American public education is under attack. In its most recent form, the attack has been on the public servants – the teachers, who have had to do more with less as corporate backed politicians cut school budgets. They cut public education in favor of a private corporate created education system, not because it is in the best interest of our students, but because it is about making money for the corporate interests. A recent op-ed in the AJC laid out the major damage that will continue to be done in the upcoming school year to public education in Georgia.
In Georgia we have a special connection to the attack on public education in the United States. Maybe unbenounced to most Americans, there is a group of conservative legislators and corporations that create and practice passing “model legislation”. The group is the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and they are responsible for the continued cuts to educational funding and the push for charter schools. In ALEC’s most recent report on education, the group’s first attack is on public educators and teachers’ unions (page 2). Where else are the attacks by ALEC targeted? The corporations and legislators involved seek “tenure reform, merit pay, public school transparency, charter schools, and school vouchers.” ALEC has no less than 24 pieces of “model legislation” that they are already pushing in many states. So what is the Georgia connection to ALEC? In a name, it is Representative David Casas.
Rep. David Casas is not only a member of the education committee for the General Assembly, but has also been named as the ALEC education task force chairman. In the press release about his task force appointment for ALEC, it states that ALEC is pursuing the ideal that “a government closest to its people is fundamentally more effective, more just, and a better guarantor of freedom.” ALEC and its group of legislators and connected big corporations couldn’t be farther from that ideal.
What do we do now? If we want a relationship that is closest to the people, we first have to build back the trust between parents and teachers. Do we want to trust the education of our children to a corporate owned legislator or are we going to trust the professional educator who is with our child everyday? Second, we have to take action as parents and teachers, and vote out legislators like Rep. David Casas who is targeting the dismantling of public education in favor of privatizing the system to fit corporate needs, bottom lines, and stock prices. The ALEC agenda and that of Rep. Casas is about the money to be made at the cost of our students’ creativity and academic success.