Public-school advocates gather in La Crosse

    Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

    On Monday, August 5, parents, teachers, administrators and public-school experts and advocates from around the state will meet at La Crosse Central High School for the Wisconsin Public Education Network’s fifth annual Summer Summit. Gov. Tony Evers and Superintendent of Public Instruction Carolyn Stanford Taylor are scheduled to address the group in the morning, and panels throughout the day focused on the theme “What’s Best for Kids,” with sessions on school funding, working effectively with elected officials, racial disparities, community schools, privatization and the “teacher exodus.”

    The Wisconsin Public Education Network, a nonpartisan statewide coalition of public education advocates, lobbied elected officials around the state with its #VotePublic campaign, held meetings to advocate for a pro-public-education budget and led a march to the Capitol to demand fair funding.

    “Wisconsin elected a lifelong public educator to the office of governor,” the group states on its website, “and passed a budget that lifted a ten-year freeze on special education funding, but failed to close the funding gap and deliver on promises made by the Blue Ribbon Commission on school funding.”

    “We know we’ve helped changed the conversation, but we’re still waiting for a change in results.”

    With the fight over Wisconsin’s gerrymandered voting map and the recent lawsuit filed against Evers for his partial vetoes of the state budget in the news, the big question on education advocates’ minds is how to achieve a pro-public-school agenda given the political realities in the state, said conference organizer Heather DuBois Bourenane. 

    Ruth Conniff
    Ruth Conniff is Editor-in-chief of the Wisconsin Examiner. She formerly served as Editor-in-chief of The Progressive Magazine, and opened the Progressive’s office in Washington, DC, during the Clinton Administration, where she made her debut as a political pundit on CNN’s Capital Gang Sunday and Fox News. She moved to Oaxaca, Mexico, for a year in 2017, where she covered U.S./Mexico relations, the migrant caravan, and Mexico’s efforts to grapple with Donald Trump. Conniff is a frequent guest on All in with Chris Hayes on MSNBC and has appeared on Good Morning America, Democracy Now!, Wisconsin Public Radio, and other radio and television programs. In 2011, she did award-winning coverage of the uprising against Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin. She has also written for The Nation, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Los Angeles Times, among other publications. Conniff graduated from Yale University in 1990, where she ran track and edited the campus magazine The New Journal.

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