State Policy Network—The “PR Firm” for ALEC and a Right-Wing Agenda

Submitted by Elaine Magliaro, Guest Blogger

A recent report published by the Center for Media and Democracy has alleged that there is a network of think tanks across this country that has been “quietly pushing the agenda of right-wing groups with funding from Koch brothers-affiliated organizations.” The umbrella organization that these sixty-four think tanks are collaborating with is called the State Policy Network (SPN)—“a nonprofit that nurtures conservative think tanks in all fifty states.”

From SPN’s website:

Founded in 1992 by Tom Roe at the urging of Ronald Reagan, State Policy Network is the only group in the country dedicated solely to improving the practical effectiveness of independent, non-profit, market-oriented, state-focused think tanks. SPN’s programs enable these organizations to better educate local citizens, policy makers and opinion leaders about market-oriented alternatives to state and local policy challenges.

According to the Center for Media and Democracy’s report, SPN and its “member think tanks” promote an “extreme right-wing agenda” that is much the same as that of “David Koch’s Americans for Prosperity, Charles Koch’s Cato Institute, and Koch’s Citizens for a Sound Economy spin-off FreedomWorks–all of which happen to be associate members of ALEC.”

Lisa Graves, the director of the Center for Media and Democracy, claimed that the individual think tanks that are members of the SPN network “present themselves as ‘neutral, non-partisan groups, but are in fact part of a national network to project the voices and interests of some of the most powerful corporations and families in the country.’” During a conference call with reporters, Graves said that “these groups are extraordinarily influential.”

Media Matters reported that SPN is an active member of ALEC—and added that thirty-four of its members “are directly linked back to ALEC.” It was also reported that all of the think tanks in SPN’s network “push parts of ALEC’s agenda in their respective states.” SPN has also been a sponsor of ALEC’s annual meeting for the last three years.

From Media Matters:

According to the Center for Media and Democracy, SPN groups have drafted model legislation attacking worker and environmental protections in several states, including Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Texas, and Washington. The Center notes that the Arizona-based SPN affiliate, The Goldwater Institute, has three model bills on its website attempting to attack the Affordable Care Act at the state level, while another would treat any gun control legislation at the federal level as the “equivalent of a federal crime.” John Loredo, former Minority Leader of the Arizona House of Representatives, described the Goldwater Institute as “corporate mercenaries who push their agenda at every level of government.”

The Guardian recently reported that Gordon Lafer, a professor at the University of Oregon, had done research on SPN and its affiliated groups. He found that they “were actively targeting the rights of often non-unionised employees.” Lafer said that his research “had uncovered attempts to expand the use of child labour, cut the minimum wage, reduce unemployment benefit, make it harder to sue employers for sex or race discrimination, or even to police wage theft where companies refused to pay workers over-time or any wages at all.”

At a gathering of GOP donors in San Francisco just days after President Obama had been re-elected, Grover Norquist told those in attendance that with the help of SPN Republican governors might be able to “turn their states into Texas or Hong Kong.” He added, “It’s a wonderful opportunity.”

In his article for The Nation titled The Right Leans In: Media-savvy conservative think tanks take aim and fire at progressive power bases in the states, Lee Fang wrote the following:.

These media-savvy organizations—which frequently employ former journalists to churn out position papers, news articles, investigations and social media content with a hard-right slant—bolster the pro-corporate lobbying efforts of the American Legislative Exchange Council.

Like ALEC, State Policy Network groups provide an ideological veil for big businesses seeking to advance radical deregulatory policy goals.

Lisa Graves was quoted by Politico as saying, “These aren’t just little think tanks that are doing nonpartisan research based on what’s happening in the state and really reflective of the culture of those states. These are a lot of groups that put together pretty cooked books on the issues they are peddling and have been criticized in state after state for how shoddy their research has been.”

Major Funders of SPN

The SPN network is said to have an annual “war chest” of more than $80 million, which comes from some well-known donors—including the Koch brothers, Philip Morris, Kraft Foods, GlaxoSmithKline, Facebook, Microsoft, AT&T, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon. Other major donors: Roe Foundation, Bradley Foundation, Castle Rock Foundation, Scaife Foundations, Walton Family Foundation, Art Pope, and Searle Freedom Trust.

The Center for Media and Democracy notes that “the largest known funder behind SPN and its member think tanks are two closely related funds — DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund.” Mother Jones published an article about Donors Trust last February. Andy Kroll, the author of the article, called Donors Trust “the dark-money ATM of the conservative movement.”

