Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Fitzwalkerstan is Back: Next Budget Devastates Public Education and Subsidizes Koch Interests & Frac Sand

Gratefully, we did not wake up this morning to the nightmare of a Romney/Ryan presidency.  Flying under the radar right now in Wisconsin is the fact that the republicans have taken back control of the State Senate and again have full-control of all three branches of government (not to mention the Choke-A-Palooza at the Supreme Court).  This isn't surprising considering the gerrymandering that was done to cement republican control -- but we still have a major problem on our hands in the Badger State.

According to a Chief of Staff with the office of a high-ranking Wisconsin Senator, Gov. Scott Walker's next budget is going to be used to hammer public education and VOICES has it from well placed sources that the next candidate for Wisconsin DPI Superintendent will be none other than the wife of republican education committee chair, Luther Olsen.  Joan Wade has been using her stewardship at CESA 6 to undermine public education (Warning:  video propaganda) for many years -- they have one goal:  Privatize School.


Tony Evers, currently the Superintendent of Schools at Wisconsin's DPI, will not be a strong candidate -- his administration, while not solely responsible for creating racist public schools, refuses to honor just and reasonable open records requests on exemptions DPI has granted to schools if they promise to create fair lotteries for enrollments.

VOICES has been working this story all year and will start filing reports soon -- these "lotteries" are racist and school districts use them to exclude higher-needs students from enrichment programs, literally allowing them to steal resources from the kids that need them the most and create separate-but-unequal schools.

This is done by counseling families out of entering their children into the lottery -- school district officials and even teachers tell some families that the new enriched charter schools will not serve some children's needs, which actually violates state law.  The new schools get extra resources and technologies and these dollars come directly from the kids that could have benefited from them the most.

Because attorneys at DPI have flagrantly lied with written statements that DPI has "no information" about which schools are given exemptions to create charter schools which would otherwise be illegal, a complaint has been prepared and will be filed with Wisconsin Supreme Court's Lawyer Ethics and Regulation Division if and when Ever's office fails to comply with the open records request.

This story deserves, and will get, its own report soon.  As a courtesy to Dr. Evers, one more formal request has been presented to the Superintendent before this complaint will be filed with the Wisconsin Supreme Court -- other action is in the works as well.

The next budget, which democrats are now powerless to stop, will also include at least $50 million to subsidize the largest privately-held transportation company in the world, WATCO -- this organization can be directly tied to the Koch brothers.  WATCO told Rep. Brett Hulsey that 70 percent of their business is with Koch industries -- it is not possible to actually see who directly or indirectly has interests in privately held corporate structures.

And the purpose of subsidizing the largest privately-held transportation holding company in the world is so that Koch interests can get cheap frac sand for fracking gas and oil.

VOICES does not have a crystal ball, but can identify lay out our concerns as follows:
  • The Walker administration will have its way with another 2-year budget
  • Public education is the last untapped market in America -- huge amounts of money available and private interests that could tap into those monies would essentially have monopolies providing the type of school or schools they choose to specialize in.
  • Luther Olsen (see video link above if you can stomach it) has been promoting the idea that Wisconsin has no choice but to defund public education -- his schtick, believe-it-or-not, is that if we pulled the rug out from under public schools and endless assortment of private schools would emerge from the grassroots to serve every student's needs (pretty silly stuff)
  • The next Walker budget will take Wisconsin down the road to Luther Olson's "vision" -- defunding public schools and creating a crisis that most will not be able to deal with.  Is this what Walker means by "divide and conquer"?
  • Time will tell if Luther Olson's wife throws her hat in the ring and runs for DPI Superintendent, if she does, she will be immediately have the backing of the same billionaires that underwrote Scott Walker -- she also will have the support of school districts and even teachers in important parts of the state.
  • Dr. Evers is not actually willing to stand up for equity in education -- as long as he has a major role, there is no reason to believe he will take meaningful stands to support public education even if he remains at DPI
  • If the political climate in Wisconsin remains polarized, which it will for the foreseeable future, Evers will likely supports and work with whomever has the upper hand.  Don't expect any stands on principle or equity.
  • Walker will engineer a massive crisis in the next 2-year budget and the public will be told the only solution for this manufactured crisis will be to privatize schools.

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