EdChoice (formerly the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice) is an Indiana-based nonprofit devoted to the privatization of schools through the promotion of an educational voucher system. The right-wing 501(c)(3) nonprofit is an associate member of the State Policy Network (SPN).
EdChoice was founded by right-wing economists Milton Friedman and Rose Friedman in 1996. Milton Friedman is regarded as one of the most influential proponents of neo-liberal market economics. According to the organization's website, the foundation's mission is "amplifying the national call for true education reform through school choice." The organization provides research and marketing services to local and national organizations promoting the educational voucher system among legislators and the public.
State Policy Network
SPN is a web of right-wing “think tanks” and tax-exempt organizations in 50 states, Washington, D.C., Canada, and the United Kingdom. As of January 2021, SPN's membership totals 163. Today's SPN is the tip of the spear of far-right, nationally funded policy agenda in the states that undergirds extremists in the Republican Party. SPN Executive Director Tracie Sharp told the Wall Street Journal in 2017 that the revenue of the combined groups was some $80 million, but a 2019 analysis of SPN's main members IRS filings by the Center for Media and Democracy shows that the combined revenue is over $120 million. Although SPN's member organizations claim to be nonpartisan and independent, the Center for Media and Democracy's in-depth investigation, "EXPOSED: The State Policy Network -- The Powerful Right-Wing Network Helping to Hijack State Politics and Government," reveals that SPN and its member think tanks are major drivers of the right-wing, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)-backed corporate agenda in state houses nationwide, with deep ties to the Koch brothers and the national right-wing network of funders.
In response to CMD's report, SPN Executive Director Tracie Sharp told national and statehouse reporters that SPN affiliates are "fiercely independent." Later the same week, however, The New Yorker's Jane Mayer caught Sharp in a contradiction. In her article, "Is IKEA the New Model for the Conservative Movement?," the Pulitzer-nominated reporter revealed that, in a recent meeting behind closed doors with the heads of SPN affiliates around the country, Sharp "compared the organization’s model to that of the giant global chain IKEA." She reportedly said that SPN "would provide 'the raw materials,' along with the 'services' needed to assemble the products. Rather than acting like passive customers who buy finished products, she wanted each state group to show the enterprise and creativity needed to assemble the parts in their home states. 'Pick what you need,' she said, 'and customize it for what works best for you.'" Not only that, but Sharp "also acknowledged privately to the members that the organization's often anonymous donors frequently shape the agenda. 'The grants are driven by donor intent,' she told the gathered think-tank heads. She added that, often, 'the donors have a very specific idea of what they want to happen.'"
A set of coordinated fundraising proposals obtained and released by The Guardian in early December 2013 confirm many of these SPN members' intent to change state laws and policies, referring to "advancing model legislation" and "candidate briefings." These activities "arguably cross the line into lobbying," The Guardian notes.
Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council
EdChoice has worked with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), along with the Alliance for School Choice to develop model legislation to be introduced into state legislatures across the country. The organization was a "Chair" level sponsor of the ALEC Annual Conference in 2016, which equated to $50,000 in 2010, and was one of around 60 organizations represented at the exhibition hall at the ALEC annual meeting in 2011.
Matthew Ladner, an EdChoice Fellow and Koch Fellow at the Charles Koch Institute, is the co-author of ALEC's "Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform."
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.
- Total Revenue: $10,167,856
- Total Expenses: $4,881,752
- Net Assets: $12,419,394
- Total Revenue: $4,985,827
- Total Expenses: $5,209,399
- Net Assets: $6,934,365
- Total Revenue: $5,235,726
- Total Expenses: $4,888,817
- Net Assets: $7,121,086
- Total Revenue: $4,809,137
- Total Expenses: $4,109,218
- Net Assets: $6,319,338
Board of Directors
As of March 20, 2017:
- Board Chair Dr. Patrick Byrne, Chairman and President of Overstock.com
- Vice Chair Janet F. Martel, Attorney
- President and CEO Robert C. Enlow, The Foundation for Educational Choice
- Treasurer Lawrence A. O'Connor, Jr., Executive Director, Butler Business Accelerator
- Secretary J. Scott Enright, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Emmis Communications Corporation
- Charles H. Brunie, Brunie Associates
- Dr. David D. Friedman, Professor, Santa Clara University
- William J. Hume, Chairman of the Board, Basic American, Inc.
