School of Education News

Underwood commentary warns of threats to public schools

May 31, 2013

UW-Madison School of Education Dean Julie Underwood wrote an opinion piece for the May issue of Wisconsin School News.

Underwood's commentary is headlined, "School Boards Beware," and it highlights the efforts of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to negate the decision-making and leadership authority of each school board in Wisconsin and across the country.

Underwood concludes her column by writing: “The ALEC goal to eliminate school districts and school boards is a bit shocking — but the idea is to make every school, public and private, independent through vouchers for all students. By providing all funding to parents rather than school districts, there is no need for local coordination, control or oversight.

“Personally, I believe there is a purpose for public schools and the local public oversight necessary to support and guide them. Public education was created to serve the needs of the public — ensuring that every child had access to an education that would help him/her become an active citizen, capable of participating in our democratic process.

“What happens to our democracy when we return to an educational system where access is defined by corporate interest and divided by class, language, ability, race, and religion? In a push to a free market education do we lose the purpose of public education?”

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