DeForest Area Progressives
Meeting notes from June 22, 2015
Next meeting: Monday, June 29, 2015, 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Ginny’s, 3922 Partridge Road, Windsor Hill neighborhood.
There were six people at the meeting on the 22nd.
Most of the meeting was spent in conversation with Heather Dubois Bourenane, coordinator for the Wisconsin Public Education Network (WPEN). Heather is also an active member of our sister progressive organization, SPARC of Sun Prairie. The WPEN is a statewide organization that meets once a month and through its email network. The purpose is to find some unity of message amidst the many assaults on public schools taking place right now. Powerful lobbying groups like the American Federation for Children have influenced our legislature and governor to replace public education with a patchwork of private charter schools and voucher systems. Even at the local school board level, some school boards now have members who actually oppose public schools! WPEN believes that public schools are at the heart of our communities and democracy.
The activities of WPEN are directed toward telling our legislators that their wrong policies do not reflect the will of their constituents. The right wing agenda is to redirect public school money – tax money – to pay for private school tuition, reducing the finances available to public school districts. If the state budget passes the way it is, some schools will close. Rural schools will suffer the most.
In Wisconsin, all of the schools that have applied to be voucher schools are religious schools. Eighty-six percent of kids using vouchers have been in their private school the previous year, so the claim that vouchers will enable poor children to change schools if they see fit is fiction. There are no state standards for private schools, no regulations. Private schools can discriminate against students who apply to them and “cherry-pick” the best students and not have to take special needs students or troubled students. Heather was quick to add that she is not intending to bash private schools. The point is that public money should not be going to pay for unaccountable private schools, most of which provide religious instruction along with the other subjects, to the detriment of existing public schools.
Heather suggested that those of us who do not approve of what this state biennial budget does to public education, should let our elected representatives know that if they support it we will not vote for them next election. She also asked that we “like” WPEN’s Facebook page. We shared much more during the discussion, but this is the gist of it. Thank you very much, Heather, for your expertise and your work. You can contact Heather at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 608-572-1696.
Karen sold $25 worth of buttons for DAP at the energy fair in Custer last weekend. She said she could have done better if she had been located at a different table. The treasury reimbursed her $128 for ink cartridges. Karen has plans for more button sales in the future.
Fourth of July parade float building is progressing. The theme is “Capturing Democracy” with a butterfly motif. If you want to join in with the float project and ride or walk along during the parade, contact Ginny.
Regarding the proposed name change of DeForest Area Progressives from that to DeForest Area Action Team, Ginny said she talked to Marcia about it and Marcia asked that we wait until she gets back to decide.
Peter reported on much activity with the Dane County Democratic Party and voter registration. He has been informed that 8000 Dane County voters do not have voter ID. Peter said that Representative Ellison from Minnesota is starting a “Voters First” initiative. Peter will look into it and report back. The new Wisconsin Democratic Party chair, Martha Laning, is collecting stories about how the governor’s policies are affecting real people throughout the state.
What new project(s) does DAP want to start? Ginny would like to invite the DeForest police chief to talk to us, as she heard that Waunakee GROW had an interesting session with their chief.
John St. informed the group of a July 25th celebration being planned for Jeff Smith to present him with an award for his unselfish withdrawal from the race for DPW chair in favor of Martha Laning.
John also requested assistance with the August 8th media summit in Stevens Point that he is coordinating. If you can help John with publicity or logistics at the summit, contact him.