Unfortunately most of the bills coming from Litzow & Co. are right out of the ALEC playbook. We have watched this happen across the country with tragic effects and now legislators with ties to Stand for Children are taking the lead to continue the efforts of privatizing public schools in our state.

There are ways to make our voices heard and it is imperative that we do. A few with money and dollar signs in their eyes are whispering into the ears of some of our legislators. It’s time for the rest of us to be heard loudly and clearly.

You can call the hotline at  1-800-562-6000 and leave a message regarding a particular bill, call or e-mail individual legislators  in Olympia or take a day off and visit them. If you want to visit your legislators, make appointments with them or a staff member and carpool with other parents, teachers, concerned citizens and even students, providing them with a great lesson in civics.

Also, because the Seattle Times has simply become a mouthpiece for business interests in their op-ed’s, an editorial offered to community newspapers and blogs is an opportunity to inform the public of what a few are trying to push through as state legislation.

Here is a little bit about the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) from ALEC Exposed:

Eliminating tenure for teachers in favor of “performance,” allowing districts to fire older teachers in favor of lower-cost young teachers.

Undermining teacher’s unions indirectly through the above bills, and directly through bills like this one, this one, and this one. See also the anti-union bills on the Worker Rights page.

Connections Academy, a large online education corporation and co-chair of the Education Task Force, benefits from ALEC measures to privatize public education and promote private on-line schools.

ALEC is not a lobby; it is not a front group. It is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, behind closed doors, corporations hand state legislators the changes to the law they desire that directly benefit their bottom line. Along with legislators, corporations have membership in ALEC. Corporations sit on all nine ALEC task forces and vote with legislators to approve “model” bills. They have their own corporate governing board which meets jointly with the legislative board.

Corporations fund almost all of ALEC’s operations. Participating legislators, overwhelmingly conservative Republicans, then bring those proposals home and introduce them in statehouses across the land as their own brilliant ideas and important public policy innovations—without disclosing that corporations crafted and voted on the bills. ALEC boasts that it has over 1,000 of these bills introduced by legislative members every year, with one in every five of them enacted into law. ALEC describes itself as a “unique,” “unparalleled” and “unmatched” organization. We agree. It is as if a state legislature had been reconstituted, yet corporations had pushed the people out the door.

Who funds ALEC?

More than 98% of ALEC’s revenues come from sources other than legislative dues, such as corporations, corporate trade groups, and corporate foundations. Each corporate member pays an annual fee of between $7,000 and $25,000 a year, and if a corporation participates in any of the nine task forces, additional fees apply, from $2,500 to $10,000 each year. ALEC also receives direct grants from corporations, such as $1.4 million from ExxonMobil from 1998-2009. It has also received grants from some of the biggest foundations funded by corporate CEOs in the country, such as: the Koch family Charles G. Koch Foundation, the Koch-managed Claude R. Lambe Foundation, the Scaife family Allegheny Foundation, the Coors family Castle Rock Foundation, to name a few. Less than 2% of ALEC’s funding comes from “Membership Dues” of $50 per year paid by state legislators, a steeply discounted price that may run afoul of state gift bans. For more, see CMD’s special report on ALEC funding and spending here.

ALEC provides bill templates regarding education that legislators can choose from and “personalize”.

The two bills that will be heard next week and are the worst of the lot focus on judging teachers and schools based on standardized test scores and is referred to as high stakes testing which benefits no one. The focus becomes what will be on the test, narrowing the curriculum and quite frankly taking the joy out of learning and teaching…but I guess that’s just for kids in private schools these days.

Even The Wire got it: Jukin’ the stats.

By the way, wouldn’t it be nice if these same legislators used their time and energy on finding money to adequately fund our schools, which is constitutionally their paramount duty per the McCleary Act, instead of coming up with more pricey legislation?

First is Senate Bill  5246 : Teacher and principal evaluations would be based on student test scores in terms of “growth” and the only test now available that purportedly shows “growth” is the discredited MAP test.

