Wisconsin is full of Concerned Citizens these days - according to Governor Scott Walker's office, at least.
I've been in communication with one such Concerned Citizen who is hopping mad about a form letter from Walker's office, addressed (as was only appropriate, right?) to "Dear Concerned Citizen." This Concerned Citizen had written to Gov. Walker back in February to strongly object to rumors that a special needs voucher program was under consideration for getting rolled into the state budget. Please DON'T put the special needs vouchers in the budget, this Concerned Citizen had written. The vouchers don't belong there, it's policy not budgetary, and it's terrible policy at that. If you must legislate, introduce it separately, let Wisconsin have a statewide debate and a separate public hearing on this!
The Office of the Governor was silent. The budget appeared, and lo & behold, the special needs vouchers were there, almost as ugly as they were when they were introduced in their original ALEC model bill form in 2011. (See page 24-25 in ALEC Exposed Wisconsin: The Hijacking of a State.) Still a blatant privatization of public schools, still a profiteer cash-grab for taxpayer dollars.
Two more weeks of silence -- and then, all of a sudden, Concerned Citizen received an email.
Oh, fudge! I spilled my bottle of Orange Crush. Please walk around it or jump over it to read the email.
OK, enjoy the rest of this diary while I go get a mop....
Dear Concerned Citizen:My Concerned Citizen contact was appalled at the blatant disregard for the content of the previous communication, even more so upon hearing that when others had gotten the same demeaning form letter, and had written back to say, "No, no, no, that's not at ALL what I said! The special needs vouchers don't belong in the budget, take them OUT!" - they had received yet another copy of the form-insult.
Thank you for your interest in a proposed scholarship for Wisconsin children with special needs. I believe it is vital to offer as many choices as possible to parents to ensure their children receive the education that is right for them. Respecting the choice of parents of our state's most vulnerable students must also be a top priority.
Each special needs student has unique needs and I believe the best judges of each child's individual needs are their parents. This scholarship would give the parents of children with additional needs greater flexibility in choosing a set of services for their child. The best choice, in almost all cases, will be a traditional public school. However, in other cases, some parents may feel a different setting is right for their child. No matter a parent's choice, a child deserves the best possible educational environment, no matter the neighborhood they live in or how wealthy their parents are.
For these reasons, I am proud to say the Wisconsin Special Needs Scholarship will be included in my 2013 – 15 Biennial Budget, which I hope will begin a legacy of dedication from Wisconsin Governors to special needs students. I thank you for your interest in this issue, and I look forward to your continued support of students with special needs in Wisconsin.
Governor Scott Walker
Ah, but here's what blew Concerned Citizen's irony meter beyond repair, leaving a wake of choking upon acrid fumes.
Look at the graphic header of the letter below. Look at the circled text that appears right above the "Dear Concerned Citizen" in this defense of the education-profiteer cash grab.
A Citizen of Wisconsin has ample reason for Concern these days, ya think?
Good thing we got lotsa mops. A little hard work never hurt anyone. And speaking of endurance, today is the two year anniversary of the Solidarity Sing Along, Wisconsin's infamous singing protest that has happened at the Wisconsin Capitol every weekday noon-hour since March 11, 2011. We had a great party on Saturday to celebrate. We sing for peace, justice, and fairness, but we also sing for each other. It helps us stay optimistic as we head back into our little, messy corners of Wisconsin, mops in hand to clean up so many messes Scott Walker has left in his wake. Here's our facebook page if you want to Like us and send a message of congratulations.