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[Susan notes: If ALEC bothered to send this propaganda piece to the bi-weekly that serves our village, you can bet they are papering the nation with it. Watch and respond!]

Published in The Citizen, Charlotte

To the editor

I was stunned to open the May 28 The Citizen, Charlotte, and see "Meeting the Education Challenge," a propaganda piece from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in Washington, D. C. And on the Community Forum page, no less. ALEC, a corporate-funded conservative advocacy group, was founded in 1973 by Paul Weyrich, a leading conservative who also co-founded the Heritage Foundation. Linking state legislators to right-wing think tanks, ALEC produces cookie-cutter legislation that lawmakers can introduce back home.

School vouchers are a long-standing ALEC objective. And so in The Citizen we get ALEC touting the American Indian Public Charter School (AIPCS) in Oakland, CA, as an example of a charter school that is free to select its own staff and tailor its own curriculum and discipline policy. Vermonters are unlikely to embrace a school that calls test prep a curriculum and public embarrassment a discipline policy.

The ALEC research lists Chavez as the leader of AIPS. In point of fact, he resigned in 2007 after a flap over his calling a visiting African-American graduate student "a dumbass idiot" for arriving late. Bay Area newspapers published other examples of Chavez's use of racial stereotypes and name-calling to publicly embarrass students, labels like "stupid" and "lazy Mexican." Another of his public embarrassment strategies was to shave a miscreant students' head in front of the entire school.

Touted for its high standardized test scores, AIPCS proudly "teaches strictly to the test." AIPCS recruits teachers using CHavez's language: "We are looking for hard working people who believe in free market capitalism. . . . Multicultural specialists, ultra liberal zealots and college-tainted oppression liberators need not apply."

Every day, students recite the school's mission statement, which includes the pledge to be "productive members in a free market capitalist society."

The is the school help up by ALEC as an "innovative charter." Vermonters may want to think twice before jumping on this bandwagon.

Susan Ohanian

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