3/20/06 The Rightwing Targets States on Education

The Rightwing Targets Education in the States
Helena, MT: The Progressive Legislative Action Network today released a new summary of rightwing efforts on education in the states. As it makes clear, there exists a concerted effort on the right to privatize public schools. These efforts are intellectually dishonest and orchestrated by political hacks While conservatives push their Trojan Horse agenda with bad research, progressives are responding with real policies to equalize education funding and make strong pre-K education available to all children. To discuss state education policy with one of PLAN's experts, contact us at 406-544-0211 or 212-680-3116. Read the summary. Rightwing Research on Education Deeply Flawed:
  • ALEC'S REPORT CARD IS BIASED: ALEC's research on education spending "exaggerates spending increases by ignoring inflation in service sector costs and the fact that a substantial portion of increased education spending has been for special education and dropout prevention." [PLAN, Stateside Dispatch, 03/20/2006] Even worse, ALEC's Report Card understates student progress, especially federal documentation that "shows performance gains for most age groups from 1971 to 2004, with the gap between white and minority students closing over the last three decades." [PLAN, Stateside Dispatch, 03/20/2006]
  • ALEC'S EDUCATION "EXPERTS" ARE REALLY POLITICAL HACKS: The man responsible for the research and issuing of ALEC's Report Card previously worked as a communications flack for a private prison trade association, not exactly the sort of background necessary to be a quality education researcher. [PLAN, Stateside Dispatch, 03/20/2006]
  • MISLEADING RESEARCH RAMPANT AT RIGHTWING THINK TANKS: The newly launched Think Tank Review Project of Arizona State University was formed to evaluate the quality of research in think tank work. Their finding? New studies from scholars at the rightwing Cato Instiute, Friedman Foundation, Hoover Institution, Manhattan Institute, and Wisconsin Policy Research Institute have significant flaws. [Think Tank Review Project,, 2006]
The 65% "Solution" is Actually a Rightwing Distraction. The conservative proposal to require that 65% of education spending be spent "in the classroom" (a highly misleading term) is nothing more than a political ploy:
  • THE DEFINITION OF CLASSROOM SPENDING INCLUDES ATHLETICS BUT EXCLUDES LIBRARIES: "Their definition of spending 'inside the classroom' excludes teacher training, speech therapy for students, curriculum development, and school libraries, while athletics and field trips count as 'in the classroom.' It's hard to explain how a rule that creates incentives for a school to cut libraries to fund uniforms for the football team is some magic solution to educational problems." [PLAN, Stateside Dispatch, 03/20/2006]
  • THERE IS NO EVIDENCE THAT A SPENDING REQUIREMENT MAKES SENSE: Research done by Standard & Poor's concluded that "no minimum spending allocation is a 'silver bullet' solution" and that spending is all over the board for both high-scoring and low-scoring districts. Such research led the PTA to conclude that spending requirements are a "one size fits all" policy that ignores reality in the classroom. [PLAN, Stateside Dispatch, 03/20/2006]
  • THE 65% DISTRACTION IS A TROJAN HORSE FOR SCHOOL PRIVATIZATION: While the proponents of the 65% Distraction apparently think that school libraries are a misuse of funds, any money spent on school privatization is considered classroom spending under the proposal. A strategy memo leaked by the backers of the initiative makes it clear that politics, and attempts to advance vouchers, lay at the heart of the 65% Distraction. [PLAN, Stateside Dispatch, 03/20/2006]
The Progressive Legislative Action Network was established in 2005 to help coordinate and advance the progressive agenda at the state level.