Saturday, October 15, 2011

Republican Legislators Moonlight As Privatized Education Lobbyists

State Representative Roving Vos (R-Koch Brothers' Backside) sent out the following email:
From: "Rep.Vos"
Date: October 14, 2011 12:25:28 PM CDT
To: "*Legislative All Assembly" , "*Legislative All Senate"
Subject: Waiting for Superman

Representative Robin Vos

along with Education Committee Chairs

Rep. Steve Kestell and Sen. Luther Olsen

would like to invite you to attend

a screening of the award-winning documentary

Waiting for Superman

2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, October 19th in 412 East.

Open to legislators and staff.

Popcorn will be provided.

WTMJ Radio Host and Author Charlie Sykes

will lead a panel discussion following the movie presentation.


Dr. Tony Evers, State Superintendent of Schools (invited)

Daniel A. Nerad, Superintendent, Madison Metropolitan Schools

Kimber Liedl, Policy Director, Governor Walker

Kaleem Caire, President/CEO, Urban League of Greater Madison

Zeus Rodriguez, President, St. Anthony School, Milwaukee

Jim Lynch, Association of Wisconsin School Administrators (invited)

John Forester, Wisconsin School Administrators (invited)

John Matthews, Executive Director, Madison Teachers, Inc. (invited)

Representative Sondy Pope-Roberts (invited)

WEAC representative (invited)


State Representative Robin Vos
State Capitol - Room 309 East - Post Office Box 8953 - Madison, Wisconsin 53708
Phone: (608) 266-9171 - Toll Free: (888) 534-0063 - Fax (608) 282-3663
For those that weren't aware, "Waiting for Superman" is a propaganda film that disparages public education and claims that the only solutions is to privatize the entire education system.

I question whether this is appropriate conduct by Vos, Luther Olson and Steve Kestell.  They've received lots of campaign donations from the various front groups that are all aimed at privatizing our educational system.  Now, they are using government emails and a government office in a the State Capitol to shill for charter schools.

Even more questionable is inviting the likes of Charlie Sykes, who is deeply beholden to his masters at the Bradley Foundation, an extreme right wing group that sponsors the propagandist WPRI (Weasels Promoting Republican Ideology) of which Sykes is the figurehead of an editor.  (It should also be noted that Sykes' current and third wife - the one he cheated on his second wife with - Janet Riordan, aka Liz Woodhouse, is the Bradley Foundation's Director of Communication.)

It makes me wonder who is paying for this nonsense.

But this all fits in with the Walker/Republican/Koch Brothers/ALEC agenda.  Walker's budget, which slashed education funding by nearly a billion dollars,  is already doing a lot of harm to school districts around the state.  The ones that haven't been affected, or at least pretend they haven't been will be joining the others in having major difficulties next year, leading to higher taxes and/or greatly reduced services.

Then has the schools are beginning to fail due to the lack of funding or are forced to raise taxes just to keep from sinking even faster in the Republican-created abyss, the Republicans will make a strong push to privatizing the entire state's public education system. They will back this maneuver by pointing out that the schools aren't making it, all the while ignoring the fact that they are the sole reason why the schools are having problems.

Nice gimmick, isn't it? The Republicans will set up the schools (or any other service that the government provides) for failure by cutting them off at the knees financially.  Then when the schools do start to fail, they use that as an excuse to take them over and privatize the schools (or whatever service in question).

Tommy Thompson, Alberta Darling, Margaret Farrow and company did the same thing in the late 1990s to the Milwaukee Child Welfare system.  They underfunded Milwaukee County's foster care system, then took it over and privatized it.  Today it costs tens of millions of dollars more each year to operate and is actually worse than the underfunded system when Milwaukee County ran it.

Scott Walker also tried to do the same thing as Milwaukee County Executive with the Income Maintenance Program.  He severely understaffed it even though it had adequate funding.  Then when it inevitably started to fail, he tried to privatize it.  Fortunately he was thwarted by the Milwaukee County Board and then by Governor Jim Doyle.  Otherwise it would have cost tax payers many millions of dollars as well.

Just when you think that the Republicans have reached the nadir of poor behavior, they always come up with an even lower point.  And then they wonder why the people are in open revolt and want to get them out of office with all due haste.


  1. If anyone wants to volunteer to get Rep Robin Vos out of office when his term expires, please email:

  2. Hey Anonymous.
    I wish you good luck at finding someone.

    I was appalled when I read you blog about this event. Whow. I knew Luther was bad news to be placed on Walker's Education "reform" committee from the start!! I had worked to get rid of him during the recalls but just too many red folks out there.

    Yes, that film is devastating to public schools.

    This whole event is not good for public education that is for sure.

  3. Chris,

    What is the difference between politicians advocating for choice schools and politicians advocating for public schools?

  4. Republicans just want to own everything.

    F-them. F-them-all.

    BTW, WHO is bringing the popcorn?

    And WHO is paying for the popcorn!

  5. Does anyone have an answer as to why there is a problem with Vos' email?

  6. Anonymous - First of all, that's a false question since this is not advocacy, this is shilling.

    Secondly, show me when and where politicians took money to promote public schools in an illegal setting.

    Thirdly, It is a conflict of interest.

