By Ralph Schwartz
I came across two unrelated posts both reflecting on the state Republicans’ approach to K-12 education.
A piece by Peter Callaghan of the Tacoma News Tribune wonders where the Democrats, once champions of education, have gone? In his view, they have taken the defensive, while the GOP has become the party of ideas.
“It is difficult to find a Democrat in the Legislature who hasn’t instead embraced the rhetoric that all school reform is a right-wing attempt to privatize schools,” Callaghan writes.
(You guys should read Callaghan on Olympia stuff, as I’ve said in a previous post. He really knows his stuff, as opposed to some bloggers, who *cough-cough* fly by the seat of their rumpled thrift-store pants.)
In Crosscut, John Stang wrote that Democrats in the Senate are criticizing Republican education legislation for being the cookie-cutter output of conservative think tank the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC.
(I can imagine the parent-child discussions: “What is going on with all these C’s on your report card?” — “Hey, at least I’m doing better than my school.”)
State Republicans deny the bills are products of ALEC. There is no evidence the sponsors, Bruce Dammeier, R-Puyallup (third-grade retention); and Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island (A-F), are members of ALEC.
Notably, Doug Ericksen, a self-described member of ALEC, is not on the list of sponsors for either bill.
Could it be that these are just ideas that are in the ether, if you will, that some Republicans have latched onto? If they were hatched in the incubators at ALEC, does that condemn them outright?
Before condemning a bill based on its origin, might we not debate it on its merits?
The Crosscut piece describes ALEC as a secretive organization that doesn’t publicly name its members. I would question how secretive it really is. I asked Ericksen whether he was a member for a piece that ran Sunday on Occupy Bellingham. He paused for a moment, perhaps realizing the ALEC label came with a lot of baggage, but he did tell me he was.
The question was relevant because Occupy Bellingham is watching Ericksen especially closely, as it seeks to monitor and advocate against ALEC-inspired legislation.
What Ericksen said in response could be applied to the substance of the Crosscut piece, which said that Dems are jumping all over the Litzow and Dammeier bills because they smell like ALEC:
“The way they (Occupy) try to vilify organizations they don’t agree with, using bullying techniques, the misinformation they provide … (are) techniques used in politics to marginalize the opposition.”
“It’s not good for the public discourse.”
In other words, if a bill stinks, just vote “no.”