Progress Florida examines ALEC’s role in educationby John Kennedy | June 25th, 2013
Progress Florida, the liberal advocacy organization, released a report Tuesday examining the wide-ranging influence the American Legislative Exchange Council has on public education in Florida and across the nation.
ALEC, which has been criticized as a collaboration of multinational corporations and conservative lawmakers, has become a premier force behind the charter school movement, corporate voucher programs and online education, Progress Florida concludes.
“Floridians need to know who is representing, and how cozy their lawmakers are with, the for-profit education industrial complex,” said Mark Ferrulo, executive director of Progress Florida.
ALEC helped shape sweeping changes to the Florida Retirement System proposed in the state Legislature this spring. Although the plan advanced by House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, failed to clear the Senate, Weatherford has said he expects the measure to be back next year.
ALEC also has advocated changes in environmental and labor laws, voter ID measures and pro-gun laws such as the “stand your ground” legislation, which came into focus following Trayvon Martin’s shooting death last year in Central Florida.
In Florida, where free-market conservative Republicans control every phase of state government, ALEC’s model bills have proved a touchstone for many policies. But the model legislation can also prove a two-way street, with ALEC’s stand-your-ground proposal shopped nationally after first being approved by Florida lawmakers.