There will be a public hearing on this bill on Monday, February 4th at 1:30 pm by the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee, SHR 1.

All are invited to attend and make your voices heard.

This next bill, House Bill 1476, would grade schools and districts based on test scores.

What has occurred around the country is that this is used as a way to close schools and either leave the buildings empty in (minority) neighborhoods or convert them into charter schools. The second process is referred to as a “school turnaround” and is a way to privatize schools and eventually an entire district as has been done in New Orleans and coming soon to Philadelphia.

There will be a hearing on this bill on Tuesday, February 5 at 1:30 PM by the House Education Committee. All are welcomed to attend.

Senate Bill 5328 is the same bill on the Senate side. You can submit a comment online at Public Comment on Bill 5328 and I highly recommend doing so.


Apparently wording was taken out of the Senate Bill on grading schools and districts about the exemption of charter schools but if you read the bills…

In the bill re: teacher and principal evaluations:

 1)(a) Except as provided in subsection (2) of this section, the

7 superintendent of public instruction shall establish and may amend from

8 time to time minimum criteria for the evaluation of the professional

9 performance capabilities and development of certificated classroom

10 teachers and certificated support personnel.

In the bill re: school and district grades:

1)(a) Except as provided in subsection (2) of this section, the

7 superintendent of public instruction shall establish and may amend from

8 time to time minimum criteria for the evaluation of the professional

9 performance capabilities and development of certificated classroom

10 teachers and certificated support personnel.

According to Initiative 1240, OSPI is not to oversee charter schools. Therefore, with this language, charter schools would automatically be exempted from this proposed legislation.

What these legislators are doing in our state is not new, see what happened in Wisconsin last Spring:

From the Center for Media and Democracy:

Wisconsin Education Reform Only ALEC Could Love

Measuring Teacher Performance, But Not at Voucher Schools

Also winding their way through the legislature are Senate Bill 461 and Assembly Bill 558, proposals Governor Walker alluded to in his January State of the State address. The bills include grants related to literacy and early childhood development, and also address teacher licensure, evaluating teacher preparatory programs, and educator effectiveness. Senator Darling is also an author of these measures.

The legislation echoes ALEC’s model Teacher Quality and Recognition Demonstration Act and their “model” Education Accountability Act, including the emphasis on “performance based accountability.” The Wisconsin bill would mandate that 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation is based on student performance on standardized tests and other assessments. ALEC’s accountability act says criteria for measuring school quality “must address” in some manner “the results of standardized tests that measure both minimal competencies and higher order skills.”

State School Superintendent Tony Evers, who is an elected offiical, is critical of Senate Bill 461 and Assembly Bill 558 because they do not require the state’s voucher schools to screen students or offer remedial services. Also missing from the legislation are provisions embodied in the state’s No Child Left Behind waiver request to subject all schools receiving public funds — including Title I schools, non-Title I schools, charter schools and voucher schools — to the proposed new state accountability system. Evers says Walker and the legislative Republicans previously agreed to include these measures in this legislation.

Evers says the agreement called for students in voucher schools and charter schools to take the same tests and abide by the same new standards that students in regular public schools will live by. Voucher schools would qualify for the new literacy and early childhood development grants, and teachers in voucher schools would have to abide by the new rules for teacher licensure, teacher preparatory programs and educator effectiveness. Senate Bill 461 and Assembly Bill 558 have none of that.

“While everyone claimed that we were creating this system together, it seems as if some have walked away,” Evers said in a statement. “This missed opportunity is more than a step backward. Today’s inaction leaves absolutely unclear whether the choice schools and charter schools receiving tens of millions of dollars in public funding will have public accountability. It looks as if the common accountability system that last summer seemed agreed upon may not happen.”

Recommended articles:

Diane Ravitch: What You Need To Know About ALEC

A Smart ALEC Threatens Public Education

Bobby Jindal, Using ALEC Playbook, Radically Reshapes Public Education

For a list of or legislative representatives who are also members of ALEC, go to Washington ALEC Politicians.

And finally, Bill Moyers on ALEC:

Dora Taylor