Colorado: ALEC Stealth Bill Claims “Massive” and “Far-Reaching” Changes to Public Education

Today, just three days after it failed to earn a majority of votes from Colorado’s appropriations committee yet still moved to the Senate for a final vote, Colorado’s state legislature passed a bill that will require the creation of a “statewide online and blended learning program.”

The bill, hot off the press from the corporate bill mill known as the American Legislative Exchange Council, will help fast-track the implementation of digital and online learning throughout the state of Colorado.

“The scope of the coming change in the delivery of public education services is massive and more far-reaching than the available constructs of online or blended learning,” the bill states. “The scope of the change is such that every public school in the state must evolve into a digital learning environment.”

If this doesn’t scare you, it should.

First, if an ALEC bill claiming upfront that a massive and far-reaching change in the delivery of public education is on the way – and that public schools must (must?!) evolve to suit their needs – doesn’t make you shudder, I don’t know what will.

Beyond that, there is no evidence that digital, online or blended learning have a positive impact on K-12 learning.

There is, however, plenty of evidence that digital, online, and blended learning will bolster coporate bottom lines and move public education toward the fully privatized system long sought after by education reformers.

Perhaps even more mind-boggling is that the bill ends with Colorado’s controversial “safety clause,” which states: “The general assembly hereby finds…this act is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, and safety.”


The clause, tagged onto most Colorado bills to prevent citizens from submitting referendum petitions, not only ignores health risks associated with excessive digital and online learning, but also denies safety risks surrounding data security and privacy.

In December, I speculated that with the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, we would find ourselves playing an on-going game of whack-a-mole with predatory corporate education bills like this one.  In this case, however, Coloradans aren’t even getting a chance to play.

Maybe an alien takeover would be a better analogy.



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.

4 thoughts on “Colorado: ALEC Stealth Bill Claims “Massive” and “Far-Reaching” Changes to Public Education”

  1. Being a Denver teacher who is no longer welcome to teach inside our district due to our district’s fanatical attempt at jumping on EVERY SINGLE school reform wagon (this is now how we, as a district, now survive financially; without reform funding we couldn’t pull ANYTHING off) — well, your explanation of yet more legislated insanity doesn’t surprise me so much as it horrifies me. The cultural achievement gap widens and widens, but the only response is to re-gentrify more and more of our poorest neighborhoods and thus push our most difficult student populations across district lines and out of Denver…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We are well on the path to destroying the US public school system. It’s sad and I wish people would really understand that there are forces out to privatize education and in doing so, just increases the already huge gap of inequality. Ugh. I’m a public school teacher in Texas. The attack on educationis one not many seem to know or care about. Thanks for your post!


  3. May 11, 2016
    738 Los Robles Avenue
    Palo Alto, CA 94306

    Emily Talmage
    Fourth grade teacher
    Montello Elementary School
    Lewiston, Maine

    Dear Ms. Talmage,

    Thank you for taking a look at this long comment.

    I know your time is precious: you’re spending it in the cause of education and the young. When I was teaching English, time always seemed in short supply, even as I felt “I touch the future; I teach.”

    My name is Marc Vincenti, and I was in the classroom at Gunn High, here in Palo Alto, for fifteen years.

    Your marvelous letter to Mark Zuckerberg (who lives right here in my town!) was posted by a Virginia high-school teacher, Joe Clement, on his Google site, Beyond the Screens.

    I’m thrilled you wrote it and want to say, “Keep going!” I’m cheering you all the way.

    I’ve been in touch with Mr. Clement because, like myself, he’s been teaching in a place where the high-schoolers have been taking their own lives. You may have heard about our troubles here, Ms Talmage. We’re just sort of “getting by,” right now. (We lost a 19-year-old last month.) Anyway, it’s a horrible thing to have “in common” with a colleague across the country, but Joe’s thinking appeals to me for how humane it is.

    To let you know, in a small way, about an attempt at school reform in my neck of the woods: I’m leading a community campaign to bring a more hopeful life to our local high-schoolers.

    My grassroots initiative—Save the 2,008—is named for the number of students and teachers at my school two years back, and we advocate simple but profound repairs to student life.

    Our six proposals would relieve campus stress and depression, by:

    1) Shrinking class sizes (which at Palo Alto’s two high schools are routinely, impersonally, at more than 30 teenagers per room);
    2) Giving students a voice in homework loads (which can be drags on morale and a good night’s sleep) via a new, confidential, teacher-friendly app;
    3) Requiring guidance counseling before enrollment in multiple APs (which pile on the work while subtracting from family time, friendship time, playtime);
    4) Undoing all-day student dependence on texting and social media (by banning phone use, as we do at our middle schools, and making campus more companionable);
    5) Curbing the relentless grade-reporting (which robs kids of the time to recover from the normal setbacks and hurts of adolescence);
    6) Eliminating the misery-inducing cheating (committed by some 80% of our overburdened students, and countenanced by our schools).

    Dispersing this cloud of six, toxic stressors will in my view open up breathing room for student-to-teacher connections—ties that sometimes become lifelines.

    You’re most, most welcome to join us, Emily. We’re short-handed on 4th-grade teachers. (Mine, by the way, was named Ms. Hoffman.) You can add your voice to our chorus with just the keystrokes of your name, at

    Palo Alto has become known as the sort of “ground zero” of high-school stress. I’m hoping we’ll one day also be seen as the ground zero for some sensible changes in the way we treat our teens.

    Keep up your advocacy. American needs it.

    Marc Vincenti
    Gunn English Dept. (1995-2010)
    Campaign Coordinator
    Save the 2,008


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