Education

Corrections Corporation of America Used in Drug Sweeps of Public School Students

An unsettling trend appears to be underway in Arizona: the use of private prison employees in law enforcement operations.

The state has graced national headlines in recent years as the result of its cozy relationship with the for-profit prison industry. Such controversies have included the role of private prison corporations in SB 1070 and similar anti-immigrant legislation disseminated in other states; a 2010 private prison escape that resulted in two murders and a nationwide manhunt; and a failed bid to privatize nearly the entire Arizona prison system.

"Won't Back Down" Film Pushes ALEC Parent Trigger Proposal

-- by Mary Bottari and Sara Jerving

Well-funded advocates of privatizing the nation's education system are employing a new strategy this fall to enlist support for the cause. The emotionally engaging Hollywood film "Won't Back Down" -- set for release September 28 -- portrays so-called "Parent Trigger" laws as an effective mechanism for transforming underperforming public schools. But the film's distortion of the facts prompts a closer examination of its funders and backers and a closer look at those promoting Parent Trigger as a cure for what ails the American education system.

What Really Happens When Parents Pull the "Parent Trigger?"

By Will Dooling and Brendan Fischer

Democrats at the U.S. Conference of Mayors have recently backed "parent trigger" laws that allow parents to seize control of their public schools and fire the teachers and principal, or privatize the schools -- a policy also supported by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the Heartland Institute.

Is the "Parent Trigger" a successful plan for empowering parents and promoting school reform, or is it a vehicle for the private takeover of public schools?

Wisconsin Recall Roundup June 1, 2012

Walker and Barrett Clash: Dead Child, John Doe and New Jobs Numbers Dominate Debate

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and his recall challenger Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett met in Milwaukee last night for their second and final debate. The structure of this debate, moderated by one of Wisconsin's leading newsmen, WISN's Mike Gousha, allowed for more back and forth between the candidates and led to heated moments as underdog Tom Barrett went on the offense. Barrett slammed Walker for cutting a campaign ad that features a dead child in an attempt to criticize Barrett for the Milwaukee Police Department's under-reporting of crime. There is no evidence that Barrett knew about the under reporting or the tragic death of the child. Barrett defended his police department: "Milwaukee police arrested that man and put him in jail, but did not use the right code when reporting the crime... you should be ashamed of that commercial, Scott Walker," Barrett charged. Walker did not apologize.

Wisconsin Recall Roundup May 28, 2012

Walker's Record on Veterans Under Fire

On Memorial Day, Wisconsinites are honoring those men and women who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. This year, Memorial Day is taking place in the context of a historic recall election that is just eight days away, and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is facing criticism from veterans and others over his handling of veterans affairs. An editorial in the Capital Times, reminds us that two of Walker's associates from his days as Milwaukee County Executive have been charged with embezzling money from the "Operation Freedom" charity for families of fallen soldiers. Tim Russell, a former Walker top aide, and Kevin Kavanaugh, a Walker appointee, were charged earlier in the year with embezzling over $62,000 from the veterans fund. Russell used the money to take expensive cruises and vacations with his boyfriend, Brian Pierick, who was also charged with child enticement. All three men are awaiting trial. The charity had been run by a local Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Milwaukee County, with no complaints. But Walker took control of the "Operation Freedom" charity away from the VFW and handed it over to his aide Russell, a decision still deserving of an explanation says the Capital Times.

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. Is an ALEC Member

With Fox personalities defending the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the Wall Street Journal publishing editorials criticizing its detractors (including the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), by name), some have wondered whether or not Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, which owns Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, and many broadcast licenses, is an ALEC member.

Yes, News Corp. is an ALEC member. It has funded ALEC operations.

Scantron 15th Corporation to Dump ALEC

Scantron formScantron Corporation, a $200 million for-profit educational testing and online tutoring company that makes, among other things, those ubiquitous scan forms for standardized tests (please make sure you fill in the bubble completely and clearly with a #2 pencil, etc.), joined the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) late in 2010, but a company spokesperson told CMD that it is no longer a member. Scantron's departure makes it the 15th corporation to cut ties with ALEC.

National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Cuts Ties to ALEC

Teacher's CertificateThe national certifying body for teachers in the United States, the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), participated in the Education Task Force of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) until April 2012. In an official statement sent to the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) today, NBPTS spokesperson Brian Lewis said, "Given recent events, the new NBPTS President and CEO decided to discontinue engagement with ALEC. As a result, NBPTS terminated its membership as an Education Task Force Member of ALEC effective April 18, 2012, and also withdrew from participating in the upcoming ALEC conference. ... The decision to participate in ALEC had been made by previous NBPTS leadership."

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