Kroll:

Founded in 1999, Donors Trust (and an affiliated group, Donors Capital Fund) has raised north of $500 million and doled out $400 million to more than 1,000 conservative and libertarian groups, according to Whitney Ball, the group’s CEO. Donors Trust allows wealthy contributors who want to donate millions to the most important causes on the right to do so anonymously, essentially scrubbing the identity of those underwriting conservative and libertarian organizations. Wisconsin’s 2011 assault on collective bargaining rights? Donors Trust helped fund that. ALEC, the conservative bill mill? Donors Trust supports it. The climate deniers at the Heartland Institute? They get Donors Trust money, too.

Donors Trust is not the source of the money it hands out. Some 200 right-of-center funders who’ve given at least $10,000 fill the group’s coffers. Charities bankrolled by Charles and David Koch, the DeVoses, and the Bradleys, among other conservative benefactors, have given to Donors Trust. And other recipients of Donors Trust money include the Heritage Foundation, Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, the NRA’s Freedom Action Foundation, the Cato Institute, the American Enterprise Institute, the Federalist Society, and the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, chaired (PDF) by none other than David Koch.

Media Mouthpiece for the Right-Wing Agenda

In February the Center for Public Integrity published an article by Paul Abowd titled Donors use charity to push free-market policies in states: Nonprofit group lets donors fly ‘totally under the radar’. Abowd reported that, in 2009, “a network of online media outlets began popping up in state capitals across the nation, each covering the news from a clearly conservative point of view. What wasn’t so clear was how they were funded.”

Michael Moroney, a spokesman for the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity—the think tank that created the outlets, said, “The source is 100 percent anonymous.” According to IRS records, 95% of the Franklin Center’s 2011 revenue came from Donors Trust.

In 2011, Sara Jerving (PR Watch) wrote about the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity’s “rushing to fill the gap” in 2009 as newsrooms across the country were cutting staff “due in part to slipping ad revenue and corporate media conglomeration.” At the time her article was published, the aforementioned network had “43 state news websites, with writers in over 40 states.” Jerving said the network’s reporters had “been given state house press credentials” and that its news articles were “starting to appear in mainstream print newspapers in each state.” Jerving added, “The websites all offer their content free to local press — many of the news bureaus send out their articles to state editors every day. The sites also offer free national stories that media can receive daily by subscribing.”

According to Jerving, the screening process for writers of these media outlets is not like that of other “journalistic outlets.” For example, she said the Wisconsin Reporter asked applicants “ideological questions.” She added that the Poynter Institute, a Florida-based school and resource for journalists, had reported that Wisconsin Reporter applicants were asked to answer questions such as the following: “How do free markets help the poor?” and “Do higher taxes lead to balanced budgets?”

Jerving wrote that the journalistic integrity of Franklin Center’s media sites had been called into question by media watchdog groups. She reported that “Laura McGann, assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University, wrote in a 2010 piece in the Washington Monthly, that the Franklin Center sites are engaging in distorted reporting across the country. As often as not, their reporting is thin and missing important context, which occasionally leads to gross distortions.” Jerving said that McGann pointed out several instances where the center’s “Watchdog websites wrote stories that turned out to be misleading or untrue.” McGann also said, “This sort of misleading reporting crops up on Watchdog sites often enough to suggest that, rather than isolated instances of sloppiness, it is part of a broad editorial strategy.”

Despite the kinds of misleading stories published by the Wisconsin Reporter, it has “gained traction in the state.” Jerving said that its stories “have been picked up by a host of local media outlets in the state, such as La Crosse Tribune, Eau Claire’s Leader Telegram, Wausau Daily Herald, Steven’s Point Journal, Chippewa Herald, and Beloit Daily News.”

Excerpt from the Center for Media and Democracy’s report:

SPN works in parallel with the American Legislative Exchange Council, Alec, a forum that brings together largely Republican legislators and corporations to devise model bills that are used to attack workers’ rights in various US states.

