Fall 2014 SPARC Local Action Guide: Election Updates, Voter ID & More!

It’s a busy fall in Sun Prairie and SPARC put together this Local Action Guide to help you keep track of what’s important to our community!  Scroll down for updates & announcements of important events and volunteer opportunities.

Action item:
of the Sun Prairie Area School District:spasd logo banner

  • Monday, September 29 at 7 pm in the Performing Arts Center of the High School
  • This is the all-important annual meeting where taxpayers VOTE to set tax levy and approve the annual budget.  In previous years, proposals have been made by citizens at the meeting that have a major negative impact on the budget, so it’s absolutely critical that EVERY VOTER who cares about our schools attends to make sure the budget it passed at a level that assures success for all learners, and to ensure that any proposals that are passed at the meeting truly reflect the will of the community.  All voters of the SPASD are eligible to vote at the meeting – and “futures depend on us” to be there and support our schools!
  • Free childcare will be provided
  • Click here to review the Annual Meeting Book

Tuesday, Nov. 4 is  ELECTION DAY!vote-nov-4th-600x300 
Help Sun Prairie Get Out the Vote!

VOTER REGISTRATION & INFORMATION: Need to register? Not sure where to vote? Visit My Vote Wisconsin to find your polling place, see a sample of the fall ballot, and learn what you need to do to register.  You can register at the polls on election day or you can register in advance in person at City Hall or the Sun Prairie Public Library.  Be sure to bring proof of residency with you to register!  Not sure if you have what you need to vote?  Check out this handy new interactive voter guide from United Wisconsin to find out!

EARLY/ABSENTEE VOTING: You can vote early (in-person absentee voting) at City Hall from Oct. 20-Oct 31.  Alternately, you can request that an absentee ballot be mailed to you (requests must be made by Thursday, Oct. 30 and ballots must be postmarked or returned to City Hall by 8pm on election day). Sun Prairie residents can click here for more information about Absentee Voting. Please note that if you vote absentee you must present your photo ID in person or include a photocopy of your ID when returning your ballot by mail. See below for more information the new photo ID requirements.

VOTER ID LAW:  As of today, the voter id requirement WILL be in effect for the fall election, so please encourage everyone you know to be prepared at the polls and help spread this important information.  SPARC has several volunteers lined up to provide FREE rides to the DMV for anyone who needs one.  Just email SunPrairieAction@gmail.com to make arrangements.

Here are some voter resources you may find helpful:

The City of Sun Prairie needs your help to ensure a fair and smooth election on Nov. 4.   Full and half-day shifts available, compensation provided.  Must attend one of four training sessions that will be held on Oct. 22 (4:30pm), 23 (9am), 29 (5pm), and 30 (9am).  For more information, contact Arrin Linzenmeyer at City Hall – alinzenmeyer@cityofsunprairie.com or 837-2511.


  • NAACP Candidate Forum, Oct. 9, 2014. 5 – 9 p.m., Edgewood College, Anderson Auditorium – Predolin Hall, 1000 Monroe Street, Madison, WI. This event is free and open to the public!
  • Community Session on Testing and Assessment for Grades K-12.  Wed. Oct. 15, 6:30pm, Sun Prairie High School.  RSVP on the SPASD facebook page.  Sun Prairie Area Schools is now on facebook and twitter.  Be sure to follow them to stay informed of news and events.
  • Sun Prairie Reads main event!  An evening with Seedfolks author Paul Fleischman.  October 17, 6:30pm at the Sun Prairie High School PAC.  SPr ARC was honored to partner with the library for our “Growing Community” series of discussions and the Grow it Forward Community Art & Action project – be sure to get to the library to post your flowers on our community mural in advance of the author’s visit!
  • Did you know Union Cab of Sun Prairie provides FREE CAB RIDES TO THE POLLS ON ELECTION DAY for anyone who needs one?  Call 608-837-5550 or 608-242-2020 to arrange a ride, and be sure to thank this worker-owned cooperative for this wonderful service to our community!
  • School Board Committee Positions are Available. Apply Today!  The Sun Prairie School Board is seeking community members to serve as citizen representatives on two of its committees.  Community input has been a valuable asset to the work of the School Board. Each committee meets once per month. Appointment is for two years beginning November 3, 2014.
    Planning Committee — 2 citizen representatives needed.  This committee is responsible for the development of planning for the District’s instructional and operational/business functions, helping to provide the School Board with a common focus for decision-making. Meets the 1st Monday of each month at 6:30 pm.
    Performance & Operations Committee — 3 citizen representatives needed. This committee is responsible for monitoring and providing guidance to the School Board on all items pertaining to the current fiscal and/or academic year. Meets the 3rd Monday of each month at 6:30 pm.
    If interested, please mail or deliver a letter with your name, address, telephone number, and a statement not to exceed 500 words about your qualifications and interest in appointment to serve to: Chandu Vemuri, Sun Prairie Area School District, 501 South Bird Street, Sun Prairie, WI 53590. Applications Due: Monday, October 13, 2014 by 4 pm. You do not need to specify the committee for which you’re applying unless you have a preference. Any adult resident in the Sun Prairie Area School District is eligible to apply for appointment. Interviews with interested applicants will be held during the week of October 20th.
  • Prairie Job Connect meets every Tuesday from 10-noon at Sunshine Place, 1632 W. Main St.  “People of all education levels, work histories and backgrounds are welcome” to drop in “to meet with a team of professionals is available to help build resumes, walk though applying for jobs online with on-site computers, finding employment postings and develop other skills needed to navigate the job market.” For more information, call Vreugdenhil at 608-825-3225 or email her at vreugdenhil@countyofdane.com.

