Tuesday, October 11, 2022

ALEC's 2022 Education Goals

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is that special group that drives the legislative bus right over any pedestrian notions of how a bill gets to Capitol Hill. And they had some educational ideas for this year. Let's see how things are going.

ALEC is a special collection of legislators and business folks. The "exchange" in the title is a misnomer; mostly ALEC appears about well-placed business leaders getting to tell legislators what they'd like to see enshrined in law. Committees whip up "model legislation" which legislators than carry back to their own state to get passed (Sourcewatch calls it a "corporate bill mill"). ALEC is one reason that from time to time we see remarkably similar laws popping up at the same time all across the country.

So when ALEC says they have some items on their wish list, it's worth paying attention.

What did they want from the education sector this year? See if you recognize any of these priorities from a state capital near you. On their list of "essential policy ideas," under "Education and Workforce Development," we find the following:

Academic transparency to enhance parental rights

In fact, they've even got a model American Civics and History Act that would require all social studies instructional materials to be available online for parents to view, require schools to offer US history and government, and forbid anything that might force students to agree with a particular view on controversial subjects (so I guess no more expressing disapproval of kids wearing nazi paraphernalia or confederate flags). 

This one seems to be going well for them, with lots of states demanding some version of "no controversial subjects" and requiring both sidesism in class (like that school in Texas where teachers were told they'd better hit both sides of the Holocaust). 

Alternative credentialling

This item mentions how the certification process places undue burdens on teachers, which is an odd thing to say, since a person isn't a teacher until they've been certified and hired. But the real concern here is how a certification process can "limit the pool of qualified professionals." 

How much better to have a really large pool to choose from, because that would make the cost of such labor cheaper. Hence a whole lot of talk about the teacher shortage and how we can fix it by repeatedly lowering the bar so that any warm body can be put in charge of a classroom. For years, reformsters tried to McDonaldize teaching by pushing teacher-proof curriculum in a box, but recently we seem to have moved past that an on to just saying, "Screw it" and redefining the job requirements so that any human with a pulse qualifies.

Expanding educational freedom

"Education freedom" is a term that tests better with audiences than "vouchers," but that's what they mean. At the opening they were salivating over the impending Carson v. Makin case that, along with the Espinoza decision, would help blast a big fat hole in the wall between church and state. Big enough to drive a bus through, a bus full of money headed for your favorite "religious" school, while simultaneously getting closer to establishing education as a private commodity that you have to go purchase on your own in an unregulated marketplace that, like all marketplaces, offers a hell of a lot more to the rich than to the poor.

And wouldn't you know it-- ALEC has some model Education Savings Account (super-voucher) legislation for your use. Take a look--I guarantee it will look familiar, right down to the clauses guaranteeing "autonomy" for the participating vendors so that they won't have to abide by any of those pesky regulations that the government likes to throw around; they'll be free to discriminate to their hearts' content.  

Those are the big three for ALEC this year, and as you can see, it's been going pretty well for the quest to drive the bus right through the public school walls and just dismantle the whole thing. And if the bus in your state looks a lot like the bus in other states, well, now you have an idea why. 

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