voter suppression

BOYCOTT PEARSON NOW!

Pearson, ALEC, and the Brave New (Corporate) World:
Stand Up to Pearson Now!

(Publisher’s Note: We have revised our Boycott Pearson boycottinformation for clarity and in order to add additional research – please use this version, posted April 29, 2012, when sharing.)

 

Supporters of Public Education,

The curtain has been pulled aside recently from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), exposing the seedy underbelly of our democracy. Organizations like ALEC circumvent the democratic process in favor of corporations. Financial resources are used to influence public officials and provide model legislation meant to easily pass through state houses of governance. Recent examples include infamous “Stand Your Ground” laws and others that seek to limit the voting rights of marginalized populations. Education reform legislation is also part of ALEC’s agenda, with substantial sponsorship from corporate funds to divert the flow of valuable taxpayer dollars away from public schools.

ALEC-inspired advocacy for public education reform typically follows a path to privatization; that is, viewing educational practices vis-à-vis economic and capitalist principles. Strict school choice models, vouchers, private charter management organizations, and the erosion of collective bargaining rights are all examples of the economic management of public education. As opposed to a valuable public good, certain entities prevalent in the education reform debate are forcing schools to motivate themselves by profit and competition. What it means to be an educated person (e.g., college and career ready), what is important to teach (e.g., common standards), and how success is measured (e.g., standardized tests) are currently under significant transformation without the thorough vetting via democratic processes. And with the frustration and confusion ensuing from rapid developments occurring behind closed doors, outside the public spotlight of democracy, there are large corporations conveniently present to sell us products that will solve all of our problems.

Pearson is one such entity that as of late always seems to be at the right place and precisely at the right time. In other words, just as new legislation is passed, as new educational mandates are set, Pearson is suddenly able to provide the legions of educators and school systems clamoring for some kind of answer with just the right product. How can this be? In recent years, this once relatively small publishing house turned itself into a massive provider of a range of educational products, from traditional print materials for the K-12 sector, higher education resources and technology solutions for public school systems. It is one thing to have various products to sell and to allow the marketplace to judge their success or failure. It is another matter to reorganize the rules so that Pearson products are all one needs to buy to satisfy a range of emerging Federal and State education mandates.

For better or for worse, education reform in the United States is largely controlled by legislation. It appears then that Pearson is successfully implementing a two-pronged approach: grease the democratic process in their favor so that certain rules must be followed and from the other side perfectly match their own products so they have exactly what can be bought to satisfy those requirements. Pearson, through connections to ALEC, has become the dominant provider of education resources and services in the K-12 and post-secondary markets. The following are some of the affiliations that made this perfect alignment possible:

