Fight Back Friday: Going undercover

Usually this weekly post urges you to do something. This week, we’re urging you to read and watch and learn. Of course, if you still have the hankering to physically do something, please help out the Educate NY Now! coalition in its efforts to restore cuts to education. You can also voice your concerns about the obsession with testing through NYSUT’s “Tell It Like It Is” campaign.

This week, we’re hoping you learn all you can about the American Legislative Exchange Council. This is the corporate-funded group that has been behind efforts limiting worker rights and privatizing public services. You might recall this report on how ALEC threatens public education.

Last week, teacher/activist Sabrina Stevens was able to get into a policy conference and task force meeting of ALEC in Washington, D.C. She writes here that she wanted to bring a grassroots message to some of the people playing a key role in the privatization of public schools. She decided she had to speak up.

Thinking as a teacher, I also can’t help but consider how all of those things will impact the classroom. If students’ guardians are working 70 or 80 hours a week because their bosses refuse to pay them a decent hourly wage, those bosses—and the people who let them get away with this—are making it unnecessarily difficult for said guardians to do things like attend parent-teacher conferences or get actively involved in the rest of the school community. By depressing wages (and dodging taxes), they’re also destroying the public funding base that supports public services like schools. And that means they’re forcing students to live with the social and emotional consequences that come with being surrounded by overworked and/or undervalued adults — both at home and at school. So those policies bother me just as much as the education policies under discussion in that particular room, as does the fact that the people making those policies have no clue about the lived experiences of those of us they impose them upon. Though our society has a bad habit of trying to force different issues into various, separate boxes, they simply cannot be treated as isolated bits. And there’s a reason why government is supposed to be of, by and for all the people: That’s the only way to get all of the information necessary to make decisions that work (more or less) for everyone, not just the people in power.

What happened next was captured on video. You can view the New Jersey affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers posting here.

ALEC supports vouchers, privatizing public education and undermining protection for students with disabilities. The Council also does not like environmental protections, but it does like guns.

Here’s more reporting on the undercover operation.

Learn all you can about ALEC.

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