In the wake of the Trayvon Martin situation people are taking a look at ALEC – the American Legislative Exchange Council – a conservative-leaning state legislators organization and a promulgator of a variety of laws including the increasingly controversial “stand your ground” laws. Ed Kilgore explains how ALEC (and many other groups on the right and left) exploit the under-staffing of state legislators by providing “just add water” model legislation on various issues.
The real money behind ALEC is business, ALEC is a staunch anti-regulatory, anti-tax, and pro-business force. A couple of ways the organization touches education policy (they have an education task force) is by supporting aggressively pro-corporate liability laws that make it hard for states to hold corporations accountable. This is why there is often so little recourse beyond actual costs (which rarely are that much) when testing companies make major errors. They’re [ALEC] also big boosters of the tax credit scholarship programs that are springing up in multiple states. So in general a happy coexistence. But, fundamentally what business wants is good schools – provides skilled workers for the future and attracts workers to various geographies now. Increasingly what many of the legislators in ALEC want is local control, an almost purely choice-driven system, and other very conservative education touchstones. There is a conflict there. You saw a flash of it last year with the ALEC debate over Common Core. Assuming education policy continues on a generally centrist path expect more.