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Zaid Jilani

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Charter Schools Association Is Using Taxpayer Money to Support ALEC's Radical Agenda

Posted: 05/13/2012 3:10 pm

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a powerful corporate front group that works to pass Big Business-written laws in state legislatures. Following the outcry over the group pushing "Stand Your Ground" laws, at least 15 major corporations, foundations, and other organizations have decided to end their funding commitments to ALEC.

But ALEC has another way of financing itself that doesn't involve private corporations at all. The National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) is one of ALEC's members at least through 2009 and may well still be a member. NACSA's president and CEO Greg Richmond joined ALEC's Education Task Force around 2009.

NACSA is financed in part by school districts and state departments of education. Here are just a few of NACSA's members that fall into this category: Denver Public Schools, Baltimore City Public Schools, Arkansas Department of Education, California Department of Education, and the Los Angeles Unified School District.

ALEC charges groups and companies to join its organization and task forces, and there's no indication that NACSA joined for free. What that means is that school districts and state departments of education are sending their tax dollars to NACSA, and NACSA is then sending some of those dollars to ALEC. NACSA staff time, paid for in part by taxpayers, is also devoted to ALEC task force work.

I called NACSA to confirm that they still maintain their membership in ALEC. This is the response a NACSA official gave me:

NACSA's goal is to advance excellence in charter schools; we promote high standards, fair treatment of students, public transparency, and fiscal responsibility by charter schools. To that end, NACSA works with a variety of policymakers and organizations on both sides of the aisle to address charter school issues. NACSA has worked with Democrats for Education Reform, the Progressive Policy Institute, the Black Alliance for Educational Options, the Aspen Institute, ALEC, and the National Governors Association, among many others, to impact charter school policy and practice.
I followed up to ask if NACSA was currently an ALEC member. NACSA gave me no response.
NACSA's coordination with the group proves that taxpayer money is being used to finance ALEC's radical agenda: everything from funding voter suppression laws to crushing unions. In light of this revelation, NACSA should seriously reconsider its membership in ALEC. And if NACSA chooses to stay a part of ALEC, the school districts and state departments of education should seriously reconsider their membership in the organization.
 

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