The American Federation for Children
Learn more about corporations VOTING to rewrite our laws.
The American Federation for Children is a committee of mostly right-wing groups who want to advance the privatization of public schools and the expansion of voucher programs and charter schools.
Support for the American Legislative Exchange Council
ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's ALECexposed.org, and check out breaking news on our PRWatch.org site.
An ALEC Ally in Wisconsin
The American Federation for Children (AFC) is an organization with roots in Milwaukee that promotes public school privatization through “voucher programs” and charter schools. It shares an address and leadership with its 501(c)(3) partner Alliance for School Choice (ASC).
AFC is chaired by Betsy DeVos, the billionaire wife of Amway heir Dick DeVos (son of Amway founder Richard DeVos) and former chair of the Michigan Republican Party. In recent years, she has funneled tens of millions of dollars into school privatization efforts and other right-wing initiatives.
AFC is an ALEC member and is represented by former Rep. Jensen on the ALEC Education Task Force. Jensen is the former Republican Wisconsin Assembly Speaker convicted in 2005 of three felonies for misuse of his office for political purposes, and banned from the state Capitol for five years (the charges were later reduced on appeal). Jensen is one of AFC’s registered lobbyists in Wisconsin.
Jensen has proposed bills to ALEC on behalf of AFC/ASC that were adopted as “model” legislation. For example, in March 2011, Jensen presented to the ALEC Education Task Force the “Education Savings Account Act,” which creates financial incentives for families to take their children out of the public school system and put them in for-profit primary and secondary schools.
AFC was a "Trustee" level sponsor of ALEC’s 2011 Annual Conference – which, according to data from 2010, equated to a $5,000 payment to ALEC.
AFC was founded in 1998 in Milwaukee as the American Education Reform Foundation. It was renamed Advocates for School Choice, Inc. in 2004 and moved to Phoenix, Arizona. It later moved its headquarters to Washington, D.C., and its name was changed to AFC in 2009. 
2012 Campaign Funding
In a brochure released after the 2012 elections, the AFC discussed how their campaign spending shaped electoral outcomes and consequent legislative support for school choice. The document reveals that Wisconsin campaigns received more money from AFC than those in any other state, reaching a total of $2,392,000 for the state out of the $7,165,150 national total spending.
The website states the following:
"The American Federation for Children (AFC) seeks the fundamental transformation of public education through parental choice. We believe public education must be defined as providing families, particularly low-income families, with the public funding they need to choose the education they determine is best for their children. The American Federation for Children envisions a vibrant and successful American education system where achievement is high and where low-income children are provided with the opportunity to attend the finest schools possible, whether these schools are excellent public schools, public charter schools, or private schools."
What We Do
"We assist our state-level partners in recruiting and mobilizing individual supporters to take action in support of specific school choice proposals that provide low-income and middle class children with access to the best schools available. We advocate at the grassroots, grass tops, and directly to legislators in favor of a wide range of school choice initiatives. We also fight against bills and regulatory changes that would hurt existing school choice programs."
History and Operations
"The American Federation for Children was launched in January 2010, when America’s leading private school choice organizations worked together to create a lasting and sustainable structure for the advancement of school choice through the creation of the Federation. This organization traces its roots to the founders of the modern school choice movement, most notably the late John T. Walton, a visionary philanthropist and education reformer. Led by national education reform pioneer Betsy DeVos, the American Federation for Children works at the national, state, and local levels to advance our mission. Our staff is located across the United States, with regional offices in several locations."
Model Legislation and Lobbying
AFC works alongside the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to draft and support model legislation promoting "school choice" and tax reform for schools.
Regarding education, both ALEC and AFC want to expand funding for charter schools while defunding public schools.
You can see the model legislation HERE.
The leadership for 2013 can be found here.
Staff & Advisors
Scott Jensen, Senior Advisor
Michael Benjamin, Dir. of Grassroots Advocacy/Outreach
Zack Dawes, National Development Director
Elisa Clements, Deputy Development Director
Malcom Glenn, National Director of Communications
Randan Swindler, Director of External Affairs
Jennifer Miller, Chief Financial Officer
Articles and Resources
- John Nichols, Right-Wing Billionaires Invest in Wisconsin's Recall Elections to Save School Privatization Agenda, The Nation, August 8, 2011
- ↑ [American Legislative Exchange Council, 2011 Conference Sponsors, conference brochure on file with CMD, August 11, 2011]
- ↑ ALEC Exposed in Wisconsin: The Hijacking of a State, ALEC Exposed, May 2012
- ↑ 2012 Election Impact Report, American Federation for Children, 2013
- ↑ Mission and Vision of AFC,"The American Federation for Children"
This is a list of groups or individuals associated in some capacity with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).