Public schools,” ALEC wrote in its 1985 Education Source Book, “meet all of the needs of all of the people without pleasing anyone.” A better system, the organization argued, would “foster educational freedom and quality” through various forms of privatization: vouchers, tax incentives for sending children to private schools and unregulated private charter schools. Today ALEC calls this “choice”– and vouchers “scholarships”–but it amounts to an ideological mission to defund and redesign public schools.
The first large-scale voucher program, the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, was enacted in 1990 following the rubric ALEC provided in 1985. It was championed by then-Governor Tommy Thompson, an early ALEC member, who once said he “loved” ALEC meetings, “because I always found new ideas, and then I’d take them back to Wisconsin, disguise them a little bit, and declare [they were] mine.”
ALEC’s most ambitious and strategic push toward privatizing education came in 2007, through a publication called School Choice and State Constitutions, which proposed a list of programs tailored to each state.
- Locally, via a kind reader’s email, the Madison School District’s preliminary budget plans to spend about $362,000,000 for 25,000 students, about $14,480 per student.. The District’s budget has been largely flat for several years, after growing at 5.25% annually for some time.
- Was the $5 Billion Worth It? A decade into his record-breaking education philanthropy, Bill Gates talks teachers, charters–and regrets, Mea Culpa on Small Learning Communities; Does More Money Matter?; the article mentions that we spend about $600,000,000,000 annually on public education.
- How does Wisconsin compare?
- Several Wisconsin Senate recall elections occur in a few weeks. (WEAC has many links along with Madison Teachers, Inc, AFT-Wisconsin and the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association.
- Chris Wilson: Two “simple” graphs reveal US Federal Government cash and debt positions.
- Wisconsin Ranks #4 in tax burden, Minnesota 7 and Massachusetts 11.