Some of SPN members’ destructive agenda items include:

  • Education: Defund and privatize public schools through voucher programs, charter school expansion, and giving tax credits to corporations that fund private schools
  • Healthcare: Block access to affordable healthcare by working against the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion
  • Workers’ Rights: Restrict workers’ collective bargaining rights by pushing anti-worker measures such as so-called “Right to Work” and paycheck deception, and undermine public workers’ negotiated retirement security by switching to risky defined-contribution pension plans
  • Energy & the Environment: Oppose renewable, clean energy sources, while promoting fossil fuels and advocating for the repeal of pollution restrictions and environmental protections
  • Taxes: Create a tax system that benefits those at the very top and lowers taxes on corporations, while pushing measures such as flat or supposedly “fair” tax programs that cost workers more in marginal dollars, or replacing the income tax with a higher sales tax, all of which disproportionately raise the relative tax rate on middle and working class families
  • Government Spending: Cut government spending on essential services and public programs
  • Wages & Income Equality: Oppose raising the minimum wage, and in some cases urge the repeal of minimum wage, living wage, and prevailing wage laws

NOTE: Thanks go to Gene Howington for introducing me to the State Policy Network via The Guardian article–and for suggesting that I might be interested in writing a post on the subject.

SOURCES

Facebook and Microsoft help fund rightwing lobby network, report finds: State Policy Network rejects climate change, opposes workers’ rights – and is backed by some top US tech and telecoms firms (The Guardian)

Meet The Little-Known Network Pushing Ideas For Kochs, ALEC (Huffington Post)

Something Stinks at the State Policy Network (Center for Media and Democracy)

SPN: The $83 Million Right-Wing Empire Helping to Hijack State Politics and Government (Sourcewatch)

State Policy Network (Right Wing Watch)

State Policy Network (SPN) – Koch Industries Climate Denial Front Group (Greenpeace)

Corporate Money in Network of Right-Wing State Policy Think Tanks (Nonprofit Quarterly)

Shadowy Right-Wing Group Generates Media Coverage For Conservative Policy From Coast To Coast (Media Matters)

The Right Leans In: Media-savvy conservative think tanks take aim and fire at progressive power bases in the states. (The Nation)

2009 The KOCH Cabal Launched Nationwide non-profit News Bureau: Franklin Center (Daily Kos)

Reports Expose Extreme Pressure Groups Masquerading as Think Tanks: Center for Media and Democracy and Progress Now Reports Show Expansive Reach Of State Policy Network (PRWatch)

Report: Think tanks tied to Kochs (Politico)

Exposed: The Dark-Money ATM of the Conservative Movement: You haven’t heard of Donors Trust, but it’s bankrolled the right’s fights against unions, public schools, climate scientists, and more. (Mother Jones)

Donors use charity to push free-market policies in states: Nonprofit group lets donors fly ‘totally under the radar’ (Center for Public Integrity)

Franklin Center: Right-Wing Funds State News Source (Truth-Out)

The Koch brothers’ media investment [UPDATED] (Columbia Journalism Review)

80 thoughts on “State Policy Network—The “PR Firm” for ALEC and a Right-Wing Agenda”

  1. Lisa Graves on “Democracy Now!” this morning:

    http://www.democracynow.org/2013/12/11/alecs_institutional_corruption_from_backing_apartheid

    “The secretive American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has just ended a week-long meeting in Washington where corporate lobbyists worked with state lawmakers on model bills that will later be introduced in states nationwide. ALEC has reportedly drafted a number of new bills designed to prevent President Obama from cutting emissions, and to weaken state policies promoting clean energy. Now conservative groups across the United States are apparently planning a coordinated effort in six states to raise money for attacks on public sector rights and services in the key areas of education, healthcare, income tax, and workers’ compensation. The proposals were coordinated by the ALEC-backed State Policy Network, an alliance of groups that act as incubators of conservative strategy at the state level. ALEC is struggling to re-enlist donors after an exodus prompted by its backing of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law. According to The Guardian, ALEC has lost nearly 400 state legislators from its network over the past two years and more than 60 major corporate donors. We discuss ALEC’s latest efforts, along with its historic opposition to divestment campaigns from apartheid South Africa, with Lisa Graves of the Center for Media and Democracy. Please check back later for full transcript.”

  2. DonorsTrust—the Right’s Dark-Money ATM—Pumps Out Record $96 Million
    A big winner of last year’s conservative cash bonanza? Right-wing “journalism.”
    —By Andy Kroll
    | Tue Dec. 3, 2013
    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/12/donors-trust-franklin-center-alec-mercatus-center-dark-money

    Excerpt:
    DonorsTrust is the conservative movement’s little-known but hugely influential cash machine, a conduit for millions of dollars in anonymous donations to anti-union legal shops, climate change deniers, pro-life advocates, libertarian think tanks, media watchdog groups, and a panoply of other right-leaning causes. Wealthy conservatives use DonorsTrust as a surefire way to invest their money, fingerprint-free, with the assurance it will end up in the right hands. According to new tax filings obtained by Mother Jones, DonorsTrust is growing increasingly popular among the bankrollers of the conservative movement.