Volunteer Opportunities:

  • Schools of Hope is looking for tutors in math and reading to work 30-45 minutes a week with one student over the school year.  Application materials available online.
  • School Friends – a mentoring program through Dane County Big Brothers/Big Sisters – needs volunteers to match mentors with 70 kids in Sun Prairie schools.  Click here for more info.
  • Sunshine Connections – volunteers are always needed to help with local programs like Meals on Wheels, Sunshine Suppers and more.  Visit Sunshine Connections for more info.
  • Interested in volunteering on a local campaign?  Please note that while SPARC is a non-partisan civic organization and doesn’t support or endorse candidates,  we’re happy to pass on information about opportunities to get involved, and we encourage everyone to take an active part in the fall elections and promoting civic engagement in Sun Prairie! We gladly share information that our members ask us to pass on to our lists.The Sun Prairie for Mary Burke office is located near Kwik Trip, at 1150 W. Main Street.  The phone number is 608-422-2999.  Stop in between 8AM and 8PM to see how you can get involved: making phone calls, canvasing door-to-door, preparing food for volunteers, preparing materials, decorating the office, the opportunities are endless!  The office will be holding a kick-off celebration on Saturday, Sept. 27 from 2:30-5:30 pm.  RSVP here.Click here to find the nearest GOP field office (if there’s a local office, no one has shared that info yet).

Have news or announcements to share in the SPARC Local Action Guide?  Email your suggestions to SunPrairieAction@gmail.com!

Sun Prairie Action Resource Coalition (SPARC)

Join our community on facebook and follow us on Twitter @PrairieAction.

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SPARC’s Local Action Fund Granted Non-Profit Status

Great news!

The Sun Prairie Action Resource Coalition is thrilled to report that the IRS has officially approved our application for 501(c)3 status, which means that we can now fully expand our efforts to make a local impact through SPARC Local Action Fund, the charitable arm of SPARC.  Many thanks to all on the SPARC team who worked so hard to make this happen, and to the many community supporters who continue to make our efforts possible.

The SPARC Local Action Fund has been established to provide a mechanism for SPARC to serve the community by applying for grants and soliciting donations to help promote equity, build community, and fight hunger in Sun Prairie through such programs our existing SnackSmart program, which provides healthy snacks to hungry kids in all seven Sun Prairie elementary  schools and Prairie Phoenix Academy.

If you or your organization would like to make a tax-deductible donation to the SnackSmart program, you can donate to the SPARC Local Action Fund 501(c)3, CLICK HERE TO DONATE:  Donate Button with Credit Cards

Donations can also be mailed to SPARC Local Action Fund, 6325 Devonshire Lane, Sun Prairie, WI 53590.  Donations received by mail are not subject to fees, so if you intend to make a larger donation, this ensures every dollar goes directly to the community.  Please email  SunPrairieAction@gmail.com with any questions.

Healthy snack donations can also be dropped off at our local collection location, the Sun Prairie Public Library, 1350 Linnerud.  Healthy snack ideas include individually-packaged, high-protein, low-sugar and nut-free, non-perishable items such as

  • nut-free granola or fruit bars (NutriGrain bars are specifically requested by schools)
  • fruit cups in 100% juice
  • unsweetened applesaucesnacksmart logo cups
  • dried fruit
  • whole grain low-sodium crackers or chips (like whole grain Goldfish)
  • rice cakes
  • whole grain finger-food cereals (like regular Cheerios)
  • graham cracker products (Teddy Grahams, Giant Goldfish, Bug Bites, etc)

Click here for more information on the program and how you can get involved.

