ALEC behind Georgia charter school referendum

ALEC has been pushing charter schools in Georgia, both through “our state legislators” sponsoring bills and through the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA). We already got that private prison customer law HB 87 from ALEC; why would we want to approve an ALEC-sponsored law to let Atlanta siphon public school money to charter schools?

Salvatore Colleluori & Brian Powell wrote for MediaMatters 9 May 2012, How ALEC Is Quietly Influencing Education Reform In Georgia,

Georgia media have been silent as members of ALEC in Georgia’s legislature have successfully pushed through a version of ALEC’s Charter Schools Act, which would create a state-controlled board with the power to establish and fund charter schools over local opposition. A Media Matters analysis found that while Georgia media have frequently written about the bills, they have completely overlooked ALEC’s influence in the debate.

The article details how at least two of the statehouse sponsors of the relevant bills are ALEC members: Speaker Pro Tempore Jan Jones R 46 and Majority Whip Edward Lindsey R 54. Remember them, from the list of Georgia Legislators with ALEC Ties? You thought maybe that list was hypothetical and of little effect? Nope, these bills echo ALEC model charter school legislation, and these ALEC legislators actively pushed them into law. Plus look at the titles these two legislators have on their own legislative websites: Speaker Pro Tempore and Majority Whip. How close is that to our legislature being owned lock, stock, and barrel by ALEC?

But wait! There’s more…. Lee Fang wrote for Republic Report 14 May 2012, Charter School Lobby Group Quits ALEC Two Days After Being Identified By Republic Report,

On Saturday, Republic Report’s Zaid Jilani reported that the National Association of Charter School Authorizers was one of the many covert members of the American Legislative Exchange Council, the controversial front group that helps lobbyists ghostwrite state law. As Jilani noted, NACSA is funded in large part by taxpayer dollars:

That article doesn’t say anything about Georgia, but NACSA does, for example in its January 2009 interview with Andrew W. Broy of the Georgia Department of Education,

In addition, the Georgia Charter Schools Commission was established in 2008. The Commission is a state-level authorizer that is empowered to grant (or renew) charters independent of local school board action. In recognition of these accomplishments, the State of Georgia was the inaugural recipient of the NACSA Award for Excellence in Improving Policy. The award was announced on October 28, 2008 at the NACSA Annual Conference in Indianapolis.

The Georgia Department of Education (“GA DOE”), a NACSA member, has been instrumental in advancing policy to support quality charter school growth in the state. This Member Spotlight features the GA DOE’s Andrew Broy, Associate State Superintendent for Policy, External Affairs, and Charter Schools. Andrew is a Teach for America alum and a driving force within the GA DOE and the state for quality charter schools.

That would be the same Charter Schools Commission mentioned in NACSA’s PR of 16 May 2011, NACSA Issues Statement on Georgia Supreme Court Ruling on Charter Schools Commission,

Today, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled to strike down the Georgia Charter Schools Commission. The ruling is in response to an appeal to the state’s court over local school board objections to direct funding to charter schools approved by the commission. Greg Richmond, President and CEO of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA), issued the following statement in response to the ruling.

“We live in a world where virtually all information is available to anyone, anywhere at any time. So it’s unfortunate that the Georgia Supreme Court has ruled that the state constitution gives “exclusive control” of public education to local school boards. Georgia should be expanding educational opportunities for children, not constricting them.”

And Zaid Jilani since discovered some information NACSA didn’t want us to know: NACSA was an ALEC affiliate. So yes, ALEC has been involved in pushing the Georgia charter school referendum, based on ALEC model bills, both through its captive legislators (remember, ALEC calls them “our state legislators”) and through ALEC affiliate NACSA.

ALEC has already help bring to Georgia private prisons, the HB-87 “anti-immigrant” law that feeds “customers” to private prisons, suppression of renewable solar and wind energy, and now charter schools. Do we really need another ALEC boondoggle? Let’s vote down that charter school referendum in November!