  • Pearson acquired the Connections Academy, whose co-founder and executive VP is Mickey Revenaugh, is also the co-chair of the ALEC Education Task Force. In September of 2004, Connections Academy was sold to an investor group led by Apollo Management, L.P. In the fall of 2011, Pearson acquired Connections Education, establishing a leading position in the fast-growing virtual school segment and the opportunity to apply Connections Education’s skills and technologies in new segments and geographic markets.
  • According to Pearson’s website: “Pearson Education and the University of Phoenix (a subsidiary of Apollo Management Group), the largest private (for-profit) university in the United States announced a partnership which will accelerate the University’s move to convert its course materials to electronic delivery.” [emphasis added]. As such, Pearson will certainly provide the materials and the mode of transmission. It must also be stated here that many for-profit universities have been under investigation for student loan fraud and unethical recruitment practices. The CEO of AMG, Charles (Chaz) Edelstein, was Managing Director of Credit Suisse and Head of the Global Services group within the Investment Banking division, based in Chicago. He is also on the Board of Directors for Teach for America, which is a provider of temporary and inexperienced teachers and also frequently associated with corporate education reform. One prominent name in this regard is TFA alum Michelle Rhee, the failed former Chancellor of DC public schools.
  • America’s Choice was also recently acquired by Pearson. This organization is directly associated with the Lumina, Broad, and Walton Foundations, all active members of ALEC. They each promote so-called “innovations” that appeal to the corporate and for-profit mindset.
  • Bryan Cave, LLP is the lobbying firm for Pearson. Edward Koch is currently one of the partners at Bryan Cave. Edward Koch sits conveniently and comfortably on the board for StudentsFirst NY, a branch of the national initiative StudentsFirst, which is the brainchild of failed former Chancellor of DC public schools Michelle Rhee. It must also be stated that Rhee’s tenure is under a dark cloud of investigation for rampant test cheating and tampering in the district.
  • Pearson is contracted with Stanford University to deliver the Teacher Performance Assessment (TPA) to more than 25 participating states. According to Pearson’s website, “TPA is led by Stanford University, American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, and Pearson.” Furthermore, “Pearson’s electronic portfolio management system will support candidates, institutions of higher education, and state educational agencies by providing registration and account management services, submission of the portfolio for scoring and results reporting.” [emphasis added]. Pearson provides the administrative management skills and broad-based technology and delivery systems that will support the Teacher Performance Assessment (TPA) and bring it to a national scale. Stanford University’s Office of Technology Licensing (OTL) selected Pearson to provide these needed services for the TPA. Let it be known that the U.S. Dept. of Ed. is currently considering teacher preparation programs to be evaluated based on accountability measures similar to public schools.
  • Sir Michael Barber is the current Chief Education Advisor for Pearson. It is no secret that Mr. Barber is a powerful advocate for the free-market approach to education, including union busting, merit pay, and turning public schools into privately run charters.
  • Pearson contracts with Achieve to manage the PARCC assessments. Achieve is funded by Lumina, State Farm (both members of ALEC) and The Alliance for Excellence in Education (AEE). AEE chairman Bob Wise is a regular contributor to and participant with the ALEC educational agenda. Moreover, PARCC awarded Pearson a contract in January to develop a new Technology Readiness Tool, which will support state education agencies to evaluate and determine needed technology and infrastructure upgrades for the new online assessments. Pray tell, who will sell those upgrades?
  • The Tucker Capital Corporation acted as exclusive advisor to The American Council on Education (ACE) and Pearson on the creation of a groundbreaking new business that will drive the future direction, design, and delivery of the GED testing program.
  • The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) partners with a whole cast of other organizations that promote a corporate, anti-public education reform agenda. CCSSO Central “partners” include (among others) McGraw-Hill and Pearson. CCSSO Director Tom Luna works closely with Jeb Bush, whose associations with ALEC and corporate-reform are too numerous to mention.
  • GradNation is a special project of America’s Promise Alliance, sponsored by Alma and Gen. Colin Powell. Grad Nation sponsors include State Farm (ALEC), the Walton Foundation (ALEC), AT&T (on the corporate board of ALEC), The Boeing Company (ALEC), the Pearson Foundation and Philip Morris USA (ALEC). The GradNation Summit list of presenters reads like an ALEC yearbook.
  • Gen. Colin Powell sits on the Board of Directors for The Council for Foreign Relations, which issued an “Education Reform and National Security” report (co-chaired by Joel Klein and Condoleeza Rice, directed by Julia Levy). The report states, among other things, that: “The Task Force believes that though revamping expectations for students should be a state-led effort, a broader coalition … including the defense community, businesses leaders, the U.S. Department of Education, and others … also has a meaningful role to play in monitoring and supporting implementation and creating incentives to motivate states to adopt high expectations. The Defense Policy Board, which advises the secretary of defense, and other leaders from the public and private sectors should evaluate the learning standards of education in America and periodically assess whether what and how students are learning is sufficiently rigorous to protect the country’s national security interests.” [emphasis added].
  • According to Susan Ohanian: “In the introduction to the Education Reform and National Security report, Julia Levy, Project Director, thanks ‘the several people who met with and briefed the Task Force group including the U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Mary Cullinane formerly of Microsoft [Philadelphia School of the Future] [now Vice President of Corporate and Social Responsibility for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt], Sir Michael Barber of Pearson and David Coleman of Student Achievement Partners …’ They were briefed by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and Pearson.”
  • Pearson has partnered with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to create a series of digital instructional resources. In November 2011, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation gave ALEC $376,635 to educate and engage its membership on more efficient state budget approaches to drive greater student outcomes, as well as educate them on beneficial ways to recruit, retain, evaluate and compensate effective teaching based upon merit and achievement (the Gates Foundation recently withdrew its support for ALEC under the heat of public pressure). However, their billions of dollars still flow to other far-reaching organizations dedicated to dismantling public education.
  • The National Board of Professional Teaching Standards is a private-sector member of ALEC. Bob Wise (Chairman, of NBPTS) and Alliance for Excellent Education presented on “National Board’s Fund Initiative to Grow Great Schools” at the Education Task Force Meeting at the 2011 ALEC annual picnic. According to the NBPTS website, they “announced that it has awarded Pearson a five-year contract for the period 2009-2013 to develop, administer and score its National Board Certification program for accomplished teachers. Pearson will collaborate with NBPTS to manage its advanced teacher certification program in 25 certificate areas that span 16 subject areas.”
  • Pearson has also acquired partnerships with companies to deliver PARCC, SAT testing, GED testing, and was the central player (through Achieve) in the design of the National Common Core Standards. The GED Testing Service, while wholly owned by the American Council for Education, entered into a joint venture with Pearson to transform the GED for some 40 million adult Americans (one in five adults) lacking a high school diploma. This is an entirely new market.