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SPARC calls on Sun Prairie to help kickstart Community Radio Program!

SPARC Urges Residents, Businesses To Pledge to Community Radio Project
the sun
The Sun Prairie Action Resource Coalition (SPARC) urges area residents, businesses and organizations to contribute to the “Kickstarter” fundraising campaign for the planned 103.5 The Sun community radio station.

The fundraising deadline is Aug. 19 at 11:49 a.m., and many more pledges are needed to launch the community radio station.

If funded, The Sun would provide a much-needed local outlet to connect our community, giving local individuals, groups, and businesses a new forum for sharing news, information and opportunities, SPARC said.

In a news release Wednesday, SPARC said it is urging its members and Sun Prairie residents to contribute $10 or $100 or whatever people can afford. SPARC also asks that you also share the link to the Kickstarter campaign – http://kck.st/1w3FAFq - on facebook and Twitter to help spread the word and support this effort.

SPARC is offering its supporters a chance to contribute to a group donation to the program, and challenges other local community to groups to raise funds among their memberships also.

SPARC members wishing to contribute to SPARC’s group contribution can send their donations to Heather DuBois Bourenane at 681 Broadway Drive, Sun Prairie, WI, 53590, to be included with the SPARC donation. At a donation level of $150 or more, donors receive an opportunity to host their own show and recognition on an Adopt-a-Watt plaque at the station. Deadline for contributing to this group donation is August 16, 2014. Please email SunPrairieAction@gmail.com with pledges or questions about the team donation.

SPARC will also collect donations in person this Sunday when it hosts the Progressive Partners Picnic (free and open to all) at Orfan Park from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m). Donations intended for the community radio may be dropped off at this time by anyone not wishing to donate online.

If the goal of $10,350 is not reached by August 19, the Sun Prairie Media Center will not be able to collect any of the money pledged (and all pledges made through SPARC will be returned). Media center director Jeff Robbins has reported that interest has been strong but much more is needed and soon but the time is growing short to turn that interest into tangible financial support.

SPARC encourages other local community groups and organizations to help the Sun Prairie Media Center to get the word out and make this happen in our community.
The Sun Prairie Media Center is a non-profit organization operating on a budget that covers the day-to-day operations of KSUN and KIDS-4, Sun Prairie’s two public access TV stations. It won’t cost much to operate ‘The Sun’ radio station once the initial costs are covered.

The proposed community radio station would host talented local musicians that don’t get the airplay or recognition they deserve from local commercial radio. It would also feature local sports and forums on important community issues. Residents will have a large role in determining the programming of the radio station.

Anyone who donates at least $10 to 103.5 The Sun Kickstarter campaign will receive some exclusive giveaways, including “103.5 The Sun Community Radio” stickers, flashlight keychains, t-shirts, and mugs. In addition, anyone who donates at the “Adopt-A-Watt” level of $103 will have their name etched on a plaque at the “103.5 The Sun Community Radio” studios.

All donors will receive updates on the radio project and special on-air thanks once the station launches. “103.5 The Sun” is scheduled to be on the air in summer 2015. Additional information on the station and its progress is available at https://www.facebook.com/thesuncommunityradio?ref=br_tf.

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SPARC to host Progressive Partners Picnic at Orfan Park August 3

The Progressive Partners of Wisconsin’s Second Congressional District summer picnic will be held Sunday, August 3, from 1-4pm at Orfan Park in Sun Prairie!  The Sun Prairie Action Resource Coalition is excited to host this quarterly meeting for the first time and looks forward to a fun, productive afternoon that will provide an opportunity for grassroots teams and area progressives to connect, share ideas, and talk about how local action works in our communities!

All are welcome - RSPV today for this great chance to connect with local progressives!

All are welcome – RSPV today for this great chance to connect with local progressives!

Click here for more details and to RSVP!

We will have a sitter on hand to watch kids at the park during the “business” portion of this largely social event, so feel free to bring the whole family! In addition to plenty of free time for socializing and connecting with area progressives, we’ll be chatting with a few of our elected officials and fall candidates, and learning more about the Community Schools initiative in Sun Prairie and how we can organize locally to protect our public schools and provide an equal playing field for all students. Each of the grassroots teams will also provide a short summary of events/organizing activities since our last meeting.