    Last year, DonorsTrust (and its sister group, Donors Capital Fund) doled out a record $96 million, making it one of the largest honeypots for right-leaning groups. That’s an increase from $85 million in 2011 and $78 million in 2010. DonorsTrust CEO Whitney Ball, who cofounded the group in 1999 and sometimes appears at the Koch brothers’ donor summits, says the increased giving stems from her organization’s growing profile and also conservative donors’ anger at the Obama administration. And despite worries about donor burnout within the conservative ranks, Ball says DonorsTrust is on track for another great year in 2013.

    One of the biggest winners to emerge from the hundreds of pages of DonorsTrust tax documents is the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, a Virginia-based nonprofit that trains conservative and libertarian think tanks to do investigative journalism, funds right-leaning news outlets, and hires reporters for those outlets. The Franklin Center received $9.2 million from DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund, which accounted for nearly $8 of every $10 in grant money received by the Franklin Center in 2012. (The Franklin Center did not respond to multiple requests for comment.)

    As local media coverage of state politics has dwindled, the Franklin Center—led by a former executive director of the North Dakota Republican Party—has tried to fill the void. Launched in 2009, the Franklin Center brags that it now provides 10 percent of all daily news reporting in 38 states across the country. (Franklin Center affiliates such as MarylandReporter.com, Missouri News Horizon, Texas Watchdog, and TNReport, among others, also received DonorsTrust money of their own.) Franklin Center affiliates cast themselves as “watchdogs” sniffing out government waste and corruption. Gene Gibbons, a former White House correspondent for Reuters, labeled (PDF) Franklin-backed outlets “journalism with an asterisk” that are potentially “trying to sway public opinion or promote a political agenda with deceptive means.”

  3. Elaine, I find no fault with guest bloggers – they most always write on important topics. And I certainly appreciate your concentration on education and labor. My question is directed at Mr. Turley and what I see as his lack of interest regarding the policys and the successes of the right – choice, voting rights, labor. They are so much more important than a woman with 400 arrests or another instance of cops gone wild. The GBs are certainly up to contributing some very important and interesting writing on these topics, but I am also interested in Turley’s ideas on these issues.

  4. pdm,

    I have written a number of posts about what was going on in Wisconsin…as well as in the state of Michigan and Pennsylvania. There are many issues of concern that Jonathan and the guest bloggers have addressed. It’s difficult trying to cover them all.

  5. Elaine (a little OT)
    I just read a comment over at Charlie’s. The writer is from Seattle and says opinion is AGAINST the machinists turning down the Boeing contract. We are well and truly phu*ked.

    Why doesn’t Turley write about something like this? Or Choice going down the tubes thanks to the latest from the Supremes? Or voter supression in Wisconsin? Or investigations into campaign funding during the Walker recall? We get it about the militarization of the police. It’s time to focus on some other issues.

  6. November 15, 2013
    Is IKEA the New Model for the Conservative Movement?
    Posted by Jane Mayer
    http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2013/11/is-ikea-the-new-model-for-the-conservative-movement.html

    Excerpt:
    In every state in the country, there is at least one ostensibly independent “free-market” think tank that is part of something called the State Policy Network— there are sixty-four in all, ranging from the Pelican Institute, in Louisiana, to the Freedom Foundation, in Washington State. According to a new investigative report by the Center for Media and Democracy, a liberal watchdog group, however, the think tanks are less free actors than a coördinated collection of corporate front groups—branch stores, so to speak—funded and steered by cash from undisclosed conservative and corporate players. Although the think tanks have largely operated under the radar, the cumulative enterprise is impressively large, according to the report. In 2011, the network funnelled seventy-nine million dollars into promoting conservative policies at the state level.

    Tracie Sharp, the president of the S.P.N., promptly dismissed the report as “baseless allegations.” She told Politico, “There is no governing organization dictating what free market think tanks research or how they educate the public about good public policy.”

    But notes provided to The New Yorker on what was said during the S.P.N.’s recent twenty-first-annual meeting raise doubts about Sharp’s insistence that each of the think tanks is, as she told me, “fiercely independent.” The notes show that, behind closed doors, meeting with some eight hundred people from the affiliated state think tanks, Sharp compared the organization’s model to that of the giant global chain IKEA.

