School Choice Wisconsin
Learn more about how the State Policy Network aids ALEC and spins disinformation in the states.
School Choice Wisconsin (SCW) is a Milwaukee-based nonprofit that promotes school vouchers, charter schools and education privatization. SCW is an associate member of the State Policy Network (SPN), a web of right-wing nonprofit organizations.
According to its website, "School Choice Wisconsin supports expanded educational options for parents through the use of school vouchers, charter schools, and innovative public-private partnerships. School Choice Wisconsin's experienced staff works with students, parents, taxpayers, and communities interested in school choice programs in Wisconsin. School Choice Wisconsin provides comprehensive and timely information on educational options in Wisconsin and voucher programs nationally."
State Policy Network
SPN is a web of right-wing “think tanks” and tax-exempt organizations in 49 states, Puerto Rico, Washington, D.C., and the United Kingdom. As of June 2017, SPN's membership totals 143. It is an $83 million right-wing empire as of the 2011 funding documents from SPN itself and each of its state "think tank" members. Although SPN's member organizations claim to be nonpartisan and independent, the Center for Media and Democracy's in-depth investigation, "EXPOSED: The State Policy Network -- The Powerful Right-Wing Network Helping to Hijack State Politics and Government," reveals that SPN and its member think tanks are major drivers of the right-wing, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)-backed corporate agenda in state houses nationwide, with deep ties to the Koch brothers and the national right-wing network of funders.
In response to CMD's report, SPN Executive Director Tracie Sharp told national and statehouse reporters that SPN affiliates are "fiercely independent." Later the same week, however, The New Yorker's Jane Mayer caught Sharp in a contradiction. In her article, "Is IKEA the New Model for the Conservative Movement?," the Pulitzer-nominated reporter revealed that, in a recent meeting behind closed doors with the heads of SPN affiliates around the country, Sharp "compared the organization’s model to that of the giant global chain IKEA." She reportedly said that SPN "would provide 'the raw materials,' along with the 'services' needed to assemble the products. Rather than acting like passive customers who buy finished products, she wanted each state group to show the enterprise and creativity needed to assemble the parts in their home states. 'Pick what you need,' she said, 'and customize it for what works best for you.'" Not only that, but Sharp "also acknowledged privately to the members that the organization's often anonymous donors frequently shape the agenda. 'The grants are driven by donor intent,' she told the gathered think-tank heads. She added that, often, 'the donors have a very specific idea of what they want to happen.'"
A set of coordinated fundraising proposals obtained and released by The Guardian in early December 2013 confirm many of these SPN members' intent to change state laws and policies, referring to "advancing model legislation" and "candidate briefings." These activities "arguably cross the line into lobbying," The Guardian notes.
Bradley Foundation Funding
See the Center for Media and Democracy's 2017 series of articles on the Bradley Foundation here.
- Total Revenue: $1,129,688
- Total Expenses: $1,081,117
- Net Assets: $1,018,335
- Total Revenue: $729,396
- Total Expenses: $1,123,668
- Net Assets: $969,764
- Total Revenue: $1,360,042
- Total Expenses: $974,871
- Net Assets: $1,364,076
Board of Directors
As of May 10, 2017:
- Andrew Neumann, Ph.D., Board Chair, HOPE Christian Schools
- Rose Fernandez, Mukwonago, WI
- Richard Laabs, Secretary, Lutheran Urban Mission Initiative Inc.
- Susan Mitchell, Fountain Hills, AZ
- Paul Petitjean, Treasurer, Brookfield, WI
- Mark Schug, Ph.D., Center for Economic Education - UWM
- Timothy Sheehy, Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce
As of May 10, 2017:
- Jim Bender, President
- Terry Brown, Vice-President
- Lisa LaDue, Development & Communications Consultant
- Brett Healy, President of the MacIver Institute, was formerly Vice President of Government Relations for SCW and also writes for Andrew Breitbart's BigGovernment.com.
Employer Identification Number (EIN): 38-3695127
School Choice Wisconsin
350 Bishops Way, Suite 104
Brookfield, Wisconsin 53005
- State Policy Network, Directory, organizational website, accessed May 10, 2017.
- School Choice Wisconsin, Mission, organizational website, accessed May 22, 2017.
- Rebekah Wilce, Center for Media and Democracy, EXPOSED: The State Policy Network -- The Powerful Right-Wing Network Helping to Hijack State Politics and Government, organizational report, November 13, 2013.
- Jane Mayer, Is IKEA the New Model for the Conservative Movement?, The New Yorker, November 15, 2013.
- Ed Pilkington and Suzanne Goldenberg, State conservative groups plan US-wide assault on education, health and tax, The Guardian, December 5, 2013.
- School Choice Wisconsin, 2015 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, August 2, 2016.
- School Choice Wisconsin, 2014 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, August 12, 2015.
- School Choice Wisconsin, 2013 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, August 21, 2014.
- School Choice Wisconsin, Board, organizational website, accessed May 10, 2017.
- School Choice Wisconsin, Staff, organizational website, accessed May 10, 2017.
- MacIver Institute, MACIVER INSTITUTE NAMES LEADER: Brett Healy named President of new think tank, organizational press release, March 13, 2009, accessed December 21, 2011
- Brett Healy, MacIver’s Fake Doctors’ Notes Video Report Garners Atlas Award Andrew Breitbart presents Big Government (blog), May 4, 2011