Time to Sue to Rid Wisconsin of Harmful School Voucher System

Time to Sue to Rid Wisconsin of Harmful School Voucher System

Hi Friends,

On this Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend, a time to remember our history and those American soldiers who died protecting our democracy, I want to make an announcement that I’ve been itching to make for a long time.

In order to protect the teaching of history to all our children so that we don’t forget why we celebrate Memorial Day, my team has decided to fight back against the attack on Wisconsin’s public schools that started when former Republican Governor Scott Walker took office in 2011 and continues today with a corrupt Republican legislature fully in the pockets of the for-profit education lobby.

The Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC is going to sue the Republican Legislature in Wisconsin to stop them from using school vouchers to bleed our public school system dry.

Here’s how we got to this point.

The MBC Super PAC determined that Wisconsin’s abortion ban, unfair gerrymandering, and laws that suffocated public education and punished teachers were the most important issues that could be fixed now that we have a new majority of law-minded, independent judges on the State Supreme Court.

Our Attorney General is already suing to overturn the abortion ban. We believed the progressive law firm Law Forward would be bringing a gerrymandering case to un-rig our legislative maps, but we didn’t know who was working to unscrew our public education system.

So we started talking to public education experts, especially the awesome folks at the Wisconsin Public Education Network (WPEN) and Wisconsin Public Education Action (WPEA), to determine what could be done.

According to them and some other experts we spoke with, there are three major issues that we have to address to get Wisconsin’s public education system back on track.

  1. Act 10, the law passed under Scott Walker that took away teachers’ ability to collectively bargain and drove so many into retirement or to other states, has to be overturned to attract and retain the quality teachers we want our kids to have.
  2. The current statewide school funding formula is outdated and rigged, leading to vast inequalities in educational outcomes depending on where you live in Wisconsin.
  3. The school voucher system, which siphons money out of the public school system and gives it to religious and private schools, not only hurts public schools but has been shown to actually hurt educational outcomes overall, especially for special needs kids and minorities.

We hope that the Wisconsin teacher’s union, WEAC, will be tackling ACT 10, because it’s right up their alley. If they do, we’ll cheer them on from the sidelines.

As for the school funding formula, our discussions have shown that this issue would be really tough to tackle in the courts alone, because if the Supreme Court forced the Republican legislature to come up with a new funding formula, Republicans would probably come up with another BAD formula because they want to hurt public education—thus a lot of effort and money spent on lawyers for a bad outcome.

So that’s why we’re going after the school voucher system. A win seems pretty clear-cut. If we can prove that school vouchers are unconstitutional, our Supreme Court will strike them down and stop your tax dollars from flowing out of public education, benefitting the vast majority of students across Wisconsin attending public schools. We’re hoping to continue to work with WPEA so they can guide us with their expertise and help build a coalition of other public education groups who understand that vouchers are ultimately bad for our kids.

Now, I said a WIN here seems pretty clear-cut, but the type of lawsuit that we need to bring that has a chance of winning is anything but clear-cut, and that’s why we need to create a strategy of what can win in court. Here are the issues we need to figure out.

  1. What law firm we need to hire that has the experience, intellect, and guts to win this thing.
  2. What area of Wisconsin law should we use to convince the court that voucher schools are unconstitutional? We’ve identified at least 6 different angles that we can take, and we need to spend time with our lawyers researching each one to better understand what will make the strongest case.
  3. Who will be the plaintiffs in this case? We need to figure out issues of standing, and whether the plaintiffs will be schools, school districts, taxpayers, or other groups we have yet to identify.
  4. Messaging strategy—how do we keep everyone updated with a unified message to combat the misinformation that will surely come from the right while at the same time herding all the cats that will be part of our education coalition?

There’s a lot going on here, as you can see, so what I’m proposing is that we raise $15K right now for a “Phase 0” project. This is like a project before the REAL project, to get our ducks lined up in a row. But for that “Phase 0,” we’re going to have to, at the very least, pay some lawyers answer these questions.

And this is where the Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC comes in.

We’ve raised over $1M since we started over two years ago, with over 23K donations averaging ~$44 per donation.

That’s about as grass roots as it gets, and people keep donating because we do what we say we’re going to do, and Wisconsin keeps getting more progressive as a result.

So even though I’m gonna ask you for a heck of a lot more money later when we figure out what kind of lawsuit we’re going to file, hopefully you can chip in now to raise $15K to get this first phase sorted out.

We believe this first “phase 0” will take a few months and we will be able to file a lawsuit sometime this fall, after our newest Supreme Court Justice, Janet Protasiewicz, is seated in August.

As many of you know, you can help the cause by simply buying our beer, wine, coffee, and t-shirts, because we donate a portion of those proceeds to our Super PAC, but of course to make your money go further, you can donate directly to the Super PAC here.

I think the next two years in Wisconsin, now that we have an honest and fair State Supreme Court, will be pivotal to getting our state back on track. But we need to keep focused and not just “expect someone else” to do this work. WE ARE THAT SOMEONE ELSE, because our Republican legislature is gerrymandered to remain corrupt, and our Democratic governor can't pass laws without the legislature. WE, the people of Wisconsin, ARE THAT SOMEONE ELSE that needs to sue our legislature to beat back the special interests that are trying to enrich themselves off of our tax dollars.

And WE ARE THAT "SOMEONE ELSE" that needs to step up to ensure ALL our kids can go to great public schools where they are properly taught U.S. history, so they understand WHY they should pay respect to our country's fallen soldiers tomorrow.

Thanks for reading and thanks for jumping into this fight with us.

Together, as weird as it feels typing this, we will “FIX WISCONSIN’S PUBLIC SCHOOLS, ONE BEER AT A TIME:)!”

Happy Memorial Day,

Kirk Bangstad
Owner, Minocqua Brewing Company
Founder, Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC

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