New national report details corporate manipulation in Utah schools

ALEC Billboard RESIZED

Salt Lake City – A new report released this morning by the Alliance for a Better UTAH and its partners details the damaging influence the corporate lobbying group American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has had on public education policy across the country.

The report, ALEC v Kids, documents the growing footprint that ALEC has in Utah 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. The report is the first among many that will detail ALEC’s involvement in multiple policy areas.

Report: http://betterutah.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/ALECvKids.pdf

“Utahns are more familiar with ALEC after they held their conference here last year, but this report reaffirms just how far back the partnership between Utah and ALEC goes,” said Maryann Martindale, executive director of Better UTAH.

Starting as early as 2004 with vouchers, ALEC has been meddling with Utah public education by drafting model legislation that is then passed off as local legislation.

“As we’ve consistently done in the past, we will keep shining a light on ALEC’s legislation and the many lawmakers who do its bidding,” said Martindale. “We proudly stand with other organizers in our community who refuse to allow our public schools to be commandeered by corporate agendas at the expense of our local needs.”

Among the report’s key findings:

  • Success with voucher bills hinged on elections, and in 2004 and 2006, the Chairman of the Friedman Foundation, Patrick Byrne, became the number one political donor in the state between 2003 and 2006. Pro-voucher groups including Byrne, spent hundreds of thousands in efforts to elect pro-voucher legislators. Byrne had even gone so far as to assess Gubernatorial candidate Jon Huntsman’s enthusiasm for vouchers, before personally donating $75,000 to his campaign.
  • In November 2007, 62 percent of Utah voters rejected the Friedman Foundation’s vouchers. The Chair of the Friedman Foundation reacted to Utah voters by saying, “They don’t care enough about their kids. They care an awful lot about this system, this bureaucracy, but they don’t care enough about their kids to think outside the box.”

ALEC provides Utah 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 statehouses across the country. ALEC model legislation has been introduced in Utah’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 Utah by ALEC representatives and have amended Utah statutes for the worse, harming everyday citizens in the process.  To read the original report on ALEC’s impact on public policy in Utah, please see ALEC in Utah.

To review the new report on ALEC’s impact on education policy, please see ALEC v Kids.

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Alliance for a Better UTAH |  801.557.1532   | www.betterutah.org
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The Alliance for a Better UTAH is a year-round, multi-issue education and advocacy organization providing resources, commentary, and action on important public policy matters.

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