RAIN PLAN: In the event of stormy weather, we will send an announcement to all who RSVP’d and will hold the event at the Westside Community Building at 2598 West Main (corner of West Main and Highway C/Grand Ave). There is an outdoor shelter, however at Orfan Park, so we don’t plan to change the venue unless the weather is very bad.

Hope to see you there!  Friends, new & old, and families welcome!

Please share this invitation widely and RSVP today!

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Grow It Forward! A Community Art & Action Project

Want to see how far one little act of kindness can go?

GROW IT FORWARD at the Sun Prairie Public Library!
grow it forward image art & action

SPARC’s Grow it Forward Community Art & Action Project is a collaborative effort to “grow” an interactive garden mural at the library that represents random acts of kindness and connections that inspire all of us to “grow it forward” and build community in Sun Prairie.   This art and action project provides an opportunity to embrace diversity and build community, two major themes of the Sun Prairie Reads novel, Seedfolks, through local acts of kindness.


This is what the GROW IT FORWARD mural looked like on the first day – go check out for yourself what it looks like NOW that the garden of kindness has begun to grow! The mural is located on the large wall next to the entrance to the Children’s Library.

For every act of kindness you do over the summer, place a flower on the mural on the library wall and watch us grow a garden of kindness together.  Paper flowers – and “seeds” with ideas for local actions – are provided at the mural, or you can make your own.  All are welcome to participate in the GROW IT FORWARD Project, which will continue as an ongoing project through the duration of the Seedfolks Sun Prairie Reads program.

While you’re at the library, be sure to participate in the Summer Reading Programs for kids, teens & adults!  And remember: the library is a collection site for our SnackSmart Program, which provides snacks to summer school.  If you’d like to make a donation of a healthy snack (suggested items:  nut-free, healthy snacks like fruit, NutriGrain bars, cheese sticks, no-sugar added applesauce, low-sugar cereals and low-sodium crackers).  Just drop your snacks off at the bin behind the check-out desk – and be sure to add a flower to the wall if you do!  We CAN make sure no kids learn hungry in our schools!

grow it forward flierSAVE THE DATE:  SPARC will be hosting a second talk, on Sept. 11, 2014 at 6:30pm at the library, on Growing Community: Sharing our Stories.  Please mark your calendars and joins us for this celebration of the diversity of our community and the value of connecting with one another.

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Volunteer Opportunity: PFLAG forming local chapter of LGBT allies, meeting June 1st

Paul Esser, former mayor of Sun Prairie, spoke at a recent SPARC meeting of his efforts to organize a local chapter of PFLAG, a national organization supporting LGBT individuals and their families.  While Madison has its own PFLAG chapter, there’s a real need to support our own growing community and the rural areas that surround it with a separate group around which families can connect and find support, as well as resources for education and advocacy.

The group is now looking for members to sit on a local board to help lead this new group, and SPARC calls on its members to consider this invitation and opportunity to provide much-needed support for local LGBT families!

To learn more, please plan to attend a potluck dinner on June 1, 2014 at 5pm at the Sun Prairie United Methodist Church (750 Windsor St, Sun Prairie, WI) and see below for the complete details from Paul Esser:


PFLAG Organizing In Sun Prairie Area

There is an effort underway in the Sun Prairie area to start a PFLAG chapter. Founded in 1972 with the simple act of a mother publicly supporting her gay son, PFLAG is the nation’s largest family and ally organization. Made up of parents, families, friends, and straight allies united with people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT), PFLAG is committed to advancing equality and societal acceptance of LGBT people through its threefold mission of support, education and advocacy. PFLAG now has over 350 chapters and 200,000 members and supporters crossing multiple generations of American families in major urban centers, small cities and rural areas in all 50 states. There is a PFLAG chapter in Madison and they have indicated their support for the Sun Prairie area effort.

The organizing effort has been initiated by the Sun Prairie United Methodist church. But since PFLAG is a nonreligious organization, the new chapter can not be attached to a religious organization nor can it be meeting in a religious facility.

The national PFLAG organization wants to see five to eight people from the community take the lead. One or two of those could come from the Sun Prairie United Methodist Church but the others need to come from the area being served.

The initial group will decide how frequently the chapter meets, location, and meeting format. The Madison chapter, for example, meets one Sunday afternoon a month for two hours with the first hour being devoted to a presentation and the second hour to sharing among the people present. The Madison participants are typically a combination of parents, friends and family members of LGBT people and LGBT community members.

