U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos praised Indiana’s charter school and voucher programs today in Colorado during a speech to the American Legislative Exchange Council, known as ALEC.
The organization, strongly criticized by teachers unions, is a conservative nonprofit lobbying group that pairs conservative legislators and business owners to write model legislation. ALEC is holding its annual conference this week in Denver.
DeVos highlighted how Indiana was an early state to adopt charter schools, taxpayer-funded voucher programs and tax credit scholarships, following the example of Minnesota and Wisconsin. She also mentioned the contributions of current and former Indiana leaders, calling out former Gov. Mitch Daniels and current Gov. Eric Holcomb, as well as House Speaker Brian Bosma and U.S. Rep. Todd Huston.
She also spoke highly of politicians from Michigan, Arizona, Wisconsin, Florida and Kentucky.
“Progress in providing parents and students educational choices didn’t come through a top-down federal dictate – it came as a result of leadership from governors like John Engler, Tommy Thompson, Jeb Bush and Mitch Daniels and continued with governors like Doug Ducey, Scott Walker, Eric Holcomb, Rick Scott and Matt Bevin.
And it came from state legislative leaders like Polly Williams in Wisconsin, Brian Bosma and Todd Huston in Indiana, Ann Duplessis in Louisiana, Debbie Lesko in Arizona, Dan Forest in North Carolina, and so many others, many of whom are in this room today.”
DeVos’ picks are among the state’s most ardent school choice advocates, championing legislation that has established a prolific charter school system and one of the largest voucher programs in the country.
ALEC has had far-reaching influence in Indiana, with several key lawmakers participating in the group and elements of the group’s model laws inspiring some of Indiana’s education reforms in recent years. Rep. Bob Behning, chairman of the House Education Committee, has been a member.
The group also admires and has sought to promote Indiana’s legislative work on education, naming its model legislation for school choice programs the “Indiana Education Reform Package.”
Last summer, ALEC held its yearly conference in Indianapolis.
You can find DeVos’ full speech here.