Even with all of Pearson’s efforts, they are not the only game in town. McGraw-Hill is another publisher forging similar connections and making money hand over fist due to NCLB-mandated reading programs like Open Court and SRA Reading Mastery. Of course, after billions spent on Reading First and the McGraw-Hill materials, the federally funded evaluation of the program showed no increase in reading comprehension by third grade. McGraw-Hill is also one of the biggest test publishers in the U.S. and publishes the CTBS, the central competitor to Pearson’s illustrious SAT-10.

The legislation forced upon states to adopt the curriculum (i.e., the Common Core) and its required testing measures (i.e., PARCC) essentially eliminates the possibility of consumer choice (supposedly a key concept in free market ideology) and requires that taxpayer dollars for education be handed over to Pearson and McGraw-Hill as the sole providers of nearly all educational resources available to the schools. It is frightening that Pearson, profiting billions from public education, is simultaneously operated by and sponsors organizations that promote the destruction of public education. It is essentially forcing the public to pay for the demise of its own education system.

It is possible that Pearson and its allies will deny and attempt to refute the information bulleted above. Perhaps the magnitude of their efforts will project the magnitude of their guilt. Whatever the semantics here, if a connection is really an association, if ownership is actually sponsorship, or if partnership actually means membership, it is interesting and coincidental that the above cast of characters constantly find themselves associated with each other. Additionally, the common friend to all seems to be Pearson.

If Pearson is truly interested in profit, as all corporations typically are, then consumer pressure is the best way to be heard. We at United Opt Out National are calling on everyone to take a stand against Pearson by doing any or all of the following:

  • Refuse to buy their materials or adopt them in your courses or for personal use.
  • Bring these concerns to local PTAs, school boards and libraries.
  • If required to use Pearson products due to professional obligations, do so under public protest.
  • Promote the use of ACT rather than SAT, as SAT is a Pearson product.
  • Inform Pearson of your actions.
  • If you are in higher education, discuss your concerns with your local Pearson representative, informing them that for these purposes you are not going to adopt their materials in any of your courses.

Raise public awareness so the brakes can be put on this madness. Please click here to see Education News’ sample letter, which you are encouraged to share so that others may refuse Pearson products.

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This article is written by or from a variety of publications on EducationViews.org on March 11, 2013 and is published in Education News.
Education Newshttp://educationviews.org/boycott-pearson-now/#
Please visit their site to read the Pearson Boycott Letter
and to sign your name and intention to Boycott Pearson
in their Comment Section by clicking here

Conservative lobby group behind push to lower minimum wage

Politicians backed by conservative group Alec have introduced 67 laws in 25 states aimed at reducing minimum wage levels

AARP Hosts Job Fair For Workers Over 50 In New York

Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The conservative lobbying group Alec has been behind a major push against the pay rates of low-wage American workers by sponsoring or supporting scores of new laws aimed at weakening their protections, a new survey has found.

Since 2011, politicians backed by the American Legislative Exchange Council, which has hit the headlines for previous campaigns on voting rights and gun laws, have introduced 67 different laws in 25 different states on the issue.

The proposed laws are generally aimed at reducing minimum wage levels, weakening overtime protection or stopping the local creation of minimum wage laws in cities or states. Using language similar to “model bill” templates drafted by Alec, they were put forward by local politicians who are almost always Republican and affiliated with the powerful conservative group.

