Bradley Foundation’s Radical Education Privatization Campaign Rolls On

Updated Research Finds Over 130 Organizations Part of $108 Million-Plus Propaganda Campaign

MADISON, Wis. — In recent years, the unaccountable private school voucher program dramatically expanded in Wisconsin while state public schools suffered the 4th largest budget cuts in the nation. What’s the explanation for the shift in priorities when, according to independent studies, vouchers fail to produce any significant increase in student achievement? Updated research from One Wisconsin Institute exposing the right-wing Bradley Foundation’s spending over $108 million in support of education privatization from 2005 to 2014 provides some answers.

“The Bradley Foundation supports the radical privatization of public schools in Wisconsin and across the nation,” commented One Wisconsin Institute Executive Director Scot Ross. “And it seems there’s no limit to how much they will pay to try to get their way, spending over $108 million between 2005 and 2014 to buy the help of over 130 organizations.”

Key findings of the updated “P Is For Payoff” report include: 

  • Bradley Foundation head Michael Grebe, a political insider who chaired Gov. Walker’s presidential and gubernatorial campaigns, continues to orchestrate a massive propaganda campaign to advance the privatization of public education;
  • An analysis of IRS Form 990 records and Bradley Foundation reports reveals over 130 organizations supportive of their education privatization agenda and working to advance their cause have received over $108 million from 2005 through 2014;
  • Bradley’s tactics have continued to evolve, now featuring litigation to advance their privatization agenda and intimidate opponents. Leading the effort is the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty which since its inception in 2011 has been larded with over $2 million from Bradley;
  • According to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the voucher program will cost Wisconsin taxpayers over $1.1 billion from 2011 through the end of the 2015-17 budget cycle. Meanwhile, a new report found that Wisconsin schools have suffered the 4th biggest cuts in in the nation through 2014.

Original research by One Wisconsin Institute in 2013 first exposed the Bradley Foundation as a leading player in the campaign to gut public education and promote the unaccountable, radical privatization of K-12 education. The Milwaukee-based group spent millions to support organizations, think tanks, journalists and right-wing academics. They engaged in a campaign that manufactured a crisis, singled out their enemies, generated a cure, justified their scheme with pseudo-science, broadcast their message through the media, helped elect politicians to advance their agenda and kept them in line with high-powered lobbyists and well-funded pressure campaigns.

Ross concluded, “Wisconsin families and public schools are left paying the price as billions of dollars that could have been used for public education are siphoned off for the Bradley Foundation’s ideologically driven experiment. Until a majority of policy makers are willing to stand up to the Bradley Foundation’s millions, Wisconsin’s tradition of great public schools will remain under assault.”

Link to the original “P Is For Payoff” report

Link to the updated report

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One Wisconsin Institute is a non-partisan, progressive research and education organization dedicated to a Wisconsin with equal economic opportunity for all.
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