Education

Chris Christie’s Education Bills Bear Striking Resemblance To ALEC Models

The American Legislative Exchange Council, as has been extensively reported, provides model legislation to state lawmakers, giving them templates for right-wing laws. Some lawmakers take this a bit too literally, as one forgot to remove ALEC’s mission statement from her anti-tax bill.

According to an analysis by the Newark Star-Ledger, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) has quietly been using ALEC legislation in the Garden state during his high-profile education reform push:

A Star-Ledger analysis of hundreds of documents shows that ALEC bills are surfacing in New Jersey, where Republican Gov. Chris Christie is trying to remake the state, frequently against the wishes of a Democrat-controlled Legislature.

Drawing on bills crafted by the council, on New Jersey legislation and dozens of e-mails by Christie staffers and others, The Star-Ledger found a pattern of similarities between ALEC’s proposals and several measures championed by the Christie administration. At least three bills, one executive order and one agency rule accomplish the same goals set out by ALEC using the same specific policies. In eight passages contained in those documents, New Jersey initiatives and ALEC proposals line up almost word for word. Two other Republican bills not pushed by the governor’s office are nearly identical to ALEC models.

Christie’s allegedly ALEC-based bills cover a slew of education topics, including the use of standardized testing and reforming teacher tenure. (Christie, of course, has a habit of publicly berating teachers.)

The Christie administration is denying that ALEC had any connection to the legislation. “Our reforms have no basis in anyone’s model legislation,” said Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak. “The governor said to me, ‘Who’s ALEC?'”

State Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D), meanwhile, said that she had “never seen anything like this.” “To wholesale just lift up a package of education-reform initiatives that are being developed for use in every state around the country? I don’t think that bodes well for us,” she said.