The contact people for the efforts thus far have been Paul & Carol Esser from the Methodist Church. They say the reason for having a Sun Prairie area PFLAG chapter when one already exists in Madison is that Sun Prairie is a suburban community in a rural setting. The needs and interest of LGBT people and their family and friends here is much different then in a highly urbanized college dominated city like Madison. For both youth and adults, the needs are unique so a Sun Prairie area chapter can better reflect and react to those needs. Paul Esser says he’d liked to see the geographic focus of this chapter be all of eastern Dane County and not restricted to just Sun Prairie. This will be one of the decisions that will be addressed by the initial group so it would be good if people from outside of Sun Prairie got involved.

The Sun Prairie United Methodist Church is hosting a pot luck dinner meeting at its building on June 1 at 5 pm to begin serious discussions about the Sun Prairie area PFLAG chapter. After this meeting it is expected that a group of people not connected to the church will take over the efforts of getting the chapter underway and the Methodist church would become simply a supporter of the effort.


All interested people in the community are invited to the June 1 meeting and they do not need to live in the City of Sun Prairie. The meeting will be at 702 North Street, Sun Prairie with the pot luck starting at 5 pm. The Madison chapter people will arrive at 5:45 pm so anyone not wanting to participate in the potluck is welcome to come at that time. For additional information you should contact Paul Esser at 608-837-3907 or ptespwi@gmail.com.

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Growing Community: May 29 Seedfolks Art & Action event at library

grow it forward image art & actionThe Sun Prairie Action Resource Coalition (SPARC) is thrilled to collaborate with the Sun Prairie Public library through a “Growing Community” project that connects the Sun Prairie Reads novel, Seedfolks, by Paul Fleischman, to local actions that connect our community.

“Growing Community: Finding Common Ground”
May 29, 2014
6:30pm, Community Room, Sun Prairie Public Library
1350 Linnerud Dr, Sun Prairie, WI 53590

With Sun Prairie Action Resource Coalition (SPARC) members
Heather DuBois Bourenane (UW-Madison and Madison College),
Gina Pagel (Elementary World Language/Spanish Teacher, Waunakee) and
Xue Vang (Bilingual Assistant, CH Bird Elementary).

Building on the novel’s theme of gardening as a means of finding “common ground” to create a sense of a community, this session features a conversation exploring the possibilities of creating community across groups, languages, and cultures. “Growing Community” is an opportunity to share strategies and brainstorm ideas for making positive connections with our neighbors in meaningful and lasting ways, even when it seems like we might not have a lot in common.

The session includes a hands-on workshop to launch SPARC’s Grow it Forward project: a community effort to “grow” an interactive garden mural at the library that will represents random acts of kindness and connections that inspire all of us to “grow it forward” and build community in Sun Prairie.   This art and action project provides an opportunity to apply and embrace the novel’s themes of diversity and community through local acts of kindness.

All are welcome to participate in the GROW IT FORWARD Community Art & Action Project, which will continue as an ongoing project through the duration of the Seedfolks Sun Prairie Reads program.  The event is free and open to the public, and all are invited to help us grow this garden of kindness on the community mural!

If you’re on facebook, you can RSVP here and invite your friends!

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SPARC’s 3rd Annual Garage Sale! Announcement + Volunteer Opportunity

Support a great cause &
connect with local friends at our
3rd annual SPARC Garage Sale
May 1-3, 2014, 751 Eddington Drive


  • Thursday May 1: 7:30am – 5:30pm
  • Friday May 2: 7:30am – 5:30pm
  • Saturday May 3: 8 am – noongarage_sale_main

We need your help to make the garage sale a success, and there are 4 ways to help:

  1. Donate! Garage sale items can be dropped off at the Mugan’s home, 751 Eddington Drive. Please call ahead to make sure that someone will be there. Karen can be reached at: 577-9141. Also, spread the word that Al Guyant is willing to pick-up items that people are able to deliver before the sale. You can arrange for pick-up by calling 825-8844.  Note: as in previous years, unsold items will be donated to Red Barn to support local families.
  2. Volunteer!  We need volunteers to help set-up, sort, and price on the Tuesday and Wednesday before the sale, volunteers to work on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday and also a take down crew to transport any unsold items to donation sites.  Sign up online for a shift!
  3. Shop!  Stop by during the sale and support SPARC with your purchases.
  4. Spread the Word!  Please share this announcement and let your friends and neighbors know that proceeds will benefit the SPARC Local Action Fund 501(c)3, which goes to programs like SnackSmart to provide snacks to hungry kids in Sun Prairie Schools and help SPARC continue to hold community events like candidate forums and community conversations.

