Do you live in Madison, Wisconsin? What are you doing this May Day?
Sallie Mae has dropped its membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) after a student-led campaign demanding that the nation's largest student loan lender cut ties with the controversial organization. Sallie Mae is the 50th corporation to publicly drop its ALEC membership in the past year-and-a-half as the organization has come under increasing public scrutiny.
New documents show that former Indiana Schools Superintendent Tony Bennett -- who now heads Florida's schools -- overhauled Indiana's much-heralded school grading system to guarantee that a charter run by a major campaign donor would receive top marks. These revelations shine a light on the big bucks behind the education privatization agenda, its continued failure to meet the need of students, and provides another instance of cheating to cover up poor educational outcomes.
Despite widespread public opposition to the education privatization agenda, at least 139 bills or state budget provisions reflecting American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) education bills have been introduced in 43 states and the District of Columbia in just the first six months of 2013, according to an analysis by the Center for Media and Democracy, publishers of ALECexposed.org. Thirty-one have become law.
Wisconsin's 2013-2015 biennial budget sits on Governor Walker's desk awaiting his signature. Included in the budget is a provision allocating $1 million in taxpayer funds over the next two years to the controversial education organization Teach for America.
Student activists and their allies gathered outside Sallie Mae’s annual shareholder meeting on May 30 to demand increased transparency and accountability from the nation’s largest student loan lender, and to draw attention to the worsening problem of student debt. Allie Gardner, a student at the University of Wisconsin – Madison drove to Delaware from Wisconsin to attend the shareholder meeting and demand a meeting with the CEO; "Sallie Mae doesn’t exist to protect students, and they are not willing to work with students. They exist to profit off of us."
Governor Scott Walker seeks to "radically" overhaul Wisconsin's education system using several pieces of American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) model legislation, and to do it through the budget process, meaning this privatization agenda could be enacted with minimal public discussion or debate.
Dark money nonprofits spent hundreds of millions in the 2012 elections, but reported only a fraction of that thanks to an "issue advocacy" loophole that requires only limited disclosure for ads that don't explicitly urge viewers to vote for or against a candidate. Federal and state elections officials have rarely probed whether a group's so-called "issue ads" are really intended to influence elections -- but in Wisconsin, a politically-active nonprofit exposed its issue ad charade on its own.
On March 1, 2013, Milwaukee Country prosecutors shut down the long running "John Doe" probe into corruption in Scott Walker's office during the time he served as Milwaukee County Executive. Six people were charged and convicted, including three former Walker staff, but no charges were brought against Walker. Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm issued a brief, telling statement: "After a review of the John Doe evidence, I am satisfied that all charges that are supported by proof beyond a reasonable doubt have now been brought and concluded."