The Wall Street Journal this morning failed to report ties between the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and controversial “parent-trigger” legislation that would allow parents to take over and convert public schools to charter schools. They also failed to report that the Journal's parent company, News Corp, is a member of ALEC. The Journal's treatment of the legislation also cited no criticism of the proposal, which has been described as an effort "to manipulate parents into letting [the charter school lobby] privatize more public schools.
In the July 23 article, the Wall Street Journal reported on legislation that, according to the article, “empowers parents to take control of a school if enough of them sign petitions” and convert it into a charter school. But the article failed to mention that the proposal is based heavily on model legislation developed by ALEC, a controversial right-wing group that was recently exposed as a significant influence in the pro-charter movement in Georgia.
ALEC has also been behind such controversial legislation as voter ID laws and “Stand Your Ground” legislation. After the group's involvement in these efforts were made public, several of their corporate members left the organization. One of the corporations who remains a member of ALEC, however, is News Corp, the parent company of the Wall Street Journal. The article did not disclose the paper's relationship with ALEC and similarly did not disclose their relationship even while shielding ALEC from critics.
In addition to not disclosing their conflict of interest, the Journal reported on the claims of “advocates” of the legislation, but made no mention of opposition by several parent organizations, including parents who wanted their initial petition signatures in favor of that legislation revoked, because “many parents said that they had been misled about what the petitions called for” as well as "harassment by some signature gatherers." In addition, the nonprofit group Parents Across America pointed out:
According to Leonie Haimson, Executive Director of Class Size Matters and a public school parent in NYC, “The Parent Trigger was devised as an underhanded trick by the charter lobby to manipulate parents into letting them privatize more public schools. The fact that it has aroused huge controversy and has so far failed to achieve any results in California is one more reason legislators should be wary of passing it here in New York State. Parents want to be involved from the ground up in devising positive reforms to improve their children's schools, like class size reduction or offering a more well-rounded curriculum. They do not want their schools either closed, converted into charters or half their staff fired.”