    Fourthly, it is a misuse of government property and government equipment.

    Fifthly, it is unethical.

    Sixthly, if you do not understand how privatization can be a bad thing, you probably don't understand the first five points anyway.

  7. Mr. Capper,

    I just checked through your posts, and I don't see criticisms of Democrat politicians who shill for public schools. Democrats that left the state to delay a budget vote strikes me as a good example of shilling for public schools. Teachers unions fund the campaigns of these politicians for the purposes of suppressing the growth of choice schools. That's a whole lot of "conflict of existence."

    Btw, why is conducting a panel discussion on a film unethical?

  8. You're right, because their has been no politicians holding special viewings of propaganda films to promote public schools. We already know they work well when they're allowed to.

    The panel itself is not unethical. Holding a selling session, or in other words, selling your employers product, is not allowed in government buildings. it would be much more appropriate for them to hold their selling session in a private setting.

  9. Mr. Capper,

    Who is the employer in this case? Is the producer of "Waiting for Superman" writing checks to Representative Vos?

    Also, what do you mean by public schools working well "when they're allowed to." What does MPS need, for instance, to make it work well? I hope your answer is not more funding because some of the best funded school districts still put up poor numbers.

  10. Your disingenuousness is insulting. Did I not mention the Bradley Foundation? There are also all the well-moneyed special interest groups like Scott Jennings that have a hand in this.

    As for MPS, or any other school, you have to fix the societal problems first. A child won't do well in school if they are hungry or worried where they will sleep that night. Those problems will not be solved by taking money away from programs that work and consolidating the wealth among a few hand picked individuals or businesses.

    Now, if you wish to continue trolling, be my guest. But if you're not interested in honest conversation, I shan't waste any more time.

    Good evening to you.

  11. Is this how you treat your guests?

    Regarding MPS, they finished second to last in the nation for their graduation rates; and presumably, other public schools have comparable poverty rates and do better than MPS.

    Clearly, hunger affects concentration and learning, but kids that go to MPCP schools are more impoverished than MPS kids, yet their graduation rates are better. Certainly, home life will have a lot to do with how a kid progresses academically, this is why curricula matters.

    Concerning organizations like the Bradley Foundation, I see no difference between their funding and funding from union groups. Lobbyists and lobbyists.

  12. Indeed, one could ask if this is how you treat your hosts.

    MPCP kids are not the most impoverished. Secondly, MPCP schools do not take ED/LD kids or are held to the same standard as regular schools. You are setting up straw arguments that are a waste of both our times.

    I don't recall any union publishing an openly racist book like Bradley did, do you? Furthermore, unions hold their events at union halls or other such buildings, not government buildings.

    And curricula will not change the inherent problems in society.

  13. This will be my last response because it seems like we are recycling points.

    I never said, thought, or intended the point that curricula changes the inherent problems of society. When we're dealing with troubled home life, schools cannot repair their families, but must do the best they can at the school considering the circumstances. I think reforming society is a big task, and we shouldn't hold our breaths.

    MPCP students are more impoverished than MPS students by definition since the income eligibility standard was 175% of the federal poverty level. Of course, that has changed under the new budget. So again, MPCP kids deal with hunger as well, but don't have food programs. They manage to do quite well as a whole.

    And dealing with disabled kids is sort of a rabbit trail I don't wish to follow. MPS categorizes their disabled kids differently than MPCP. They also have a greater incentive to label them as disabled due to federal funding. MPCP doesn't get the same financial incentives. And finally, Republicans tried to pass a bill that would provide more funding to choice schools for taking disabled students, which Democrats rejected. So here we have Democrats complaining that MPCP doesn't take disabled kids, but they block bills that would enable MPCP to take in disabled kids. But that is entirely a different issue.

    And lastly, there is nothing illegal or unethical about having a panel discussion on a film, propaganda or otherwise, at a public building. You do have the right to complain about it as a taxpayer, but it's not illegal or unethical.

  14. Thank you for pointing out that the MPCP schools cannot or more likely, will not, do the same things that public schools do day in and day out. And isn't it telling that even though they do not take ED/LD/PD children they still do no better than public schools in every single study not paid for by privatization advocates.

    And yes, I do have a right to complain, but it is indeed illegal and unethical. It's simply that conservatives obviously don't think such things apply to them.

  15. Capper thank you for posting this. Even more important to point out is that this is not a "panel discussion" of an ordinary sort. Other than Dan Nerad, there is no genuine representative of public schools in that group (among those who are confirmed guests) to counter the propaganda of "Waiting for Superman." Neither are there any people on the panel who could provide the academic critique of charter schools, and the critique that the movie deserves.

    Most definitely not appropriate for the State Capitol. Like holding a hearing when only one side is allowed to present its information. ... Oh, I guess Mr. Vos is familiar with that.

  16. Perhaps this will help - maybe seeing how the corporate money flows into the state to support politicians who made the most drastic cuts to public education since the Great Depression (thus, not making schools "the same or better" as Walker suggests) and who work to privatize (thus, segregate and bring back more inequality to education) will help with your argument.

  17. I also don't think that the solutions offered by "Waiting for Superman" would do any good in a district like Olsen's. I am upset that they are using this propaganda film as some sort of educational information. It is very biased.