Target: Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker
Goal: Demand that Governor Walker end his attempts to defund the University of Wisconsin and to deceptively edit its mission statement
What is the “Wisconsin Idea,” you might ask? For the state’s residents it is a philosophy upholding the maximum public benefit over private profits. It has guided operations at the University of Wisconsin (UW) for more than one hundred years, arguing that the university’s purpose is to improve the lives of people across the state. Governor Scott Walker, notorious for his attack on public employee unions and for rejecting millions in Obamacare funds intended for his state, has now set his eye on weakening this respected institution.
In addition to slashing some $300 million from the UW budget, Walker also sought to drastically edit its mission statement. In his proposed budget bill key elements of the Wisconsin Idea were replaced by a directive to “meet the state’s workforce needs.” Also cut were phrases highlighting the importance of the “search for truth,” and upholding the university’s existence as being in the “public interest.”
The backlash against Governor Walker was intense and immediate. He was forced to reassure constituents the Wisconsin Idea would remain intact–but only after blaming the cuts on “miscommunication” and a “drafting error.” His defense feels insincere at best in light of screenshots from his 2015-2017 executive budget, which clearly show an intention to twist the UW’s mission.
Governor Walker continues to push a pro-business agenda at the cost of the public’s best interesst. Demand that he end his attack on public education once and for all.
Dear Governor Walker,
Residents of the great state of Wisconsin were shocked to learn $300 million would be cut from the UW budget. But even more distressing was your desire to edit the university’s mission, based in the Wisconsin Idea and promoting the public interest over corporate profits. While these may not be your personal priorities for you to casually disregard 100 years of history, and the values your constituents hold dear, is shameful.
Your scheme was exposed, and the public outrage which followed was understandable. Yet rather than apologize for your attempts to re-write the UW mission statement you dismissed it as a mere drafting error. The intentional nature of your attack has been widely acknowledged by the Center for Media and Democracy, PR Watch and by various local news outlets.
The public is on to you, Governor Walker. I must insist that you end your attack on the University of Wisconsin, whether it take the form of additional, brutal budget cuts or sneaky edits to its mission.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: James Steakly via Wikimedia Commons