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Hoosiers Rally to Protect Education from ALEC "Reforms"

Teachers charge that Indiana schools are under threat by a powerful lobbying group. (Chicago Federation of Labor)
Teachers charge that Indiana schools are under threat by a powerful lobbying group. (Chicago Federation of Labor)
July 27, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS - A statehouse rally today is calling attention to efforts to reform education in Indiana. According to the state's teachers' union, that means using taxpayer money to fund private-school vouchers and charter schools at the expense of children who attend public school.

The protest is aimed at the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative policy-making group holding its annual meeting in Indianapolis today. Indiana State Teachers Association president Teresa Meredith said ALEC is funded by corporations and wealthy donors who hobnob with lawmakers and write legislation that promotes privatizing government functions - including education.

"We want the public to know about this group," she said. "We want them to know which legislators are tied to this group, and we want them to know that their children's right to a public education is truly at stake here."

On its website, ALEC says the current K-12 system is failing students and that it's time for parents to take control of their children's education by choosing where they go to school.

Meredith said 90 percent of Indiana kids attend public school, and added that it's important for Hoosiers to hold lawmakers accountable for their education-funding decisions.

"Many of them have their own businesses, small-town businesses," she said. "We want them to ask them, 'Hey, are you a member of this group? What kind of financial backing are you getting from them and what kind of kickbacks are you getting? What kind of perks are you getting from being a member of this group and passing their legislation?' "

Speakers at today's rally were to include representatives from the Center for Media and Democracy's ALEC Exposed project, the National Education Association and the Indiana Coalition for Public Education.

Information about the rally is online at ista.in.org. Information from ALEC is at alec.org.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IN