TALLAHASSEE – This morning, Progress Florida released a new report detailing the damaging influence the corporate front group ALEC has on public education policy across the country. The report, entitled ALEC v Kids, documents the growing footprint that ALEC has in Florida, and across the country 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.
“Floridians need to know who is representing, and how cozy their lawmakers are with, the for-profit education industrial complex,” said Mark Ferrulo, executive director of Progress Florida. “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:
- The Foundation for Excellence in Education (FEE) was founded by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush in 2008, intended to reform education. ALEC listed FEE as a member in 2011.  Both FEE and ALEC share funders, including ALEC members K12 Inc., Amplify, State Farm Insurance, and Microsoft, as well as former members Connections Academy, and Intel. FEE’s board and staff have deep ties to ALEC as well. FEE’s research received a “Bunkum Award” from the National Education Policy Center for consistently using false and deceptive ‘research’ work to promote former Governor Bush’s policies.
- ALEC’s model ‘Special Needs Scholarship Program Act’ is based on the Florida McKay scholarships.  Now, at least seven states have enacted similar programs. Although it was the first of its kind, Florida’s McKay scholarships are wrought with problems. There is no mechanism in Florida law to measure the academic achievement of students using the scholarships. It is impossible to know if the program is improving or harming academic performance. For more than a decade, Florida has spent millions on the scholarships, without any mechanism to assess the efficacy of the program.
ALEC provides Florida 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 Florida’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 Florida by ALEC representatives and have amended Florida statutes for the worse, harming everyday citizens in the process. To read the original report on ALEC’s impact on public policy in Florida, please see ALEC In Florida.
To review the new report on ALEC’s impact on education policy, please see ALEC v Kids
Progress Florida is the state's largest netroots organization fighting to protect Florida's middle class. Learn more at www.ProgressFlorida.org.