Critics say Alec is backed by powerful corporate groups that are seeking to draft legislation that serves their business interests. “Public scrutiny is the best weapon against their agenda,” said Jack Temple, a policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project, which advocates on workers’ rights and drew up the report.

Eleven of the 67 bills eventually became law. They included an Arizona bill weakening public sector wage contracts, an Idaho bill preventing state and local government from adopting some wage laws and New Hampshire legislation that repealed that state’s minimum wage law.

The phenomenon has come as the US economy struggles to recover from the impact of the Great Recession. Even though corporate profits are high and the stock market has soared to new record levels, job growth has been tepid and real wages largely stagnant as the economy has shifted in a low-wage direction. One study has found that around 60% of jobs lost during the recession were middle or high wage while some 58% of new jobs in the recovery have been in low-wage sectors.

“With real wages for low wage workers already declining in the post-recession recovery, the last thing America’s workers need is frontal assault on pay and overall compensation by state legislatures,” said Christine Owens, Nelp’s executive director.

Indeed, President Barack Obama called for a rise in the minimum wage in his state of the union address in January, though many experts see such a move as unlikely to pass Congress. Alec, meanwhile, denies it is attacking workers’ rights. “I feel that the Nelp report unfairly casts Alec as a suppressor or oppressor of American workers. We are not against employees of companies. Rather, we believe the market should dictate wages,” said an Alec spokesman.

Alec has come under fire several times in recent years for its campaigns. After drawing serious criticism from civil rights groups for its backing of stand-your-ground gun laws and also voter ID legislation, Alec decided last year to abandon campaigning on social policy issues in favour of concentrating on economic policies.

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This article is written by Paul Harris and is posted at http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2013/mar/06/alec-minimum-wage-report
The Guardian home

Bills filed as NC legislature begins in earnest

A look at some of the bills filed at the North Carolina General Assembly on Wednesday, the first work day for the 2013 session:

— House and Senate Republicans filed bills identical bills that would block the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act and leave it to the federal government to build the state’s online marketplace for health insurance. The Senate version was expected to be heard in committee Thursday and possibly reach the floor later in the day.

— A House bill makes clear group homes — not just adult care homes — can benefit from $40 million set aside last summer to provide financial stability to facilities that provide personal care services for residents who no longer qualify for Medicaid coverage. House Republicans aimed to put the measure on the floor Thursday. (unregulated group homes–a breeding ground for fraud and using funds that licensed adult care homes could be using)

— A House bill would let voters decide whether to place in the state constitution the state’s right-to-work status — meaning union membership can’t be a requirement for employment and other provisions. Other proposed amendments in the bill would make clear collective bargaining between local or state governments and unions is illegal and would affirm the right of workers to vote by secret ballot to determine whether they want union representation. House Speaker Thom Tillis, (R-ALEC) R-Mecklenburg, and Senate leader Phil Berger, (R-ALEC) R-Rockingham, have said they’re interested in a right-to-work amendment. (Of course they are, it’s ALEC’s goal to eliminate all unions.)

— Another proposed amendment in a House bill would let voters decide whether private property condemnation by state or local governments should be barred except for a “public use,” such as highways or government buildings. Similar bills have passed in the House only in previous sessions.

— Sen. Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph, filed his own constitutional amendment that would make the superintendent of public instruction an appointed position, rather than the current elected position. Legislators and the public have debated the issue for decades.

— Tillis is the primary sponsor of a bill that would amend the state constitution to limit the time a speaker or Senate leader can serve in the post to four years. A term-limits bill passed the House in 2011, but Berger has preferred limiting the time to eight years.

— As expected, Tillis is the primary sponsor of a bipartisan bill that would again seek to give $50,000 to the living victims of North Carolina’s previous forced sterilization program. A similar bill passed the House in 2012, but Senate Republicans wouldn’t support it. House Minority Leader Larry Hall, D-Durham, also is a primary sponsor.

— A bill filed by Rep. Leo Daughtry, R-Johnston, would raise the mandatory retirement age for judges from 72 to 75.

— Some House Republicans are again seeking to allow concealed weapon permit holders to bring their guns into restaurants where alcohol is served unless there’s a notice prohibiting them from doing so. A similar provision was debated in 2011 but ultimately did not remain in a gun-carry bill that ultimately became law. The bill also would exempt from public records laws the information collected by local sheriffs from people with concealed handgun permits.

