Republicans’ Latest Power Grab: Appoint Superintendent of Public Instruction Instead of Allowing Voters to Elect Education Chief

GOP Seeks to Serve Education Privatization Instead of Public and Public Schools

MADISON, Wis. — In yet another power grab, state legislative Republicans today are proposing to take away the selection of the state Superintendent of Public Instruction from voters. According to a proposal released by Republican State Representative Joe Sanfelippo today, the Wisconsin Constitution would be amended to make the state Department of Public Instruction an appointee of the Governor instead of being elected on a statewide basis.

“Having failed to win at the ballot box or in the courts these power hungry Republicans now want to change the Wisconsin Constitution to get their way,” commented One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross. “Putting more power in the hands of the gang that cut public education by record amounts and will dole out in excess of $1 billion to unaccountable private voucher schools will only further hurt our public schools and children.”

In 2011, along with adopting the largest cuts to public education in state history, Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican legislature attempted to give themselves veto power over administrative rules developed by the Department of Public Instruction, overseen by a state constitutional officer selected in a statewide election. Earlier this year a state appeals court unanimously upheld a lower court ruling declaring the GOP sponsored power grab unconstitutional.

Ross noted that research by One Wisconsin Now has revealed the massive investment of education privatization forces in propaganda and electing Republican legislators willing to advance their agenda at the expense of public education.

The Bradley Foundation, headed by Gov. Walker’s gubernatorial and now presidential campaign chair, has underwritten a $31 million plus school privatization propaganda campaign to undermine public education and promote the expansion of unaccountable voucher schools.

Campaign finance filings show regular, large donations from voucher backers to key elected officials and massive outside spending by the American Federation for Children, run by disgraced former Assembly Republican Speaker Scott Jensen, to elect legislators favorable to the education privatization industry. The group has spent massively to pack the Assembly with legislators amenable to pouring more taxpayer dollars into the program without demanding more accountability, including expenditures of at least $850,000 on 20 targeted seats in 2014 and over $2.3 million in 2011 and 2012.

He concluded, “Stripping the public of their voice in selecting the Superintendent of Public Instruction is another example of how when it comes to public schools state Republicans are serving the privatization cartel that underwrites their campaigns instead of the best interests of our children and public schools.”

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