February 3, 2014
CONTACT: Zack Fields, (907) 258-3077
Jeb Bush Candidacy Reveals Origins of Alaska Voucher Bill

Bush implemented a comprehensive assault on public schools in Florida, using “model” legislation that ALEC is promoting in Alaska

ANCHORAGE:  News reports about Jeb Bush’s presidential candidacy have revealed the origins of school privatization legislation in Alaska.  The New Yorker reports that Bush’s top policy priority was defunding public schools in Florida, and that he was forced to use a voucher tax credit model after courts invalidated a simpler voucher system.  The Koch Brothers’ group ALEC is promoting that “model” voucher tax credit legislation to defund Alaska public schools.  The House passed voucher tax credit legislation during the last session, and Republicans defeated amendments that would have kept funding within the public education system.

Bush’s voucher efforts in Florida were successful at diverting hundreds of millions of dollars away from public schools, enriching for-profit companies that have cashed in on the defunding of public education.  While Bush has attempted to claim the mantle of reform, he has opposed holding private schools to the same standards as public schools, revealing that his support for standardized testing in public schools is a thinly-veiled effort to justify defunding public education.  After Bush helped create a massive for-profit “education” industry, the businesses reciprocated by funneling millions of dollars into campaign coffers of anti-public education Republicans.

“Bush’s record in Florida should serve as a warning to Alaska: We cannot let Koch Brothers groups like ALEC defund our public school system,” said Mike Wenstrup, Chair of the Alaska Democratic Party.  “It is becoming increasingly clear that the voucher bill last session was part of a much larger Koch-funded effort to destroy public education in Alaska.”

The non-partisan Legislative Research Services estimates one voucher tax credit bill in Alaska could take more than $15 million per year out of Alaska’s public school system, which would lead to more teacher layoffs.