By Kyle Olson
MADISON – Government transparency is a critical tool in the public’s accountability arsenal, so long as the public can afford it.
But when dealing with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI), transparency comes with a five-figure price tag.
EAGnews has been conducting an investigation into a “cultural sensitivity” teacher training program the department has been doing for the last few years.
There is a clear link between the department’s “CREATE Wisconsin” initiative and the nutty, left-wing San Francisco-based Pacific Educational Group. PEG recently made headlines when its training urged school employees to downplay American cultural staples like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, because they don’t reflect multiculturalism and some students may not be able to relate to them.
PEG’s founder, Glenn Singleton, who can only be described as a cultural Marxist, has led some of the CREATE Wisconsin training sessions himself.
The Portland, Oregon school district shelled out $526,901 in one school year to PEG, so the link to DPI piqued our interest. If a single district shelled out more than a half a million dollars to this bizarre outfit, what would a statewide contract cost Wisconsin taxpayers?
We tried to find out.
Several weeks ago we submitted a freedom of information request to DPI, seeking records and training materials from the program since its inception in 2009. We have legitimate questions, such as: How much has the department been spending on the program and its trainers? How many teachers have received this so-called “cultural sensitivity” training? Will it ever end? Has the program made any difference on student performance?
Then we received the cost estimate. To obtain those answers from DPI, it would take 104,275 pieces of paper and 175 staff hours, costing us an astounding $19,969.46 fee.
Read the response from the department’s chief legal counsel, Janet Jenkins, here.
Seeking answers from government is not for the faint of heart – or apparently the shallow of pocket.
We are doing our best to learn as much about the teacher training as we possibly can, but the exorbitant fees being leveled by State Superintendent Tony Evers’ department is making it very difficult.
Is this a case of bureaucracy gone wild? Or is DPI using outrageous fees to keep the public from learning about the public’s business?
To help our investigation – which we pledge will not wind up in the pocket of the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction – click here to make a tax-deductible contribution.
Apparently it’s going to cost a lot of money to unmask this turkey of a program.