By Adam Tobias | Wisconsin Reporter
MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin taxpayers could be forced to spend tens of thousands of dollars to help fund a White Privilege Conference next month in downtown Madison.
Madison will pay $1,500 to co-sponsor the four-day event, which tries to attract teachers, university faculty, activists and high school and college students to “dismantle this system of white supremacy, white privilege and oppression.”
The taxpayer-supported Madison Area Technical College and University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire also are listed as co-sponsors.
UW-Eau Claire is paying a sponsorship fee of $2,000, according to university spokesman Michael Rindo.
MATC could not provide the amount of its contribution in time for this story, but Rindo says the different sponsorship levels are $1,500 to $3,000.
The organizer of the conference, the Matrix Center for the Advancement of Social Equity and Inclusion, also is set to receive $18,375 from the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center booking event assistance account.
The fund, which consists of hotel room tax revenue, is used to entice organizations to schedule gatherings at the local complex.
The total taxpayer responsibility could increase even further, however, depending on the number of teachers and school officials who use the opportunity for professional development.
Madison Concourse Hotel and Governor’s Club General Manager Stephen Zanoni, whose business is hosting several breakout sessions, is expecting close to 2,000 guests.
Registration fees for instructors and administrators range from $230 to $370, according to the conference website.
That payment does not include lodging, which can cost anywhere from $119 to $184 a night.
The annual dinner is an additional $40 to $50.
Added together, each administrator or faculty member who travels from out-of-town and stays for the entire conference could cost taxpayers more than $850.
The taxpayer expense for each teacher could be at least $690.
Substitutes would fill in for teachers who leave their classrooms. The daily rates for substitutes are set by each local school district, according to Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction spokesman Patrick Gasper.
Because the conference won’t be coming to Madison until the end of March, the DPI and several larger schools systems were unable to comment on their exact number of planned participants.
Katie Crawley, spokeswoman for Madison Mayor Paul Soglin, says some city staff will be attending, but she does not know the total amount. The registration fee for those staff members – who won’t be staying in hotels – is $175, according to Crawley.
Organizers have said the White Privilege Conference, which is in its 15th year, is built on the premise the United States was started by white people for white people.
WPC founder Eddie Moore Jr. told Minnesota’s MSR Online in 2011 he hopes the event will help people understand that “white supremacy, white privilege, racism and other forms of oppression are designed for your destruction — designed to kill you.”
An unnamed teacher featured in a video on the conference website says she is going to take what she learned back to her classroom so her students can start thinking about “how this is going to play itself out” at an earlier age.
The ideology of white privilege also has been found in guides promoted and approved by Common Core State Standards experts, according to an investigation by EAGnews.org.
“The Common Core standards, along with the aligned curriculum and the mining of nearly 400 data points reveal that the goal of the standards is not simply to improve academic achievement but also to instill federally determined attitudes and mindsets in students including political and religious beliefs,” the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition says in a report.
But the WPC’s website points out that the event is not designed to “attack, degrade or beat up on white folks” or “rally white supremacist groups.”
It’s intended to “examine challenging concepts of privilege and oppression and offers solutions and team building strategies to work toward a more equitable world,” the website says.
Contact Adam Tobias at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @Scoop_Tobias