Wisconsin's 2013-2015 biennial budget sits on Governor Walker's desk awaiting his signature. Included in the budget is a provision allocating $1 million in taxpayer funds over the next two years to the controversial education organization Teach for America.
Student activists and their allies gathered outside Sallie Mae’s annual shareholder meeting on May 30 to demand increased transparency and accountability from the nation’s largest student loan lender, and to draw attention to the worsening problem of student debt. Allie Gardner, a student at the University of Wisconsin – Madison drove to Delaware from Wisconsin to attend the shareholder meeting and demand a meeting with the CEO; "Sallie Mae doesn’t exist to protect students, and they are not willing to work with students. They exist to profit off of us."
Governor Scott Walker seeks to "radically" overhaul Wisconsin's education system using several pieces of American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) model legislation, and to do it through the budget process, meaning this privatization agenda could be enacted with minimal public discussion or debate.
Dark money nonprofits spent hundreds of millions in the 2012 elections, but reported only a fraction of that thanks to an "issue advocacy" loophole that requires only limited disclosure for ads that don't explicitly urge viewers to vote for or against a candidate. Federal and state elections officials have rarely probed whether a group's so-called "issue ads" are really intended to influence elections -- but in Wisconsin, a politically-active nonprofit exposed its issue ad charade on its own.
On March 1, 2013, Milwaukee Country prosecutors shut down the long running "John Doe" probe into corruption in Scott Walker's office during the time he served as Milwaukee County Executive. Six people were charged and convicted, including three former Walker staff, but no charges were brought against Walker. Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm issued a brief, telling statement: "After a review of the John Doe evidence, I am satisfied that all charges that are supported by proof beyond a reasonable doubt have now been brought and concluded."
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who became nationally known for severely limiting the union rights of teachers and other public employees, has indicated support for arming those same school officials who apparently cannot be trusted to collectively bargain.
A press release from a conservative think tank criticizing the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) provides crucial insight into how the organization works -- and helps illustrate that while ALEC says its purpose is to facilitate an exchange of "practical, state-level public policy issues," it instead sells policy to the highest bidders. The release documents how the "exchange" that happens at ALEC is more like a stock exchange than a free marketplace of ideas.
This week in Washington, DC, Jeb Bush's "Foundation for Excellence in Education" (FEE) is meeting just five blocks away from the post-election conference of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the controversial corporate bill mill working on profitizing public education among other legislative changes, but the ties between the two groups are even closer.
An unsettling trend appears to be underway in Arizona: the use of private prison employees in law enforcement operations.
The state has graced national headlines in recent years as the result of its cozy relationship with the for-profit prison industry. Such controversies have included the role of private prison corporations in SB 1070 and similar anti-immigrant legislation disseminated in other states; a 2010 private prison escape that resulted in two murders and a nationwide manhunt; and a failed bid to privatize nearly the entire Arizona prison system.
-- by Mary Bottari and Sara Jerving
Well-funded advocates of privatizing the nation's education system are employing a new strategy this fall to enlist support for the cause. The emotionally engaging Hollywood film "Won't Back Down" -- set for release September 28 -- portrays so-called "Parent Trigger" laws as an effective mechanism for transforming underperforming public schools. But the film's distortion of the facts prompts a closer examination of its funders and backers and a closer look at those promoting Parent Trigger as a cure for what ails the American education system.