ALEC. Former Supt. of Pub. Instruction Tony Bennett was a huge promoter of all this, and actually went to the Phoenix meeting in order to sell this.

    Bennett has since lost his reelection bid to present Superintendent Glenda Ritz.  His successor is the only Democrat holding statewide office in Indiana.  Mike Pence, present governor and former president of the Indiana Policy Review Foundation (an SPN affiliate), actually tried to create a second education department, the Center for Education and Career Innovation, which would assume the functions of the elected department led by Ritz. That story there is a whole mess of its own.

    But, the layout from the story your link to (see below)

    is one I imagine is repeated in Indiana.  There are a couple of charter schools in the state that have relationships with for-profit companies that seem to mirror the arrangement you describe here.  This is certainly something that deserves research, and it puts the dispute between Pence and Ritz into a whole lot less favorable light.  I have a friend at the Indiana State Teacher's Association.... will have to forward this article.

    by ManfromMiddletown on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 05:32:46 AM PST

    •  That's an interesting loop of interconnectedness (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mentatmark, justintime

      you demonstrate there.  Thank you MfM.

      Republicans are like alligators. All mouth and no ears.

      by Ohiodem1 on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 05:45:26 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  One of the directors (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ohiodem1, Mentatmark, justintime, a2nite

        of a local charter school is actually a long time columnist for the Indiana Policy Review Foundation.  This is why we need more research and less hype about ALEC.

        by ManfromMiddletown on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 05:48:29 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  What kind of research? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I read this diary and the linked articles last night. I wanted to comment, but there's a certain powerlessness that sets in, a feeling of wondering what can be done.

          Your comment I guess is the starting point -- research.  But of what?  


          Don't tread on me.

          by VetGrl on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 09:22:46 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  There's a tremendous amount of research that (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            has already been done into ALEC and organizations whose intent is to defund, disrupt and destroy not just education in America, but environmental protection, privatize for Wall Street gain our retirement systems and Social Security, destroy what is left of health care in America, privatize everything in America including our national parks, our prisons, legislate throw away the key sentencing laws to keep those private prison beds, and their constant stream of revenue and profits coming in, you name it, these right wing political forces are at play.

            Right now in the Ohio legislature, a Bill Seitz sponsored bill, which looks suspiciously like the Orwellian named Energy Freedom Act, which is intended to overturn the renewable energy targets for legislation enacted during the Strickland administration.  Similar legislation has been introduced and failed to be passed because of public pushback in Colorado and some other Western states.  What is the common element, who disseminates these nefarious laws throughout our states, why a lot of it can be attributed to the right wing bill clearinghouse, ALEC, in my opinion.

            How do we fight back as a people?  We identify and throw the bums out.  We already know who most of them are due to various lists that have been compiled by some dedicated researchers, using original source information.

            We need to demand that ALEC bills be identified as such when they are introduced, who the Task Force member companies are, who the individuals on the Task Forces are, both public and private, what economic interest is advanced by the ALEC "Model Bills", and who will be hurt by the ALEC "Model Bills".

            Then we need to vote in large numbers.  We can't let the Republicans do a better job of getting out the vote in low turnout elections.  They can't win high turnout elections, and we need to make EVERY election a high turnout election.

            Republicans are like alligators. All mouth and no ears.

            by Ohiodem1 on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 09:39:33 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Specifically (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Ohiodem1, VetGrl

            to this effort.  I would say getting the incorporation documents from state offices for charter schools and the groups that they contract with.

            That's what this Columbus Dispatch reporter did.  If you have people on the non-profit board of the charter pop up on the for-profit groups that they contract with you have a story.  At the very least it seriously questions what the purpose of these state laws is. At the best, it provides fodder to challenge the non-profit status of these charter schools because they create a material benefit for their board directors.  

            There's a lot of boring work here, but that's where the dirt is.


            by ManfromMiddletown on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 09:44:45 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  But it gets exciting when you make the connections (0+ / 0-)

              and find the real answers.  Of course you are a professional researcher with enormous skills and knowledge of the process.  I have always appreciated your hard work and knowledge.

              Republicans are like alligators. All mouth and no ears.

              by Ohiodem1 on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 09:54:21 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I'm not a professional researcher (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                VetGrl, Ohiodem1

                I don't know if there is such a thing.  

                I do think that we need to a better capacity to build researching skills on the left.  We're reaching the point in the movement against ALEC where this is critical.  They know how to hide, we have to know how to seek.


                by ManfromMiddletown on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 10:05:28 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  What about statutory language comparison? (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Ohiodem1, ManfromMiddletown

                  I perused the Ohio Revised Code on education and noticed a lot of recent activity in terms of effective dates.

                  Is it useful to compare the ORC language to what's in that Indiana Model you linked to above?

                  I also discovered that in 2001 Ohio expressly eliminated any disinterestedness requirement for receivers of failed nonprofits. That means that an insider of a charter school that's liquidating can be in charge of winding down the school.  Useful?

