AFT member Jim Randels, a veteran New Orleans public school teacher, was a featured speaker at an August 3 news conference designed to expose the anti-worker, anti-democratic laws being pushed through state legislatures around the country by a right-wing group funded by huge corporations. [Texas AFT thanks national AFT writer Dan Gursky for sending us this information, which is highly relevant to the legislative situation we face in Texas.]
The news conference was held in New Orleans to coincide with the annual corporate board meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which has drafted much of the damaging legislation that newly elected governors and state legislators have embraced since the 2010 elections.
One of ALEC’s stated legislative priorities is to privatize public education, making education a profit center rather than a public good. That, Randels noted, “is dangerous to the American way and to the education of our children.” The “ALEC way” turns parents into consumers who have to search the market for their children’s education rather than citizens committed to building high-quality public schools, he said.
Among those joining Randels at the event was Brett Bonin, a New Orleans school board member and active Republican. “I’m very concerned about this group writing legislation for adoption by state legislatures without public input,” he said, adding that ALEC’s agenda appears to be to defund public education so it fails and can be taken over by private interests. “This is not a good thing.”
The New Orleans media event is part of a broader effort to bring to light the impact of ALEC in state legislatures around the country. A new website, ALEC Exposed, from the Center for Media and Democracy, includes much more information on ALEC’s influence and modus operandi.