LETTER REGARDING WAUSAU SCHOOL REFERENDUM
Editor’s note: The following letter submitted to Middle Wisconsin concerns the upcoming November 3rd Wausau School District referendum and the adverse impact it may have on students and families. The letter reflects statements Mr. Grau made at a recent School Board meeting upon learning the Task Force that made the decisions regarding the actions proposed in the referendum was apparently not required to be transparent, keep meeting minutes, or seek public input. The parent’s of the families being affected were apparently not consulted. Mr Grau’s letter is expressing concern with the process by which decisions were made that affect the people of Wausau without adequate public input.
I am a Wausau citizen and member of the Unitarian Universalist Multiracial Unity Action Council and the Poor People’s Campaign.
I want to speak briefly about the need for equitable representation and for active engagement with the working people of Wausau.
We have before us in November a ballot item to decide yea/ and/or/nay on a two part Referendum affecting 8,000 students and their families, most of whom are working class people.
Yet, this multi-million dollar , primarily worker -funded recommendation, was developed by a secretive group of people through a process not even known to School Board members. A Board member has confirmed with me that they still don’t know who was even on the Task Force for this. They can find no minutes of their meetings.
This behind closed door proposal will totally disrupt a vital presence of Community and support for the most multiracial and income-challenged families in the City. Yet, they were not asked about it.
Sad to say, this has become the established status quo, and it is hurtful.
In a City that ranks 383rd in income in the State, they were not asked.
Where poverty rates for every racial group, including whites, significantly exceed those of Milwaukee, they were not asked.
Where single women with children under 5 , soon to be Public-schooled, of whom over 75% live in poverty, they were not asked.
These are all working class people.
And this is taxation without representation, at the least.
Top down decision making is business as usual and maintains the status quo. This perpetually hurts those affected most.
The new Poor Peoples Campaign is a national multiracial grassroots organization of tens of thousands. The New PPC has taken the baton from MLK’s PPC, stating our current social and economic model is immorally balanced toward the rich and powerful at the expense of the poor and working class majority, kept divided by race, gender and ethnicity.
3 of our 4 basic foundational principles include:
1. When you lift from the bottom , everyone rises;
2. Everyone must be in, NOBODY out;
3. Those most impacted should be actively engaged and lead in decisions affecting their Community
If you, members of the WSB agree with these principles
Then you will break completely with business as usual.
1. You will seek active engagement with working people through Town Halls at Churches, Community Centers, Areas where working people gather, even if Virtual and socially distanced. This is being successfully implemented in Districts 3 and 10 in our City. Conduct door to door canvassing in a safe manner. Surveys, petitions, and video pronouncements look good but lead to minimal engagement and representation by the majority. This is an ongoing mass campaign.
2. You will implement a Policy of total transparency, as some on the SB have already called for. Do your due diligence and investigate how this undercover Task Force originated.
3. You will develop a Policy of equity for working people of Wausau that states NO final decisions on major issues until all attempts of engagement with the working class families of our 8,000 students have been exhausted.
Lastly ,I support the safety of virtual schools as long as support is given to parents that address the subsequent hardships. Retired teachers may provide a source of such support.
In closing, equity for working people through active engagement, due diligence, and transparency. That is what will heal the hurtful effects of these recent events.
Thank you for your time and sincere consideration.