ALEC-Backed Laws Promote Controversial Charter Schools

Source: Matthew Charles Cardinale, IPS-Inter Press Service, February 27, 2013

The right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and private education management firms are pushing for new “parent trigger” laws in states across the U.S. by lobbying many Republican and some Democratic legislators to make it easier to convert more traditional public schools to charter schools….Charter schools are the latest scheme to privatise public education in the U.S., and are seen as more politically feasible than “voucher” proposals that would give students vouchers to purchase private schooling. Many charter schools are operated by for-profit educational management firms, which receive sometimes lucrative contracts to operate the schools….

…The parent trigger legislation being pushed by ALEC and other pro-charter lobbyists creates a petition process, whereby a majority of dissatisfied parents at a school could force the school to take one of several actions. Often the preferred action is to convert to a charter school to be managed by a private company.

Another type of legislation being pushed by ALEC is to create a statewide charter school commission that could override the decisions of local school boards. Such a commission has been established in Georgia.

As of June 2012, seven U.S. states had enacted parent trigger legislation, beginning with California in 2010, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The other six states are Connecticut, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio, and Texas. In California, a group called Parent Revolution was founded with more than one million dollars from foundations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation to push for the parent trigger law. “An integral part of improving education in Georgia is greater parent buy-in to their children’s education. …