    At the annual meeting, which took place in Oklahoma City this past September 24th through 27th, Sharp explained what she called The IKEA Model. She said that it starts with what she described as a “catalogue” showing “what success would look like.” Instead of pictures of furniture arranged in rooms, she said, S.P.N.’s catalogue displays visions of state policy projects that align with the group’s agenda. That agenda includes opposing President Obama’s health-care program and climate-change regulations, reducing union protections and minimum wages, cutting taxes and business regulations, tightening voting restrictions, and privatizing education. “The success we show is you guys,” she told the assembled state members. “Here’s how we win in your state.”

    Sharp went on to say that, like IKEA, the central organization would provide “the raw materials,” along with the “services” needed to assemble the products. Rather than acting like passive customers who buy finished products, she wanted each state group to show the enterprise and creativity needed to assemble the parts in their home states. “Pick what you need,” she said, “and customize it for what works best for you.”

    During the meeting, Sharp also acknowledged privately to the members that the organization’s often anonymous donors frequently shape the agenda. “The grants are driven by donor intent,” she told the gathered think-tank heads. She added that, often, “the donors have a very specific idea of what they want to happen.” She said that the donors also sometimes determined in which states their money would be spent.

  7. rafflaw,

    Think of all the good they could do with their billions. Instead…they work against the common folk to advance their own selfish agenda.

  8. State Policy Network: The Straw That Stirs the Conservative Movement
    BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
    11/19/13
    http://www.truth-out.org/buzzflash/commentary/item/18322-state-policy-network-conservative-movement

    Excerpt:
    What began as an offhanded suggestion by Ronald Reagan to Thomas Roe (a member of his “kitchen cabinet”) in the 1980s, has evolved into an army of at least 63 state-based groups pushing conservative public policy issues as members of the powerful and well-coordinated State Policy Network (SPN).

    Although many of the groups involved claim to be non-partisan and independent, an investigation by the watchdog group, the Madison, Wisconsin-based Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) has found “that SPN and its member think tanks are major drivers of the right-wing, ALEC-backed agenda in state houses nationwide, with deep ties to the Koch brothers and the national right-wing network of funders, all while reporting little or no lobbying activities.”

    In September, the Arlington, Virginia-based State Policy Network held its 21st annual meeting in Oklahoma City. According to CMD’s report EXPOSED: The State Policy Network — The Powerful Right-Wing Network Helping to Hijack State Politics and Government, the meeting “featured a legislative agenda that included privatizing and profitizing schools, attacking the pensions negotiated for public workers, limiting the ability of states to tax, ending collective bargaining rights of workers, cutting federal spending out of state budgets, and thwarting the Affordable Care Act.”

    As might be expected the Koch Brothers have their imprint writ large over the SPN: The September event was attended by “representatives from Koch Industries, the Charles Koch Institute, and Charles Koch Foundation, and other the Koch-funded groups such as David Koch’s Americans for Prosperity, Generation Opportunity, and the Association for American Innovation, which is now called ‘Freedom Partners’ and is funded to an unknown extent by the fortunes of the billionaire Koch brothers, housed in the same building as other Koch front groups, staffed by Koch operatives, and stacked with a board full of Koch insiders.”

  9. Think Tanks Push ALEC to Go After Unions
    At a closed-door ALEC meeting, Koch-funded policy shops unveil new restrictions on public-sector unions.
    —By Paul Abowd
    Fri May. 18, 2012
    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/05/alec-unions-think-tanks

    Excerpt:
    Much of the recent controversy surrounding the American Legislative Exchange Council has focused upon the way it brings together its key members, major corporations and state legislators, to craft legislation behind closed doors. Largely unnoticed has been the influence wielded by a third group of ALEC members: think tanks.

    Two of those state-level think tanks took center stage at last weekend’s ALEC Task Force Summit in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Arizona-based Goldwater Institute and the Michigan-based Mackinac Center for Public Policy successfully shepherded five model bills through ALEC’s Commerce, Insurance, and Economic Development Task Force—all targeting public-sector unions.

    Goldwater representative Byron Schlomach introduced two bills, one requiring that public employees annually approve their employer’s automatic deduction of union dues from paychecks. Another would prohibit union officials from taking paid leave from public-sector jobs to perform union duties.

