Scantron, the manufacturer of the ubiquitous test answer sheets, is the latest in the line of companies to disassociate itself from the American Legislative Exchange Council, familiarly known as ALEC. The separation was was celebrated by the Common Cause of Minnesota which, for the past several months, has been lobbying Minnesota companies affiliated with ALEC to cut ties with the group. At the same time that Scantron’s decision was announced, CCM also found out that the complaint that they filed earlier this month with the Board of Campaign and Public Disclosure will begin an investigation to ascertain the truth of CCM’s claims.
The board will take up the matter at its June 5 meeting in an executive session that is closed to the public, according to its letter [PDF] to the nonprofit Common Cause, and will likely “lay the matter over” until its July meeting.
The resulting controversy over that and a similar complaint filed by the national Common Cause with the Internal Revenue Service appears to have sparked an exodus.
ALEC is an organization made up of businesses, think tanks, and legislators from around the country who collaborate to draft business-friendly model legislation for consideration by states’ lawmaking bodies. Among the bills championed by ALEC include several voter ID efforts and the “Stand Your Ground” law which is currently being used by George Zimmerman as a defense in his trial for the shooting of a Florida teen Trayvon Martin.
The organization has also been active on the education reform front, championing the adoption of business principles into the education system. A recent law that made taking one online class mandatory for high school graduates in Minnesota was introduced and promoted by the group.
Those measures, as well as anti-union campaigns, tort-reform efforts and other ALEC-coordinated attempts to influence state governments throughout the country may have garnered the majority of the headlines that have drawn attention to the group over the last year. Local lawmakers — there are some 30 ALEC legislative members in Minnesota — have also introduced bills that would create vouchers, rate schools using Florida-style letter grades, limit teachers’ ability to engage in political activities and bar the state from adopting the long-awaited Common Core standards.
Scantron is only the latest company in the education field to drop its ALEC membership. The list of notable defections over the last year-and-a-half include for-profit giant Kaplan and the Gates Foundation who declined to renew a grant made to ALEC to pursue its research into teacher effectiveness.