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ALEC's Next Wisconsin Target: Public Education


Monday, October 26, 2015   

MADISON, Wis. - After targeting three of Wisconsin's long-standing laws regarding clean government, which are currently in play at the state capitol, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) will next turn its sights on public education in Wisconsin, says Madison Democrat and State Representative Chris Taylor.

Taylor says ALEC was involved in the effort to change campaign finance laws, to gut the Government Accountability Board, and to exempt public officials from John Doe probes. Next, she says, ALEC will push Republican legislators to attack public education in Wisconsin.

"This is a movement not coming from the people of the state of Wisconsin," says Taylor. "This is a national effort to privatize public education so corporations can make a buck. That's really what this is about. Doesn't help our kids, doesn't help our state."

Republicans defend their moves to revise campaign finance laws and the two other pieces of legislation as needed updates and revisions of outdated laws. Clean government advocates disagree, and none of the legislators affiliated with ALEC contacted for this report would comment.

Taylor says since the Republicans took power in 2011, they have cut $1.2 billion from public education in the state and will push even harder to privatize it.

Taylor says the state is now spending more than a $1,000 less per public school student than it did in 2008, and that funds that should go to public education are now being diverted to private schools via the state's voucher program. Taylor says the next move will be to try to institute Education Savings Accounts.

"What that will do is totally decimate public education, because you will not be able to maintain the public school infrastructure that we have throughout our state when there's not that consistent, predictable funding for that infrastructure," she says. "And that is the point of these Education Savings Accounts."

According to Taylor, the accounts would consist of public money deposited into student accounts that parents could spend on any educational system, something she says will divert vast sums of public money away from the state's public schools.

Taylor, who recently attended an ALEC conference just to learn what the organization was planning, says the push toward more private school vouchers and Education Savings Accounts goes against the state's strong history of great public education.

"It's in our constitution," she says. "Our constitution directs legislators to invest in our public school system, to make sure we're maintaining the public school system. We don't have an obligation to maintain private schools - that's not where taxpayer money should be going."

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