How the ALEC Agenda Forced Chicago’s School Closings | Carl Gibson

7 Aug

This week, from Aug. 7 to 9, Chicago is hosting the 40th annual gathering of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC is an organization of corporate lobbyists and mostly Republican state legislators who meet behind closed doors to write corporate-approved “model legislation” to be introduced in statehouses nationwide the following year, legislation aimed at enriching corporations at the expense of the environment, workers’ rights, health care and education. I recently participated in a Moral Monday-themed action with roughly 50 others at the Palmer House Hilton. I and five others were arrested in an act of civil disobedience while blocking the entrance to the “Empire Room.”

Earlier this year, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the closing of 50 public schools, the vast majority of which serve low-income children in high-poverty neighborhoods. While the unelected Chicago Board of Education slashed school budgets and forced the firing of thousands of school employees and educators, Mayor Emanuel gave out millions in tax breaks to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange — his top campaign contributor — a new stadium for DePaul University, and possibly even more for Wrigley Field. The city isn’t broke, but rather has simply made clear that corporate profits are a higher priority than public education.

The situation in Chicago is not unlike the situation in Philadelphia, Pa., where the city council has ordered the closing of 23 public schools, also in impoverished neighborhoods. Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett slashed $1 billion from public education while simultaneously handing out $800 million in corporate tax breaks across the state, meaning a direct transfer of wealth from schools to the pockets of corporate CEOs. If one connects the dots, it’s easy to trace all of this back to ALEC. Here’s how ALEC’s agenda is harming schools like those in the city hosting their annual conference. More…

via How the ALEC Agenda Forced Chicago’s School Closings | Carl Gibson.

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