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Learning Curve

  • An F for transparency
    “Look at this shiny thing over here!” – Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma, Oct. 14, 2014.

ALEC's star performer

ALEC, the corporate-controlled legislative group promoting a systemic destruction of public education, has released its annual report card. Indiana, ALEC's poster child for destructive reform, earns a B+ on the dubious roll and ranks it first in the nation with a 3.49 GPA.

The state loses points for its "Teacher Quality and Policies," including an F for "exiting ineffective teachers." The state's best marks are for its charter school policies, its voucher program and its lack of home-school regulation. That's no surprise given the organization's interest in promoting free-market policies at the expense of evidence-based methods.

ALEC gives Massachusetts, generally regarded by credible sources as the top-performing state in the nation in K-12 education, a "C" and a GPA of 1.88, the same score as Arkansas and just ahead of Mississippi.

The National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education offers its own grade on the ALEC report card: "A" for ideological fealty; "F" on research quality."

From a review by University of Illinois Professor Christopher Lubienski and doctoral candidate T. Jameson Brewer:

The ALEC "report card" assigns its grades based on states' policies regarding their support for charter schools, their implementation of school voucher plans, and the permissiveness they display toward homeschooling.

"The authors contend that these grades are based on 'high quality' research demonstrating that the policies for which they award high grades will improve education for all students," Lubienski and Jameson write. Instead, the "report card" draws on the work of advocacy groups and is grounded in ideological tenets, leading the authors to assign high grades to states "with unproven and even disproven market-based policies," the reviewers add. They point out that the authors' claims of "a growing body of research" lacks citations; their grading system contradicts testing data that they report; and their data on alternative teacher research is "simply wrong."

"In fact, the research ALEC highlights is quite shoddy and is unsuitable for supporting its recommendations," Lubienski and Jameson conclude. "The report's purpose appears to be more about shifting control of education to private interests than in improving education."

Karen Francisco, editorial page editor for The Journal Gazette, has been an Indiana journalist since 1981. She writes frequently about education for The Journal Gazette opinion pages and here, where she looks at the business, politics and science of learning as it relates to northeast Indiana, the state and the nation. She can be reached at 260-461-8206 or by e-mail at