— A bill filed by Sen. Stan Bingham, R-Davidson, would revoke the driver’s license of a motorist who passes a stopped school bus that’s picking or dropping off passengers for as long as three years if the action results in fatally striking someone.

— House members filed a bill creating new or tougher penalties for people who make methamphetamine or who possess a key ingredient in making meth after they’ve already been convicted previously of making meth.

Michigan Right to Work Law Was the Brainchild of ALEC, The Most Dangerous Group in Politics

From article written by Bob Sloan and published on Policy Mic...

Fact: 282 bills were passed in Michigan during the lame duck session. 42% of all the bills passed in the last two years were in this last lame duck session, with 180 votes taken on the last day of the 2012 session alone.

Fact: In the session from Dec 13 to Dec 14 (ending at 4:29AM), 180 roll-call votes were held. This took place in the 18 hours leading up to the ending of lame duck.

No sooner had the GOP secured total control of Michigan in 2010, holding majorities in both houses and winning the governorship, than the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a right-wing ultra-conservative “bill mill” and THE source of money and corruption in politics today, lept into action. ALEC wasted no time in sending many of their most onerous “model legislation” bills to Michigan. These included the Emergency Manager law, , expansion of charter schools, HB 5221 (Voter ID Act), which required voters to provide proof of citizenship when registering to vote, and HB 4305 with language similar to ALEC’s model “Immigration Law Enforcement Act.” More →

Turning State Legislatures into Brothels

VLTP Op Ed by Bob Sloan

The Corrosive Effect of the Koch/ALEC Cabal on U.S. and World Governments

In a perfect world, we as citizens in a representative democracy would elect those who best represent our views on issues critically important in our lives.  In the context of that perfect world, our elected  representatives would work tirelessly pursuing legislation that would benefit their constituents and thus earn the respect of voters and ensure their re-election.  In America, this IS the basis that formed the foundation of our government.  Unfortunately, we do not have a “perfect world” with regard to those who represent us, far from it.  Today, we elect those who will take office and then essentially sell their votes to corporations and special interests which are not allowed to vote for elected officials in our democracy, wealthy or powerful entities in whose interest it is to keep these captured legislators in office, term after term.  Many elected officials take office and ignore the needs of their constituents in favor of the desires of corporations or special interests, and often ignore requests for legislation beneficial to the community they are supposed to represent– until those constituents are needed in subsequent elections, and sometimes even then officials count on voters not being aware how they’ve been sold out.

Some ask: how this has come to pass?  Who is responsible for undermining our democracy and corrupting our elected representatives? More →

ALEC Alum Gov. Niki Haley Appoints fellow ALEC Alum to U.S. Senate

Last June I wrote an important piece on the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and exposed the “Legacy” or lifetime memberships held by current or former ALEC state legislators.  Nearly 100 of the alumnae are currently members of the U.S. House and Senate – and at least one is the sitting Governor of South Carolina, Niki Haley.

In the article linked to above, I documented that not only was Governor Haley a possible lifetime member of ALEC, but also another SC lawmaker was seen at an ALEC meeting wearing a badge identifying him as an “ALEC Legacy Member”.  Today it is possible to see the impact of GOP controlled states upon our Congress and nation.  With Privatized Education, Right to Work (for less), voter ID and other ALEC written model legislation being shoved through in IN., WI., MI., AZ. and TX. we can all clearly see how the expansion of the ultra-fringe ideologies are spread from these pockets of extreme conservatism.

With the resignation of Senator Jim DeMint (R SC) from the U.S. Senate to accept the position of President of the Heritage Foundation (an ALEC member), ALEC saw an opportunity to strengthen their presence in the Senate by increasing the number of ALEC alumnae from nine to ten.  One less ALEC member in the House where currently out of 435 Representatives ALEC has 87 alum (20%) won’t be terribly missed, but it will increase ALEC’s Senate presence to 1 in 10 (10%). Haley’s choice was Rep. Tim Scott, who will move from the House to the Senate to take DeMint’s vacant seat.

Those believing that due to the ongoing pressures from activists and non-profit organizations, ALEC or their cabal is going to lessen their legislative activities or tone down the rhetoric – are in a word, wrong.  ALEC has a 40 year head start and they are completely entrenched in our politics and legislative policies.  This latest move by Governor Haley clearly demonstrates that while numerous progressive and liberal media outlets, activists and journalists are pursuing ALEC nationwide, ALEC is concentrating on continuing – and doing it by expanding their influence where it counts, in Congress.

