Michael Lipsky is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Demos, and the author of Street-Level Bureaucracy. During the Clinton Administration he served as a member of the Secretary of Labor’s Task Force on Excellence in State and Local Government through Labor-Management Cooperation.
For most of its history ALEC has operated in the background, but its influence recently drew the spotlight when its promotion of “Stand Your Ground” laws came to light in the wake of the killing of Trayvon Martin in Florida. Faced with the potential of consumer boycotts, corporate sponsors such as McDonald’s and Pepsi withdrew their support. Henceforth, the organization announced, it would concentrate on state economic policy.
A lost theme in improving public services—labor-management cooperation—has begun to receive long-overdue attention in recent weeks. Over the weekend The Washington Postgave front-page coverage to a Maryland teachers’ union collaborating with school authorities to accelerate curricular reform and improve teacher performance while disciplining ineffective teachers. Last month, Nicholas Kristof wrote approvingly in the New York Times of a comparable collaboration in New Haven.