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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I'd love to see the simple answer to this simple question

by folkbum

Here's one thing I don't understand, and haven't for years now: Why on FSM's parmesan-covered earth do pro-school-voucher forces get involved in the races for the Milwaukee Board of School Directors? I mean, seriously. The MPS board has about as much control over the voucher program as I do.

And yet for many years, voucher advocates have poured literally tens of millions of dollars into the races, and countless hours of "training" and "consulting." The Walton family, of Wal*mart fame, for example, used to bankroll many candidates a decade or so ago, and plenty of other out-of-state money flowed into Milwaukee as well. The Wall Street Journal at least once infamously waded into Milwaukee school board politics, going so far as to endorse and solicit money for pro-voucher candidates on its editorial pages.

Let me reiterate: The Milwaukee Board of School Directors does not control, has never controlled, and will never control anything about Milwaukee's school-choice program.

So why the history? And why is there another pro-voucher group that's been dipping its grubby paws into the current election for school board, offering training, talking points, and funding for three candidates this spring? This is the same group responsible for push-polling (twice) against current board president Peter Blewett, telling outright lies in its polling questions and polling people far outside Blewett's district.

The group, "Advocates for Student Achievement," helped elect Bruce Thompson two years ago, and is working with a candidate in all three contested races this spring.

So why is a pro-privatization outfit trying to get candidates on the public schools board? I figure it can only be one of two things: One, they are too dumb to know the legal realities. Or, more likely, two: They are plotting how to funnel money from the public schools into private ventures from their seats of power.

In this time of transition--the new board will likely be hiring a new superintendent in the next year or so--it is key that we have people on the board who place public education first, whose loyalties are to the small donors and volunteers helping to get them elected instead of shady PACs and push-pollers. Support Blewett, Michael Mathias, and Donna Peck on April 7.

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