Dr. Martin Luther King on Ensuring Voting Fairness – VIDEO

Broadcast 12.12.12 on the Rachel Maddow Show.  She showed this Meet The Press footage of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on 4/1/60 calling for national uniform voting standards to ensure election fairness.

Please click here to view this remarkable piece of history–that you are seeing being attacked today, some 62 years later

 

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/ns/msnbc_tv-rachel_maddow_show#50182721

ALEC Wins and Defeats in 2012 State Races

“The Center for Media and Democracy reports several ballot measures backed by the extremist American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) went down to defeat yesterday.

Most notable was in Michigan, where voters overturned the state’s emergency manager law. Known as “financial martial law,” it allowed Gov. Rick Snyder (R) to declare a “financial emergency” in a city or school district and appoint a manager with broad powers, including the ability to fire local elected officials, break contracts, seize and sell assets, eliminate services and even eliminate whole cities or school districts without any public input.

In Minnesota, voters defeated an ALEC-designed voter suppression/ID initiative and voters in Alabama, Florida, Missouri, Montana and Wyoming defeated ALEC-inspired measures to block parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA or “Obamacare” as the GOP has named it).

Marriage equality ballot measures won approval in Maine, Maryland and Washington State, while a ban on gay marriage was defeated in Minnesota.

Proposal 2 in Michigan, which would have made permanent collective bargaining rights in the state Constitution, failed.

In state legislative races, Democrats took back control of the Colorado House, the New Hampshire House, the New York Senate, the Maine House and Senate, the Minnesota House and Senate and the Oregon House.’

Read the full article and all the ALEC wins and defeats here

2012 – An Awakening Electorate and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)

Op-Ed by Exec. Dir. Bob Sloan

As pressure has been brought to bear upon the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) over the past couple of years, many of their far-right conservative initiatives were brought into the light along with that organization’s secretive memberships and vast influence.

Articles began surfacing that advised voters of ALEC’s involvement in crafting and urging passage of key state legislation designed to suppress voter rights, tort reform (to limit consumer protections) and on social issues involving abortion, separation of church and state, privatization of public schools, utilities and abolishing or repealing the Affordable Care Act.  They have written and disseminated labor legislation to end collective bargaining, reduce Union and worker wages and other legislation beneficial to their corporate members.

Most Americans were completely unaware of ALEC from it’s conception in 1973…and those who did know ALEC existed, were uninformed as to what ALEC actually did.  All of that changed in May 2011 when hundreds of ALEC’s documents were turned over  to the Nation Magazine and the Center for Media and Democracy by a concerned whistleblower.  In July CMD and the Nation launched “ALEC Exposed” a joint project to fully expose ALEC to the public.  When the site went public, there was less than 18 months remaining until the 2012 election, requiring those of us knowledgeable about ALEC to work quickly to make voters fully aware of ALEC.

Other organizations and groups joined CMD in helping to pull ALEC from the dark shadows and expose their activities to all Americans. Groups such as Common Cause, Color of Change, PFAW, Progress Now, Democracy Now and Walden Asset Management  joined with CMD in an effort of enlightening everyone about ALEC – and demonstrating why their activities were so dangerous to democracy and the very fabric of our Nation.  Jointly they issued state reports identifying ALEC state legislative members, the legislation they were responsible for writing and passing in each state.  They issued reports on the corporate members of ALEC that funded and co-wrote free market legislation for the state members to introduce and pass in each state.

Here at VLTP we launched in-depth reports informing of ALEC’s involvement at the federal level, the 100 + ALEC alumni serving in congress and their exporting of a conservative American agenda to foreign countries through the formation of a UK based affiliate, the Atlantic Bridge Charity and an ALEC International Relations “Task Force”.

With the final results we learned that many of our efforts were successful.  Voters in Wisconsin were informed of the long and close relationship between ALEC and former Governor and Senator Tommy Thompson and defeated him at the polls, choosing Tammy Baldwin instead.  Similarly in Virginia, ALEC’s alum and former US Senator and Governor, George Allen was exposed and then beaten at the polls by former VA Governor Tim Kaine.  This was important as Allen was the first “ALEC Federal Forum Task Force” Co-Chair in 2005-06.

