I promised my team that I'd use today's blog to suggest some holiday gift ideas from our online store, but last week was a doozy for our voucher school lawsuit and I think it's important to address the elephant (or more likely the donkey) in the room.
Our "original action," which means our attempt to ask Wisconsin's Supreme Court to step in and hear our lawsuit to end Wisconsin's parasitic private school voucher school system and bypass the normal process of working the lawsuit through the appellate system, wasn't supported by Wisconsin's Democratic establishment.
Yep, somehow our lawsuit managed to put Democratic Governor Tony Evers and his Republican nemesis, State Assembly leader Robin Vos, on the same side--and both against us.
That was a hard pill to swallow.
Seemingly many rank and file Democrats also wished they could "unsee" the vision of these two new bedfellows, because within 48 hours of learning that the Evers' administration wasn't supporting our case (and hearing a deafening silence from many other establishment Democrats/orgs), progressives started sending me a string of articles related to the harm being caused by vouchers. Here are some of the pictures that popped up on my phone.
In Sheboygan and Neenah, the local cost to taxpayers for their private school voucher systems increased by 35% and 44%, respectively, despite an increase in voucher state aid signed by Evers in the last budget. These increases are unsustainable by local taxpayers, meaning that public schools will soon see further decreases in funding while taxpayers are forced to shift that money to private schools.
In Texas, rural Republican legislators are standing up to Republican Governor Gregg Abbott and voting down vouchers because they know their local public school districts won't survive a parallel voucher program.
And finally, the Democratic legislature in Illinois figured out that voucher schools were doing damage to their public school system, so they decided to sunset their voucher programs.
Unfortunately in Wisconsin last week, we didn't see the same profiles of political courage that we saw in Texas and Illinois.
Why does it take courage to stand up to voucher schools?
Because the state is giving parents free money to send their kids to private schools when 73% of those same parents would have sent them to private schools anyways on their own dime. What parent WOULDN'T want to save tens of thousands of dollars to send their kid to the same Catholic school (95% of voucher schools are religious) that their parents sent them to a generation earlier?
The problem, and why it's so hard for politicians from both sides of the aisle to find their spines on this issue, is that it takes a hell of a lot longer to explain to parents that for every kid who takes a voucher to go to a private school, the funding goes away for many more kids who attend public schools.
At the end of the day, sunsetting the voucher program in Wisconsin will cause some short term pain for parents and their ~50K kids who are currently taking vouchers to attend private schools. Parents will either have to pay for their kids to attend private schools like they've historically always had to do in Wisconsin, or they will need to move their kids back into public schools, which have and will always be free to attend.
To me, it sounds like parents and their kids would still have a "school choice."
And is being forced to send our your kid back to a public school such an awful thing?
Of course not, especially since those public schools will get a windfall of funding (your tax dollars) back from private schools if our lawsuit is successful.
While I can only speculate on the politics that have lead a lot of institutional Democrats to put their heads in the sand on this issue, here is what I think is going on. And please, this is only my opinion of what's happening and not the opinion of anyone else helping to support this voucher lawsuit.
- Democrats know that the Wisconsin Supreme Court has to stick their necks out to finally put an end to gerrymandering in Wisconsin. They don't want this case to put too much pressure on them, especially since Boss Vos has repeatedly (and illegally) threatened to impeach Justice Janet Protasiewicz if she doesn't recuse herself from any case involving Fair Maps.
- Democrats are freaked out that Trump could still win Wisconsin in 2024, and think that if they are seen siding with us against voucher schools, they could lose votes from those parents who have enjoyed a free ride from the government to send their kids to private schools.
- Our aim at striking down local revenue limits, which is separate from voucher schools but is part of the same root to the problem of starving public education, blows the minds of establishment Democrats. They've been abused for so long by the likes of Scott Walker and Robin Vos that they simply can't imagine solving a big problem all at once, and instead are merely hoping for incremental gains.
- While we REALLY HOPE THIS IS NOT THE CASE, I can't help but speculate that the Minocqua Brewing Company has become a bit of a black sheep among establishment Democrats who would prefer we just went away. We don't need the blessing of any powerful Democrats nor do we need the blessing from institutions that typically support Democrats, because we ain't running for office. Our activism is funded entirely by grassroots readers like yourselves and the folks who buy our products. Is it possible that since we haven't scratched any backs, or have maybe bruised a few egos here and there, that the establishment isn't supporting us out of some useless need to show us how the political hierarchy is supposed to work? I'm guessing Bernie Sanders could probably weigh in on this issue.
I put this short 6 minute video at the top of this email for a reason.
I desperately want you to watch it because it is the culmination of over 10 weeks of radio shows that the Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC funded to examine every angle of Wisconsin's private school voucher system and identify ALL THE WAYS that school vouchers are bad for the vast majority of Wisconsin's kids.
In this video, we show expert upon expert laying out the case that our lawsuit is exactly what is needed to protect kids' educations in Wisconsin, regardless of what the politicians say.
It doesn't really matter to me (although it is quite irksome) that our lawsuit lacks the support of the Democratic establishment looking to shield itself from political fallout or unable to imagine how to accomplish big things. That's the wonder of our judicial system--our third branch of government--that in theory is supposed to be shielded from the political whims that so often melt the spines of the other two branches.
Our Supreme Court Justices are elected for 10 year terms, and we just elected a new one that finally changed the balance of that court, meaning that there is now a majority of justices who are no longer in the pockets of Trump, Vos, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, The Bradley Foundation, the Koch's Americans For Prosperity, Besty Devos' Americans Federation for Children, nor the nefarious Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty.
Our lawsuit is spot on, our lawyers are top notch, and we're fighting for a righteous cause--the education of our children. If there is true justice in Wisconsin that is above politics, the Supreme Court will take up our original action because it will rule fairly on the issues presented, rather than protect an unconstitutional program in the name of Republican politics.
Thanks for reading, and thanks for supporting the Minocqua Brewing Company and this righteous cause.
And please don't be mad when I send you a mass email tomorrow hawking our wares, because my team isn't happy that I just sent you yet another political email when we're supposed to be making hay during the holidays.
Owner, Minocqua Brewing Company
Founder, Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC