The American Federation for Children
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The American Federation for Children (AFC) is a conservative 501(c)(4) advocacy group that promotes the school privatization agenda via the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and other avenues. It is the 501(c)(4) arm of the 501(c)(3) non-profit group the Alliance for School Choice. Former Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen, who was charged with multiple crimes stemming from abuse of his office, is on staff at ASC as Senior Advisor to its Government Affairs Team.
In the organization's own words, ASC is "a leading national advocacy organization promoting school choice, with a specific focus on advocating for school vouchers and scholarship tax credit programs."
Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council
AFC was a "Trustee" level sponsor of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) 2011 Annual Conference, which in 2010 equated to $5,000. It also sponsored ALEC's 2013 40th Anniversary annual meeting, again at the "Trustee" level. AFC is also a member of ALEC's Education Task Force. Scott Jensen represented the organization on the task force as of July 2011 (ALEC also lists him as representing the 501(c)(3) wing of the group, Alliance for School Choice). AFC sponsored the "Education Savings Account Act" at ALEC's April 2011 meeting in Cincinnati. It was approved by the Education Task Force and, after sign-off by the ALEC Board of Directors, became an ALEC bill.
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.
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.
Board of Directors
As of September 2013:
- Betsy DeVos, Chairman
- John F. Kirtley, Vice Chairman
- H. Lee Barfield, II
- R. Boykin Curry
- Kathy Hubbard
- Carrie Penner
Staff and Advisors
As of September 2013:
- Greg Brock, Executive Director
- John Schilling, Chief Operating Officer
- Kevin P. Chavous, Executive Counsel
- Scott Jensen, Senior Advisor
- Jonathan Nikkila, Director, Government Affairs
- Adam Rogalski, Political Director
- Whitney Marcavage, Policy Director
- Sean Bradley, Legislative Director
- Michael Benjamin, Dir. of Grassroots Advocacy/Outreach
- Zack Dawes, National Development Director
- Elisa Clements, Deputy Development Director
- Malcom Glenn, National Director of Communications
- Randan Steinhauser, Director of External Affairs
- Jennifer Miller, Chief Financial Officer
1660 L Street, NW Suite 1000
Washington, D.C. 20036
Phone: (202) 280-1990
Fax: (202) 280-1989
Articles and Resources
Related SourceWatch Articles
- Alliance for School Choice
- Scott Jensen
- Betsy DeVos
- American Legislative Exchange Council
Related PRWatch Articles
- Lisa Graves, ALECexposed: List of Corporations and Special Interests that Underwrote ALEC's 40th Anniversary Meeting, PRWatch, August 15, 2013.
- Brendan Fischer, Former Indiana Superintendent, Lauded by ALEC and Education Privatizers, Cheats on School Grading Formula for Top Donor, PRWatch, July 30, 2013.
- Brendan Fischer, Cashing in on Kids: 139 ALEC Bills in 2013 Promote a Private, For-Profit Education Model, PRWatch, July 16, 2013.
- Brendan Fischer, War on Democracy in Wisconsin: Bill Would Enact Voter ID, End Disclosure, Limit Early Voting, Expand Lobbyist Influence, PRWatch, May 29, 2013.
- Brendan Fischer, Scott Walker, GOP Slip ALEC Education Agenda Into Wisconsin Budget, PRWatch, May 23, 2013.
- Brendan Fischer, "Issue Ad" Charade by American Federation for Children Uncovered in Wisconsin, PRWatch, May 8, 2013.
- Harriet Rowan, Conservative School Choice Group Spends Big Supporting Pro-School Choice Democrats, PRWatch, August 10, 2012.
- Sara Jerving, Front Groups Dive Into Wisconsin Recall Elections, PRWatch, August 4, 2011.
- Anne Landman, Wealthy Families, Corporate-Backed Foundations Behind Push for School Vouchers, PRWatch, May 27, 2011.
- Dustin Beilke, Wisconsin Education Reform Only ALEC Could Love, PRWatch, March 1, 2012.
- Jennifer Page, Walker Promotes Education Privatization in D.C. Amid Protests, PRWatch, May 11, 2011.
- John Nichols, Right-Wing Billionaires Invest in Wisconsin's Recall Elections to Save School Privatization Agenda, The Nation, August 8, 2011
- ↑ Lisa Graves, Taxpayer-Enriched Companies Back Jeb Bush's Foundation for Excellence in Education, its Buddy ALEC, and Their "Reforms", PRWatch, November 28, 2012.
- ↑ Alliance for School Choice, Leadership, organizational website, accessed September 2013.
- ↑ American Federation for Children, Mission, organizational website, accessed September 2013.
- ↑ [American Legislative Exchange Council, 2011 Conference Sponsors, conference brochure on file with CMD, August 11, 2011]
- ↑ Lisa Graves, ALECexposed: List of Corporations and Special Interests that Underwrote ALEC's 40th Anniversary Meeting, PRWatch, August 15, 2013.
- ↑ American Legislative Exchange Council, Education As of 7/1/2011, organizational task force membership roster, July 1, 2011, obtained and released by Common Cause, April 2012.
- ↑ ALEC Exposed in Wisconsin: The Hijacking of a State, ALEC Exposed, May 2012
- ↑ 2012 Election Impact Report, American Federation for Children, 2013.
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 American Federation for Children, Leadership, organizational website, accessed September 2013.
This is a list of groups or individuals associated in some capacity with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).