Education

An additional plus was the defeat of Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Bennett.  Bennett has been criss-crossing the US advocating and lobbying for ALEC’s educational legislation and policies.  He is particularly fond of Common Core Standards and has pursued passage of that nationally.

Bennett presented the pro-Common Core case to the board of ALEC .   Dr. Bennett is also on the Board of Directors of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), one of the two trade associations managing the Common Core Standards (along with the National Governors Association).  Additionally, he is the Chairman of Chiefs for Change, an initiative of Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education.  The Foundation for Excellence in Education and CCSSO have received $1,000,000 and $70,000,000, respectively, from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the primary force financing and pushing the Common Core.

Bennett was defeated by a Democrat who issued statements Tuesday night that two immediate reforms she will make in Indiana is the repeal of Common Core and ensuring that public money is used to fund public schools.  This represents a 180 degree change from what this state has been subjected to under Bennett.

In a win for labor and education, voters in Idaho rejected two referenda to uphold 2011 education laws that had limited collective bargaining for teachers. Proposition 1 to limit teacher contracts failed, with 43 percent voting for and 57 percent against. Proposition 2 also failed, with 42 percent voting for and 58 percent against.

Unfortunately Georgia voters weighed in on a proposal to give the state legislature the right to create public charter schools. The measure passed, with 58.5 percent voting for and 41.5 percent voting against.  An ALEC win.

Washington State voted on a proposition to allow the creation of 40 charter schools in the next five years. It has been called the “billionaires initiative” because its signature drive was primarily funded by Bill Gates, Paul Allen, and the parents of Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos. The measure passed, with 51.24 percent voting for and 48.76 percent against. Another ALEC win.

In Idaho teachers opposed Propositions 1, 2 and 3 – in an effort to overturn the so-called “Luna laws.” These harmful education laws, which are named after the state’s schools Superintendent, Tom Luna, are now history. All three propositions were rejected.

Amendment 8 in Florida was pushed by its supporters as a matter of religious freedom when it would have actually allowed the state to publicly fund religious schools and institutions, taking away resources from public schools (more ALEC initiatives). Voters saw through the misleading rhetoric and defeated the measure.

Criminal Justice

Other legislation ALEC has been responsible for are laws dedicated to keeping the “War on Drugs” going.  The laws written by them and passed nationwide has been responsible for imprisoning more than 2 million Americans, imposition of long and harsh sentences for marijuana use, possession or cultivation.  Related laws involving privatizing prisons, criminal bonds and prison healthcare have resulted in huge profits to corporations involved in each – such as former ALEC members, Geo Group and Corrections Corp. of America – began to experience fear for bottom lines as two states (Colorado and Washington) legalized recreational marijuana use, effectively decriminalizing the drug which will reduce jail and prison populations and costs of imprisonment overall.

Colorado and Montana Vote Against Citizens United.  Colorado’s Amendment 65 and Montana’s Initiative 166 are ballot propositions designed to challenge the Supreme Court decision on Citizens United v. FEC that lifted bans on corporate political spending.

Massachusetts voters passed a proposition to legalize medical marijuana.

California voters approved a softening of the state’s “three strikes” sentencing law but upheld the death penalty.

Labor

California’s Proposition 32 has been called the “Paycheck Protection” Initiative — a name straight out of the playbook of ALEC. As CMD has reported, this proposition has been spun as campaign finance reform but would actually “eviscerate labor” by banning employers from withholding union dues and reimbursing the union.

The measure failed to pass, with 43.8 percent voting for and 56.2 percent voting against, but labor spent$75.2 million to hold off the attack. Similar measures have failed twice before in California.

Healthcare

Voters in Alabama, Florida, Missouri, Montana, and Wyoming weighed in on propositions to block aspects of 2010 federal health care legislation, the Affordable Care Act or “ObamaCare.” ALEC has been pushing similar laws nationwide.

The measures fared as follows: passed in Alabama, failed in Florida, passed in Missouri, passed percent in Montana, and passed in Wyoming.

Miscellaneous

Michigan

Michigan’s controversial Emergency Manager Law, 2011 Public Act 4, allowing the governor to appoint emergency managers to take over local municipalities in place of elected officials was on the ballot in that state. Volunteers collected over 200,000 signatures to get a referendum — Proposal 1 — on yesterday’s ballot to overturn the law.  The measure to keep the law in place failed, with 48 percent voting for and 52 percent against, successfully overturning the law.

