ALEC and the Arizona legislature: School Choice Directory Act


by David Safier

In 2011, when information was just getting out about ALEC and its influence on Republican state legislators across the country, I wrote a series of posts, with the help of Lisa Hoffman who did most of the research, about Arizona legislation based on ALEC Model Bills. Here's one example: a post about an Eminent Domain bill.

I just uncovered a new AZ bill that comes from ALEC model legislation, SB1285. This is a twofer, because it involves both ALEC and the Goldwater Institute, which have a very close relationship. The bill would create a handbook to be sent to all parents who have students in public schools, charter and district, listing every school option in the state — public schools and private schools — as well as all the relevant information.

The model legislation was presented when ALEC's Education Task Force met on October 25, 2012. I've created a pdf document that has the complete Arizona bill on the left and the ALEC model legislation on the right. The Arizona sections in blue match up with the ALEC sections in black with only minor changes in wording. The one innovation in the Arizona bill is how it would be funded — from federal Title 1 money whose purpose is to fund schools with lower income students. Taking money from the poor — that's so Arizona legislature!

Here's where the Goldwater Institute comes in. The presenter and sponsor of the model legislation at the meeting was Jonathan Butcher, G.I.'s Education Director. G.I. created a piece of model legislation that was picked up by Arizona Republicans and is now added to the list of hundreds of model bills conservatives from across the country can choose from. (If you want to know more about how this works, go to

The bill failed, going down 5-4 in the Senate Education Committee. The weird part of the vote is, the dissenting Republican who killed the bill was one of its sponsors, Chester Crandell. There's an interesting story in there somewhere. (The other sponsors were Republicans Kelli Ward, Rick Murphy, Adam Kwasman, Paul Boyer, Debbie Lesko and Al Melvin.)


  1. Ah. I don’t know, and I hadn’t thought about that, Donna. But if it was a 4-5 vote, and a Yes vote from Cradell would have made it 5-4, why would he have voted against it — unless he wants to modify it in some way and bring it back. Hmm. Too deep for me.