Dennis Van Roekel – President, National Education Association Posted: 05/07/2013 11:52 am
Iron Man 3 just opened this past weekend, followed soon by more would-be blockbusters. I’m sure a lot of these movies will be entertaining, but none will be more important or relevant than a half-hour documentary I recently watched: The United States of ALEC.
This film, featuring Bill Moyers, does a masterful job of explaining how the closed-door manipulations of the American Legislative Exchange Council and its corporate lobbyists affect public policy in every realm of our society — including education.
Our nation spends about $500 billion in local, state and federal funds on public schools from kindergarten through high school. Most Americans view this as a wise investment in our nation’s future. Throughout the 20th century the U.S. was the clear leader in public education. We created the most vibrant economy the world has ever known. The record speaks for itself — public education is a great investment.
But there are people who look at our investment in public education, and they see a treasure chest. Their first thought is, how can they tap into those funds for their own private gain? If just one percent of education spending were diverted to private profit, it would mean $5 billion a year in someone’s pockets. And that’s just counting K-12; higher education is already a huge for-profit sector.
A simple fact of business: You have to spend money to make money. And those who want to privatize education are willing to spend lots of money and effort to push their agenda. One of the main ways they are doing this is through ALEC.