- Fred Reams, Reams Asset Management
- Dr. Michael Walker, President, The Fraser Institute Foundation
- Virginia Walden Ford, Education Activist
- Fred Klipsch, Chair, Hoosier for Quality Education
Former Board of Directors
- President Emeritus Gordon St. Angelo, The Foundation for Educational Choice
- Samuel H. Husband, Jr., President, Husbands Capital Markets
- Sandra Jordan, Owner & Creative Director, Jordan Winery
- Howard S. Rich, Rich & Rich
- Robert C. Enlow, President and CEO
- Brian McGrath, Vice President of External Relations
- Leslie Hiner, Vice President of Programs
- Carey Folco, Vice President of Operations
- Paul DiPerna, Vice President of Research and Innovation
- Jennifer Wagner, Vice President of Communications
- Jason Bedrick, Director of Policy
- Katie Brooks, Marketing Director
- Drew Catt, Director of State Research and Policy Analysis
- Michael Chartier, Director of State Engagement
- Emory Edwards, Outreach Coordinator
- Ed Failor III, Director of State Engagement
- Abby Hayes, Marketing Coordinator
- Keri Hunter, Director of Training and Outreach
- Mandy Kett, Office Manager
- Martin Lueken, Director of Fiscal Policy and Analysis
- Michael Shaw, Research Assistant
- Michelle Stephens, Controller
- Drew Vessely, Art Director
- Jacob Vinson, Production Artist
- Veronica Wilson, Donor Relations Manager
- Greg Forster, Friedman Fellow
- Michael Podgursky, Friedman Fellow
- Benjamin Scafidi, Friedman Fellow
- Lindsey M. Burke, EdChoice Fellow, Heritage Foundation
- Matthew Ladner, EdChoice Fellow, Senior Koch Fellow at the Charles Koch Institute
- John Merrifield, EdChoice Fellow
- James V. Shuls, EdChoice Fellow
Employer Identification Number (EIN): 35-1978359
- State Policy Network, Directory, organizational website, accessed March 20, 2016.
- Ed Choice, What We Do, organizational website, accessed August 15, 2011.
- David Armiak, Revenue for State Policy Network and State Affiliates Tops $120 Million, ExposedbyCMD, November 13, 2019.
- Rebekah Wilce, Center for Media and Democracy, EXPOSED: The State Policy Network -- The Powerful Right-Wing Network Helping to Hijack State Politics and Government, organizational report, November 13, 2013.
- Jane Mayer, Is IKEA the New Model for the Conservative Movement?, The New Yorker, November 15, 2013.
- Ed Pilkington and Suzanne Goldenberg, State conservative groups plan US-wide assault on education, health and tax, The Guardian, December 5, 2013.
- EdChoice, Model Legislation, organizational website, accessed August 15, 2011.
- Nick Surgey, ExxonMobil Top Sponsor at ALEC Annual Meeting, Exposed by CMD, Center for Media and Democracy, July 27, 2016.
- American Legislative Exchange Council, "Solutions for the States," 38th Annual Meeting agenda, on file with CMD, August 3-6, 2011
- EdChoice, Matthew Ladner, organizational website, accessed March 20, 2017.
- EdChoice, 2014 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, August 15, 2015.
- EdChoice, 2013 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, August 15, 2014.
- EdChoice, 2012 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, August 15, 2013.
- EdChoice, Our Team, organizational website, accessed March 20, 2017.
- EdChoice, Board of Directors, organizational website, accessed August 15, 2011.
This is a list of groups or individuals associated in some capacity with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).