Michigan voters also voted on a proposition sponsored by the front group Michigan Alliance for Prosperity (again taken right from ALEC’s playbook). The Michigan Taxation Amendment, Proposal 5, is similar to ALEC’s Super-Majority Act and would amend the state constitution to require a 2/3 majority in the legislature to enact an increase in state taxes.

The measure failed, with 31 percent voting for and 69 percent against.

Maryland

Maryland voters upheld their state’s DREAM Act, which ensures that all Maryland kids whose families pay Maryland taxes are able to pay in-state tuition.

Minnesota

Voters in Minnesota* rejected a voter restriction amendment, which would have placed additional burdens on voting. This marks the first time a popular vote has rejected voter restriction tactics.

It is important to note that though the GOP in Congress is adamantly claiming that the electoral outcome on Tuesday is not a “mandate” for the President’s policies and agenda, that claim is totally false.  Those considering whether this claim has merit or not should include the voter suppression factor when calculating the actual will of the people.

Efforts by ALEC Alums Governor Kasich and Sec. of State Husted in Ohio to install voter ID laws, limit early voting and reduce the number of days of early voting had an as yet undetermined impact upon voters.  The Ohio efforts were mirrored nationwide by states that had passed similar laws or were implementing regulations to reduce the time for early voting and requiring ID’s – such as in Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and more than 20 other states.  Efforts of suppressing the vote to prevail in key races failed – but undoubtedly those laws did affect turnout of minorities; African Americans, Latino’s, Senior citizens and College Students (unable to use their school ID’s to vote) – and thus had a measurable impact upon electoral outcome(s).

Currently with Florida not determined yet, the President won the popular vote by a margin of 2.9 million votes.  The latest estimate of the number of voters who were disenfranchised by these ALEC voter ID laws has been reported as 5 million.  Thus, the margin of President Obama’s victory could/should have been as much as 7.9 +/- million votes.  There is no way of estimating how the disenfranchised would have impacted the final results in other state and national races or upon referenda, ballot issues or questions.  Without the extensive voter suppression laws put in place by the GOP through ALEC model legislation, the election outcome would have been considered a landslide rather than just an ass whipping.

What Karl Rove and the donors to his PAC’s and dark money funds got in return for the hundreds of millions contributed to advancing the ALEC/GOP agenda was a lessening of the number of voters able to cast their ballots.  While they didn’t prevail in the face of a huge turnout of Democrats, if left in place such voter laws will have an impact upon the 2014 and subsequent election cycles.  An effort must be made immediately to begin to repeal such laws to enable the electorate to vote freely without intimidation or further suppression efforts put in place by one party.  Hopefully repeals will be introduced between now and 2014 in the states or better yet, a federal bill to prohibit such suppression.

2012 Voting Machines Altering Votes

Please watch the video at http://youtu.be/Fg6DvjfLz5Q

My wife and I went to the voting booths this morning before work. There were 4 older ladies running the show and 3 voting booths that are similar to a science fair project in how they fold up. They had an oval VOTE logo on top center and a cartridge slot on the left that the volunteers used to start your ballot.

I initially selected Obama but Romney was highlighted. I assumed it was being picky so I deselected Romney and tried Obama again, this time more carefully, and still got Romney. Being a software developer, I immediately went into troubleshoot mode. I first thought the calibration was off and tried selecting Jill Stein to actually highlight Obama. Nope. Jill Stein was selected just fine. Next I deselected her and started at the top of Romney’s name and started tapping very closely together to find the ‘active areas’. From the top of Romney’s button down to the bottom of the black checkbox beside Obama’s name was all active for Romney. From the bottom of that same checkbox to the bottom of the Obama button (basically a small white sliver) is what let me choose Obama. Stein’s button was fine. All other buttons worked fine.

I asked the voters on either side of me if they had any problems and they reported they did not. I then called over a volunteer to have a look at it. She him hawed for a bit then calmly said “It’s nothing to worry about, everything will be OK.” and went back to what she was doing. I then recorded this video.

There is a lot of speculation that the footage is edited. I’m not a video guy, but if it’s possible to prove whether a video has been altered or not, I will GLADLY provide the raw footage to anyone who is willing to do so. The jumping frames are a result of the shitty camera app on my Android phone, nothing more.