BREAKING NEWS: Kansas Eliminates Due Process for Teachers, Expands Privatization

Responding to the extremist group Americans for Prosperity, funded by the Koch brothers, the Kansas state legislature enacted legislation that strips teachers of due process and expands “school choice” (aka privatization of public schools and their funding). In the future, teachers may be fired without a hearing.

The legislature used the pretext of a court ruling to equalize funding to enact proposals that align with the far-right ALEC organization.

Destroying due process is called “reform.” Teachers may be unjustly accused and fired without a hearing. They may be fired because they taught both sides of a controversial issue or expressed a controversial view. They may be fired because the principal doesn’t like the way they look or doesn’t like their race or religion. No reason is needed because there will be no hearing.

Without any right to a fair hearing, you can be sure that the word “evolution” will never be heard in many districts, nor any reference to global warming. Nor will many classics of American literature be taught. Books like “Huckleberry Finn,” “Invisible Man,” “The Grapes of Wrath,” are risky and controversial. Now is exactly when the children of Kansas and the U.S. should be reading “1984″ and “Brave New World.”

“The bill is potentially a big victory for conservative Republicans because it gives them some educational reforms they have sought while putting more money into schools.

The reforms would:

• Foster school choice by allowing corporations to make tax-deductible contributions to scholarship funds so children with special needs or who come from low-income households could attend private school.

• Make it easier to fire teachers by eliminating their due-process rights.

• Relax teacher licensing when hiring instructors with professional experience in areas including math, science, finance and technical education.

“As the final bill was negotiated, lawmakers jettisoned an idea to block funding for Common Core academic standards.

“They also shed a plan that would have provided property tax relief for parents who home-school their children or send them to private schools. Lawmakers questioned whether the property tax break was constitutional and whether they knew its real cost.

“Urged on by conservative special interests such as Americans for Prosperity, Republican leaders pressed hard to eliminate due process rights for teachers.

“They say the proposal is intended to ensure that school administrators are free from regulations that would keep them from firing substandard teachers.

“If you talk to administrators, they want this,” said Sen. Julia Lynn, an Olathe Republican. “They want really good teachers to thrive. They don’t want to be in a position to protect those teachers who are under-performing.”

“State law had required administrators to document conduct and provide a hearing for teachers they want to fire after three years on the job.

“The bill means terminated teachers would no longer be able to request a hearing.”

Read more here:

The teacher-hating GOP extremists backed by ALEC/Koch Brothers are destroying education in this country. 


The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the Koch-backed free market lobbying group that spends most of its time dreaming up ways to screw over the environment, learned the hard way that outright climate denial is a losing message: in the fall of 2014, Google chairman Eric Schmidt accused ALEC of “just literally lying” about climate change and announced that Google would not be continuing its membership in the group. The ensuing exodus basically confirmed that the public’s beginning to see through the group’s (persuasively crafted) bullshit.

America appears to finally be catching on to renewable energy’s clear benefits

Undercover investigations have exposed patterns of horrific animal welfare abuses on factory farms and slaughterhouses, and led to criminal convictions and public health investigations. Rather than addressing these problems, a powerful organization called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) wants to criminalize anyone who brings animal abuse to light…

This bring us to “ag-gag” bills which target whistleblowers, undercover investigators, and journalists. They have been introduced in 9 states this year, and last year they became law in 3 states. Some go so far as to criminalize anyone who “possesses” or “distributes” photographs and YouTube videos. As NPR reported, this isn’t just about animal activists: these bills put journalists at risk.

Who is behind this? Big Ag corporations, working with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC has a model bill that labels whistleblowers, investigators, and those who share the footage as “terrorists.”


Petition | ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council): Exposing animal abuse is not a crime! |

Even if you care nothing about animals, you have to understand that this will make your food unsafe to eat.

Advocacy Group Files IRS Complaint Against ALEC, Seeks Audit

A day after a front-page New York Times investigation highlighted the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) as a “conservative nonprofit” that “acts as a stealth business lobbyist,” a good-government group announced it has filed an IRS complaint against the corporate front group.

ALEC, the “association for conservative state lawmakers who shared a common belief in limited government, free markets, federalism, and individual liberty,” has pushed an extreme legislative agenda in states across the country, pushing “shoot-first” “stand your ground” laws and voter suppression efforts.