    The Mackinac Center sent labor policy analyst Paul Kersey to introduce three more bills targeting unions. One of those model bills is already Michigan law, requiring public-sector unions to make public audits of their financial activities. Another Mackinac proposal would require public-sector union members to vote on their union membership every three to five years, and a third would make it easier for public and private employees to decertify their unions.

    Members of the ALEC’s commerce task force confirmed that the five union bills were approved in Charlotte. Amid heightened scrutiny, ALEC restricted press access and shortened the summit to one day. ALEC did not return calls requesting information.

    The think tanks’ bills will become model legislation if the group’s board of directors does not initiate a formal review of the bills within 30 days. ALEC will then likely encourage its member legislators to introduce the model bills back in their home states. Since its founding in 1973, ALEC has successfully pushed hundreds of laws at the state level. According to the its website, every year legislators introduce nearly 1,000 bills based on ALEC model legislation, and 20 percent of them become law.

    Dozens of state-based think tanks, many of them part of a Heritage Foundation-affiliated umbrella group called the State Policy Network, have long held sway within ALEC. “A very large proportion of the bills are sponsored by these think tanks,” says Nick Surgey, a legal associate at Common Cause, which claims ALEC is actually a lobbying group and is violating its nonprofit status. “But behind that next layer is another set of unknowns about who is pushing the think tanks’ agenda.”

  10. Wisconsin Ensnared in $83 Million National Propaganda and Privatization Web Spun by Radical Right-Wing Funders
    One Wisconsin Now Report Reveals State and National Dark Money Forces Behind Education Privatization Campaign
    11/13/13
    http://www.onewisconsinnow.org/press/wisconsin-ensnared-in-83-million-national-propaganda-and-privatization-web-spun-by-radical-right-win.html

    Excerpt:
    MADISON, WI — “S is For Shill,” a new report from One Wisconsin Now, in association with the Progress Now network and the Center for Media and Democracy, exposes a web of right-wing funders advancing a radical privatization agenda through the use of Wisconsin-based front groups. In addition to support from the Milwaukee-based Bradley Foundation, headed by Gov. Walker’s campaign co-chair Michael Grebe, innocuously named groups like the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute (WPRI) and the MacIver Institute are part of the larger State Policy Network (SPN), a right-wing, dark money funded pro-privatization propaganda effort.

    One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross commented, “These Wisconsin groups pass themselves off as home grown research organizations commenting on the issues of the day, but in reality they are strands in a much larger right-wing web of money and organizations dedicated to advancing the agenda of multi-national corporations and billionaire ideologues.”

    Among the key findings of the Wisconsin report, “S is for Shill”:

    – MacIver and the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute benefit financially from the nation’s pre-eminent anti-public education funding sources;

    – On the boards of directors of both organizations are long-time established Republican donors and political operatives;

    – While the Bradley Foundation provides substantial support to both groups, they are part of a coordinated, nationwide effort by the State Policy Network and the American Legislative Exchange Council to advance anti-public education propaganda and promote privatization.

    The results of the WPRI/MacIver campaign have proven extraordinarily deleterious for public education in Wisconsin. Public schools were subject to the largest cuts in state history in Gov. Walker’s 2011 state budget. These cuts were followed in the 2013 budget by a massive, statewide expansion of the private school voucher program. Based on data from the state Department of Public Instruction, 73% of students receiving a taxpayer funded voucher this year via the expanded program were already attending a private school last year.

  11. Blouise and Gene,
    I don’t think they every memorialized anything in my name at my catholic grade school. And since it is now closed, any evidence is long gone! Some of the good Benedictine Sisters taught at my wife’s high school and I think I frightened them when I came to pick her up or visit at her school!
    Lotta,
    Some days in grade school I was a victim of the zombie nuns coming at me with yard sticks and hardwood pointers!

  12. Elaine,

    Annie wants the Almond Tort recipe. I will be getting it out for Thanksgiving but told her I’d mention it to you in case you can get to it sooner. (I have my granddaughter for the next four days)

    I told her to keep checking this thread

    Thanks

  13. Raf and the sisters: As a horror fan, and one that will tolerate some low quality horror vids, it has always amazed me that a horror/supernatural themed movie set in a crumbling Catholic school populated by ghost or un-dead sisters wielding rulers has not as yet been done. I wait patiently for the glorious day it is made and released direct-to-DVD. 🙂

    [American Horror Story series II does not count; that was an Asylum.]

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