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Podesta email shows Wisconsin Dems getting advice on school choice

By   /   October 26, 2016  /   News  /   No Comments

MILWAUKEE- An email uncovered by anti-secrecy group Wikileaks reveals the national Democratic Party’s advice to Wisconsin Dems on how to handle the school choice issue.

A 2008 state-by-state polling research memo from the Democratic consulting firm The Atlas Project cautioned Democrats there was strong support for the school choice issue in the African American community in Wisconsin.

“Many community leaders and African American ministers and pastors strongly support continuing this program. This issue has given Republicans an opening to address African American congregations in the past two elections,” the memo said. “There are a lot of politics surrounding the issues of voucher schools; many of the schools generate tremendous revenue for the corresponding churches, and local pastors view their ability to provide a safe and quality learning environment as paramount over other concerns.”

The memo also said that mishandling the school choice issue could actually hurt Democrats in the African American community.

“Although it has not yet cost Democrats votes, it is extremely important for Democrats to handle their politics and message on this issue very carefully,” the memo advised. “It may and likely will cause them a few headaches, and it will require a little handholding and an examination of the magnitude of the problem facing parents who want their children to get a good education in the city of Milwaukee.”

Photo by Wikileaks

CHOICE EMAIL A Leaked memo on Wisconsin school choice from the so-called ‘Podesta emails’ shows Wisconsin Democrats getting advice on how to handle the popularity of Wisconsin’s school choice program.

The email from Tom Matzzie, the former Washington Director of MoveOn.org Political Action, is one of the “Podesta emails” believed to be taken in a computer hack of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign chairman John Podesta’s personal email account. According to the Associated Press, Wikileaks has released 31,000 of Podesta’s emails dating to 2008 as of Tuesday. The FBI is investigating who is responsible for breaking into Podesta’s email account, but Democrats and U.S. intelligence are pointing to the Russian government.

Brandon Weathersby, communications director of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, did not respond to Wisconsin Watchdog’s email request for comment.

Despite the warning in the polling memo, Wisconsin Democrats continue to attack school choice programs, falsely claiming that more money is spent on private school choice vouchers per student than on students in public schools. The voucher amount for the state’s three school choice programs is $7,210 for kindergarten through eighth grade, and $7,856 per pupil in high school. Actual spending per pupil in the state’s public schools is $13,031 when all funding sources are included.

SEE RELATED: Report shows Democrats ignore key data in school funding debate

Wisconsin Republicans attacked the hypocrisy of the polling memo.

“Democrats, led by Hillary Clinton and Russ Feingold, continue to defend a backward approach to education, turning their backs on common-sense reform such as school choice,” said Wisconsin Republican Party spokesman Pat Garrett in an email. “Once again, Democrats are on the wrong side of this issue and on the wrong side of Wisconsin’s families.”

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James Wigderson is a Wisconsin-based reporter for Watchdog. He is also an online contributor to MacIver Institute and RightWisconsin, blogs at the Wigderson Library and Pub, and was formerly an award-winning local columnist for the Waukesha Freeman. James is a member of Investigative Reporters and Editors. He lives in Waukesha, WI, with his wife Doreen and their children.