In recent weeks, at least a dozen companies announced they would no longer fund ALEC — following pressure from a Color of Change national campaign — and ALEC announced it would refocus its efforts away from “non-economic issues.” Last week, the group’s Louisiana state chairman resigned from the group.

Now, Common Cause is asking the Internal Revenue Service to take action; the group is requesting the agency audit ALEC’s work, impose penalties, and compel payment of back taxes. Common Cause President Bob Edgar (a former Democratic U.S. Rep. from Pennsylvania) said the group is masquerading as a public charity.

As a 501©(3) tax-exempt “charitable” organization, donations to the group are tax-deductible. But IRS rules state that ©(3)s must “not be organized or operated for the benefit of private interests” and “may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities.

Maddow unveils ALEC’s replacement: The National Center for Public Policy

On her show Monday night, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow explained that the National Center for Public Policy was expected to take over the role of the embattled American Legislative Exchange Council.

Liberal and progressive groups have waged a successful campaign against ALEC, which drafts corporation-friendly “model” legislation for state lawmakers. The little-known but influential organization has been a driving force behind voter ID laws, so-called “stand your ground” laws, business-friendly tort reforms, Arizona’s controversial immigration law, and efforts to privatize public education.

But as corporate members of ALEC continue to leave the organization, the National Center for Public Policy has stepped up to the plate. The organization announced it was launching a “Voter Identification Task Force” after ALEC disbanded its Public Safety and Elections task force.

“Corporate money has always wormed its way into politics,” Maddow said. “Guys like Jack Abramoff and Tom Delay and Ralph Reed and Tony Rudy made a transfixing illegal art form out of doing that.”


Last week, Atlanta television station WXIA-TV aired a shocking exposé revealing the private conference rooms where legislators and lobbyists from the American Legislative Exchange Council, the Koch-backed, anti-environment group make laws without the input of civilians. On Wednesday, ALEC responded to the report, arguing that the news cameras caught their spokesperson “off-guard.”

“The ALEC media policy clearly states which meetings are open”


In honor of the California students who came out of the shadows today, I have decided to help several Mississippi Legislature “come out” about their status… as members of the American Legislative Exchange Council!  It’s hard to live a double life, I’m sure they’ll find my help to be a liberating experience for them, just these undocumented students found their “coming out” experience to be liberating for them! and would welcome your phone calls about their approval of Voter ID, Personhood, Book Censorship, and Anti-Immigrant rhetoric.

On behalf of freedom lovers everywhere, I give them a nice ¡NO MAMES!

From top to bottom:

Rep. Bobby Howell, Rep. Jessica Upshaw, Rep. Randall Patterson, Rep. Sam Mims V, Rep. Tom Weathersby, Rep. Bill Denny, Rep. Mark Formby, Sen. Dean Kirby, Sen. Joey Fillingane, Sen. Melanie Sojourner.

Happy coming out of the shadows day!
BREAKING: Johnson & Johnson Drops ALEC

Pharmaceutical giant Johnson and Johnson announced todaythat they are dropping their membership from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

Johnson and Johnson has been facing mounting pressure following a push from Color of Change and other progressive groups to leave the conservative agenda-setting group.

Other groups that have dropped ALEC include: WalmartAmazon.comCoca-ColaPepsiCo,KraftWendy’sMars, Inc.Arizona Public Service, the National Board for Professional Teaching StandardsScantron, The National Association of Charter School AuthorizersKaplanProcter & GambleYum! Brandsfive Pennsylvania legislatorsBlue Cross/Blue ShieldReed Elsevier,American Traffic SolutionsIntuit, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

h/t: Annie-Rose Strasser at Think Progress Justice

How the Private Water Industry Is Teaming Up With ALEC

An influential trade association representing companies that provide water services to one in four Americans says it will continue its membership with the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative group that has worked with the energy industry to create loophole-filled water protections and opposes federal oversight of fracking.

The National Association of Water Companies represents the far-reaching privatized water utility industry that serves “nearly 73 million people every day,” according to the association’s website. NAWC represents more than 150 private water companies, each of whom pay an annual fee to the association. Its board of directors is drawn from the leadership of some of the country’s largest water companies.

