How ALEC Stole the Public from Public Education: A Cautionary but Inspring Tale

Andy Goldstein, a parent and teacher in Florida, wrote this story below and recited it before the School Board of Palm Beach County. The story is a cautionary tale about ALEC’s involvement in our public schools.

For those who may not know, ALEC is an organization that connects corporations and politicians behind closed doors.  They draft model legislation (designed to boost corporate profit) and bring these laws to our states.  Incentives for many of their favored policies, including Pay for Success, competency-based education, and – of course – high stakes testing – were written into the latest version of ESEA, which was signed into law this month.

Here is the story, with a link to his brilliant performance below.   Enjoy!

How the ALEC stole the Public from Public Education

Every kid
Down in Kidville
Liked public education a lot!
But the American Legislative Exchange Council, known as ALEC, did not.


ALEC hated public education
The whole public school season!
If you want to know why,
I’ll tell you the reason.
It’s a cautionary tale
That spans
‘cross many a political season.

Long long ago
And far far away
from high upon its perch
ALEC spied down
And set its eyes upon some prey!


It saw little boys and girls skipping merrily to school
and it grimaced a terrible grimmace
And it growled a terrible growl
And it slobbered and drooled and thought to itself


They’re so naturally happy,
there’s no money in that!
I must put a stop to it at the drop of a hat.


So ALEC thought and thought and thought some more
About how it could make money and say what it’s for.

It snapped its finger and with a chuckle and glee
Said I’ll buy me a politician or two or three!
Or three thousand! Or ten thousand!
From sea to sea!
They’ll do my bidding
For a political fee!


But I must have a ruse, he said with a snark
When people ask me what for
I’ll tell them we need a Common Core.
A national standards, with high-stakes galore!

We’ll keep those kids busy, worrying and fretting
Over malfunctioning computers that keep track of all they’re forgetting!


And those teachers! Those fools! Trying to help all the kids!

We’ll demonize them and theirs schools and put out for bids
To privatize, privatize with charters and kids
Yes, we’ve got private kids paid for with public monies!


It takes money away from the rest and leaves many with empty tummies.
And Alec thought to himself with a sly wicked smile
I’m winning! I’m winning a ton of money!


But there were angels afloat, quickening the air
With trumpets sounding a blast at ALEC
The last trumpet drawing near
Sounding a great sound and a note that
the greed will be no more.
And calling upon one and all
To stand and be counted and rise real tall
To Lift their voices so they can be heard
Through rallies and strikes around the world



And here in Florida
We say
Enough is enough!
Join us January 14th
For the Rally in Tally
To support our public schools
Unite unite
Rise up and be heard!


Watch Andy read his poem here:

Author: Emily Talmage

My name is Emily Talmage and I teach fourth grade at Montello Elementary School in Lewiston, Maine. In addition to teaching in Lewiston, I have also taught special education and general education in New York City, including one year at a “high-performing” charter school in Brooklyn. I also have two master’s degrees; one in Urban Education from Mercy College, and another in Developmental Psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University. I have also worked as a research analyst and assistant at the National Center for Children and Families at Columbia and Oldham Innovative Research in Portland.

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