To the Editor:
As the director of the education task force at the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC—the organization singled out in a recent edweek.org blog post by Diane Ravitch, “What You Need To Know About Alec” (May 1, 2012)—I felt compelled to respond. Ms. Ravitch would like you to believe that all of the education reforms that have happened in the past few years are because of ALEC. In reality, we are far from alone in this effort. There are dozens of organizations on both sides of the political spectrum that have spent decades promoting the policies we support. In fact, President Barack Obama has done more for charter schools and teaching-profession reforms than any other administration. Apparently, our ideas are only acceptable if they stay confined to think tanks, books, and intellectual debates. Now, as decades of work are paying off in policy changes, the other side is crying foul.
Alec supports policies that empower parents with choices, reward teachers for merit, and hold schools accountable for financial and academic outcomes. We pursue these aims by gathering state legislators, businesses, nonprofit researchers, and others to debate and endorse policies that are worthy of attention. Ms. Ravitch takes exception to the notion that legislators are engaged in a practice of introducing legislation containing ideas that are not their own. This is the basic foundation of a representative democracy, which she well knows.
Our model bills are policy proposals written in a format that legislators deal with every day. We do not lobby, endorse specific legislation at the state level, or involve ourselves with tailoring our policies to fit the specific statutory framework of individual states. If we are asked for policy guidance we give it, and if we see reform take place we celebrate it—just like any other group.
Director, Education Task Force
American Legislative Exchange Council
A version of this article appeared in the May 16, 2012 edition of Education Week as ALEC Responds to Ravitch Blog Post