Thomas B. Fordham Foundation
The Thomas B. Fordham Institute "believes that all children deserve a high quality K-12 education at the school of their choice. Nationally and in our home state of Ohio, we strive to close America's vexing achievement gaps by raising standards, strengthening accountability, and expanding education options for parents and families."  The Thomas B. Fordham Foundation is an "Associate Member" of the State Policy Network, and the Thomas B. Fordham Institute is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) Education Task Force.
Ties to 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 ExposedbyCMD.org site.
Ties to the 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.
Accessed September 2008: 
- David P. Driscoll - Former Commissioner of Education, Commonwealth of Massachusetts
- Chester E. Finn, Jr. - President, Thomas B. Fordham Institute
- Thomas A. Holton - Partner, Porter Wright Morris & Arthur
- Michael W. Kelly - President and CEO, Central Park Credit Bank
- Craig Kennedy - President, German Marshall Fund of the United States
- Bruno V. Manno - Senior Program Associate, Annie E. Casey Foundation
- Rod Paige - Chairman, Chartwell Education Group LLC
- David H. Ponitz - President Emeritus, Sinclair Community College
- Diane Ravitch - Research Professor, New York University
- Chester E. Finn Esq. (1918-2007)
- Bruce Kovner - Trustee Emeritus, Chairman, Caxton Associates LLC
Resources and Articles
Related SourceWatch Articles
- Charles R. Hokanson, Jr. - Former finance director
- E.G. West Centre
- State Policy Network
- Joe Williams
- Who we are, Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, accessed September 19, 2008.
- State Policy Network, Directory, organizational website, accessed November 2013.
- American Legislative Exchange Council, ALEC 40th Anniversary Annual Meeting Board Meeting packet, organizational documents, August 6, 2013, released by The Guardian December 3, 2013.
- 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.
- Trustees, Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, accessed September 19, 2008.
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