Wisconsin is a good place to live and work. We want to keep it that way for our children and grandchildren. This quality of life relies on a network of effective public structures — schools, roads, bridges, the legal system, fire protection, health, sanitation, parks, culture, social services and public safety. These public structures are threatened by budget cuts and policies designed to reduce the scope of state and local government. IWF works with organizations and individuals statewide to inform and mobilize citizens in defense of the public sector services and infrastructure vital for family well-being and business success.
IWF organizing has three goals:
Build popular awareness of and appreciation for the innumerable public structures that people depend on but often take for granted.
Increase community awareness of the direct link between tax policy and the quality of public structures.
Involve groups in local and state coalitions to press for adequate financial support of public structures as well as accountability for optimum performance by these structures.
IWF training: How to talk about government and taxes
A part of community organizing is training leaders to talk about issues that affect people’s lives and one of the big issues is securing more revenue for state and local programs. On February 24, 2012 three IWF staffers worked with 25 women candidates for public office on “How to talk about government and taxes.” In the photo above, Gina Palazzari does radio interview role playing with one group of the future candidates. The participants are in EMERGE – a comprehensive program for women interested in running for public office. IWF has done the tax issue training for EMERGE since 2009.
Alliance for Strong Communities in Eau Claire views "The Flaw"
The Alliance for Strong Communities in Eau Claire Wisconsin filled the ballroom at the Plaza Hotel with over 150 people to watch a documentary titled, The Flaw.
The Flaw is a close look at America's economy collapse in 2007-2008-- how it happened, why it happened and who was responsible. The documentary shows how the housing bubble, broad-based and longstanding personal debt as well as investment banker greed combined to bring the financial sector to its knees. The movie also shows the impact of this collapse on ordinary Americans. The Eau Claire audience discussed the movie after the showing and talked about ways regulation could prevent this kind of catastrophe in the future. Participants also expressed an interest in more informational resources during 2012.
Wisconsin was well represented at national OTL conference in D.C.
Wisconsin and the Midwest were well represented at the 2011 National Opportunity to Learn Education Summit in early December in Washington, D.C. Efforts in the Badger State are part of the countrywide effort coordinated by the Schott Foundation, a non-profit pro-public education headquartered in Cambridge, MA.
December’s event, “United Communities for Education Justice and Action,” was an exciting gathering of grassroots advocates, philanthropic partners, policymakers, youth organizers, national organizations and researchers committed to closing the opportunity gap. Those attending shared advocacy and policy strategies and strengthened networks to build a state and national movement for change, including OTL Wisconsin and OTL Midwest.
And Education Town Hall began the three-day event. Included on the panel were Rev. Jesse Jackson, found and president of the Rainbow Push Coalition, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, and Dr. John Jackson, president and CEO of the Schott Foundation for Public Education.
Discussion centered on whether or not opportunities to learn in quality public schools are a moral imperative.
The remainder of the conference was a mix of panels, speakers, and break-out sessions. Diane Ravitch, author and education reform activist, highlighted one session. The one-time architect of No Child Left Behind explained how she broke with idea that more testing actually means more learning and came to be an advocate for opportunities to learn. Children come to school from various places and positions, she said, including from poverty. It is the school’s job to give them the opportunities the need to overcome those challenges.
Also on the agenda were break-out sessions on strengthening educational opportunities in rural communities, building youth power to reclaim their own education, engaging communities to improve schools, and messaging and strategy tools to build an opportunity to learn movement.
Wisconsin had a large contingent at the OTL summit in Washington. While a great event, it was, however, only a start to what needs to be accomplished back home. That’s why the March 24 event in Stevens Point is so important. If you agree that public schools need resources so that they can give all children the opportunities they need to learn then you want to attend the “Building A Movement Kick-off.” Click here for more information.
Opportunity to Learn Community Organizer Training
October 2011 --IWF coordinated a weekend community organizing training session in October 2011 with 35 activists from Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa and Michigan. The training was conducted in Racine WI by senior organizers from the Gamaliel Foundation -- an Alinsky style organizing group based in Chicago, Illinois. The goal of the training was to prepare activists for organizing campaigns that support public education. This effort is a part of the newly formed Opportunity to Learn initiative -- a national effort to secure resources that give all children the chance to succeed educationally. For more information go to Opportunity to Learn campaign page.