                  Another bit I picked up is that if a public school is selling real property, it's required to offer the property to the governing authorities of start-up charter schools within the school district. The school district can't offer the property for more than the appraised fair market value and it must sell to the first bidder. Useful?

                  I got the last two items from here.

                  Don't tread on me.

                  by VetGrl on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 10:24:13 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  It doesn't say anything about whether the offer (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    must be at least as much as the appraised value or the asking price.  It never allows the school board to get competing offers for the property, or to get a better price, which could be put into educational programs.  Kind of looks like a sweetheart deal to me.  It just says that the school board must accept the first offer, and does not address, in any way, the fact that other factors going into the value of a piece of real estate may be in play to allow the board to offer the property at a premium to the appraised value.

                    From CMD, here is a list of ALEC education policy "model legislation".  Remember, they cut and paste bits and pieces of ALEC legislation into things like budget bills that do not get much scrutiny, and then you have it, more ALEC anti-public education laws, a sneak attack on our children and grandchildren.


                    So there has been a tremendous amount of research, most meticulously gathered and made public, but we have a blind news media who are beholden to the advertising bucks from ALEC companies who support their profitable media empires.

                    Nice catch on the Ohio education legislation summary.

                    Republicans are like alligators. All mouth and no ears.

                    by Ohiodem1 on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 12:07:49 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  What to do? (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      This really has the feel of a David and Goliath battle, and it doesn't help that the GOP started beating the privatization drum in earnest a couple of decades ago with little counter from the Democrats.

                      I'm in full agreement with ManfromMiddletown's diary, Rules for ALEC Activists. Hyperbole doesn't help anything. Because the ALEC problem is so big and so pervasive, it seems we need to chip away at its edges.

                      Maybe a smart approach is to focus on three or four specific issues, like conflict of interest, corporate welfare (like the real estate sales), and legislative transparency. We could develop specific policy proposals around those issues justified by the shortcomings of what's on the books now.

                      One example would be a push for a user-friendly website for the General Assembly, including a daily update of 1) bills introduced and 2) floor action. The template is available at the thomas website for Congress.

                      We could (should?) also do the tedious work that ManfromMiddletown suggests -- pulling public documents and connecting the dots among the various players and profit-takers in the current education regime.

                      I'm willing to roll up my sleeves on such a project.

                      Don't tread on me.

                      by VetGrl on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 01:23:45 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Vetgrl, all of the Anti-ALEC group are frustrated (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:

                        because of the slow pace of change, and a lot of that is because MSM won't do their job and expose the abuses and corrupt nature of the organization and its corporate sponsors/enablers, and the 2000 or so legislators that they have compromised.

                        Finding an area of concentration or group makes sense, particularly if an individual has expertise in those areas.  It makes sense for groups of individuals to band together and cover all aspects of ALEC corruption and continually report on ALL of them simultaneously.

                        You mention Real Estate.  I recall seeing a diary on a sneaky bill that caused people with reverse mortgages to become spendthrifts because if they had any money left at the end of the month, by the proposed re-structuring at the state level, any remaining funds could be used to deny eligibility for Medicaid health care (without going back to read the diary and legislation, I cannot, with 100 per cent certainty, attribute that particular piece of legislation to ALEC, it may have been some other right wing organization).  CMD has a whole section regarding banking and real estate laws.  Or Telecommunications laws.  Anywhere that there is money to be made, they have a "model bill" for it.

                        Look here for a comprehensive list.  Show the list to a newspaper writer or editor, show similarities or exact plagiarized wording in a particular law, then ask the reporter why his or her newspaper isn't reporting this.


                        If people come in with factual reports, constantly, from all sides at once, eventually ALEC won't be able to defend itself from this onslaught.  They will be confused, demoralized, they will make mistakes, they will make big mistakes, and we will win.  This comes from the John Boyd school of warfare, and he gave it the term, maneuver warfare, and it works.  They have been doing it to the American people for 40 years, we have been fighting back for 3.  We are gaining on them, and we will win.

                        Republicans are like alligators. All mouth and no ears.

                        by Ohiodem1 on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 07:04:08 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  I will not be available to blog for the next two (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:

                        or three days, so this is my last response for a while.

                        Republicans are like alligators. All mouth and no ears.

                        by Ohiodem1 on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 07:05:56 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                  •  Yes (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    VetGrl, Ohiodem1

                    The revised code is very, very useful.

                    They definitions section tend to be where there is the most overlap between the bills.  When model bills are converted to state legislation, the model bill has to be modified so it had the right references to state code.  So you won't get a one on one match, unless it's a resolution which usually makes no reference to state code.

                    The truth about research is that for the most part what you need isn't going to be online.  And often will require a FOIA request if we're talking about state contracts.


                    by ManfromMiddletown on Thu Nov 21, 2013 at 03:02:51 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Ohio's contract are online (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      They're here.

                      The statute requiring online availability of the contracts is here.  Note that it's been amended almost every year since its 2003 effective date.  The statute's life spans the governorships of Taft, Strickland, and Kasich.

                      Don't tread on me.

                      by VetGrl on Thu Nov 21, 2013 at 08:24:33 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

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