NAWC works with ALEC to persuade state and local officials to adopt policies favorable to the private water industry. NAWC declined to comment on when it first became involved with ALEC and the amount it pays in annual dues. According to The New York Times, ALEC “is primarily financed by more than 200 private-sector members, whose annual dues of $7,000 to $25,000 accounted for most of its $7 million budget in 2010.”

Full article

Blasted open by a whistleblower last year, troves of ALEC insider documents were made available via The Nation magazine and the Center for Media and Democracy in July.

The Texas Independent previously reported on ALEC’s influence and its model bills that match Texas legislation in areas of higher education reform and tobacco law. ALEC also has ties to controversial conservative think tank, the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF)– which serves as an ALEC-bill advocate in the state, as the Texas Independent reported. An August Think Progress analysis comprehensively highlights the striking impact ALEC has on Texas legislation.

ALEC has given more than $16.2 million to Texas politicians since 2001 and the state ranks second in highest total contributions from ALEC nationwide. Top recipients of ALEC funds include Republican Representatives Tom Craddick ($878,110), Rep. Tony Fraser ($314,583) and Rep. Phil King ($164,435). But Gov. Rick Perry stands as ALEC’s favorite legislator in the nation, leading as the top recipient of ALEC donations overall. The GOP presidential candidate has seen more than $2 million from the group since 2004.
ALEC Influence Could Dismantle Ohio's Clean Energy Policies

Ever heard of ALEC?

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The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) connects fossil fuel interests to legislators. And they are behind a coordinated effort to dismantle clean energy laws across the country. Ohio’s clean energy policies are currently at risk. 

But you might not know it…

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Even though the legislators pushing the anti-clean energy bill are deep in ALEC’s pocket.

Of the 21 Senators who voted “yes,” 15 are members of ALEC. None of the Senators who voted “no” have ties to ALEC.

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Ted Cruz Suggests His Own Election To The Senate Should Be Unconstitutional

Speaking at the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council on Thursday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) embraced the oddly common view among Tea Partiers that American voters should not be allowed to choose their own senators. According to Cruz, “prior to the Seventeenth Amendment,” which provided that voters and not state lawmakers will select U.S. senators, “the state legislatures’ ability and authority to select senators was a powerful check on the federal government coming and intruding on the prerogatives of the state.” “[I]f you have the ability to hire and fire me,” Cruz added, “I’m a lot less likely to break into your house and steal your television. So there’s no doubt that [the Seventeenth Amendment] was a major step toward the explosion of federal power and the undermining of the authority of the states at the local level.”

Most people would be surprised to learn that a sitting senator could steal their television set, regardless of who placed the senator in office. Nevertheless, Cruz’s remarks provide a helpful window into the unusual way many Tea Party thinkers view government. The reason why legislators at all levels should be chosen by the voters is because legislatures exist to serve the interest of the people they represent — and thus lawmakers should be accountable to the very people they serve. Both the states and the federal government are constructs created to enable local and central governments to serve the people.

At the ALEC conference, however, Cruz offers a very different vision of the role of the states. The implication of his view is that state lawmakers are not just servants of the people they represent, but that they are also themselves deserving of representation in Congress equal to the representation provided to the voters themselves. (There are two houses of Congress. Under Cruz’s vision, one represents the people and the other represents state lawmakers.) Indeed, the Senate is the more powerful of the two houses of Congress because it alone has the power to confirm nominees and to ratify treaties. The effect of Cruz’s vision is to establish the Senate as a kind of House of Lords ensuring that a narrow band of elites will wield influence in Washington equal to that of the people themselves.


There is also another important reason why the United States abandoned the model Scalia and Cruz prefer and provided that senators should be elected by the people. As David Gans explains, the old system of having state lawmakers select senators “led to rampant and blatant corruption, letting corporations and other moneyed interests effectively buy U.S. Senators, and tied state legislatures up in numerous, lengthy deadlocks over whom to send to Washington, leaving those bodies with far less time to devote to the job of enacting the laws their states needed for the welfare of the people.”

This is a high price to pay for making the Senate more like the House of Lords.