Thank you, Sun Prairie, for your continued and generous support of our efforts to connect our neighbors around local actions that move our community forward!



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Update: May 1st Education Event to feature Karen Lewis & John Kuhn

As some of you may have heard, Diane Ravitch is unable to join us on May 1st to discuss her new book.  And while we’re disappointed and hope she recovers quickly, I wanted to let you know that the event will go on, and the organizers have already confirmed a very exciting lineup of speakers!
Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis

Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis

Texas school superintendent John Kuhn

Texas school superintendent John Kuhn

Come join the national movement to save our public schools! Chicago Teachers union president Karen Lewis and Texas school superintendent John Kuhn headline a rally in Wisconsin to beat back the assault on public education!
Thursday, May 1, 2014, Monona Terrace, Madison.
Grassroots networking social: 5:30-6:45.  Program begins at 7:00.
Please spread the word and plan to be there for this important event!
If you would like to reserve a table for the networking event, please contact Andrea Potter
at the Progressive: andreap@progressive.org
Hope to see you there!

See below for the announcement from Edgewood College Dean of Education Tim Slekar:

I received an email from Diane Ravitch last night. Late last week Diane fell and damaged her knee. She has to have a knee replacement and has canceled all of her speaking events for the next 6 weeks. So that means she will not be speaking in Madison at the Monona Terrace on May 1st at 7:00 pm.

However, Texas superintendent John Kuhn and Chicago Teachers’ Union president Karen Lewis will speak at Monona Terrace on May 1st at 7:00 pm.

We will use this opportunity to launch the “Reclaiming the Conversation in Education” sessions led by Edgewood College’s School of Education (More info to follow).

Continuing the fight,


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Join us! An Evening with Diane Ravitch, May 1, 2014

UPDATE 4/14/14: Unfortunately, Diane Ravitch will not be able to attend the May 1st event in Madison due to an injury, but Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis and Texas school superintendent John Kuhn are confirmed.  Click here for details on the exciting new lineup!

Update: SPARC HAS TICKETS to the May 1 Diane Ravitch event!  If you’d like to attend, please email SunPrairieAction@gmail.com or call Heather at (608) 572-1696(608) 572-1696 to make arrangements.  Suggested donation is $5.  Advance tickets recommended for this can’t-miss event for parents, educators, and anyone who wants to know more about the landscape of public education.

Public education and community schools advocate Diane Ravitch will speak on May 1st 2014 in Madison at the Monona Terrace at 7:00pm.   This is the rescheduled event originally planned for last fall, and is sponsored by Edgewood College’s School of Education, The Progressive, Midwest Family Broadcasting, Madison Teachers Inc. Wisconsin Education Association Council.

A grassroots networking social event begins at ravitch5:30, and SPARC will join other education advocacy groups to connect with each other and point event attendees toward local action teams and other those who share their concerns.  SPARC and other area grassroots teams are proud co-sponsors of this exciting event.

After her talk about the destructive elements of education reform, Diane will sign copies of her new book, Reign of Error.


“No matter what side of the debate the reader is on, Ms. Ravitch provides a thought-provoking look at some of the major challenges facing public education today.”
Eleanor Chute


Diane Ravitch
Reign of Error
May 1, 2014, Monona Terrace, 7:00pm
The suggested donation for the public talk is $5 – $10.  Tickets available at the Progressive, Edgewood, MTI, and same day at the event. There will be a Grassroots Networking Get-Together from 5:30-6:30. For more information on getting a free table at the networking event, contact Andrea Potter at the Progressive 608-257-4626608-257-4626. Come early to connect with local action teams and learn how YOU can get involved locally to address public education issues in your community.


If you’ve been following education news and upcoming legislation in Wisconsin, you are undoubtedly aware that there are several bills on the table this session that would severely undermine local control and weaken accountability of charter schools. Many of these measures are being drafted and supported by the lobbyists of for-profit voucher and charter ventures, such as the American Federation for Children and ALEC.  And Wisconsin is not the only state seeing the impact and influence of these efforts.  Nation-wide, this privatization agenda is being enacted by legislators who put political games before the needs of students and are consolidating power at the state level to hand our schools over to private interests, against our will and without our consent.

Diane Ravitch has been chronicling that process for over 20 years.  After serving in the Education cabinets of President George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, Dr. Ravitch soon became the nation’s foremost authority on dangers of moving toward an increasingly standardized system of assessing our students and our schools, and how this system is tied to a larger privatization movement.  Her books include Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools (New York: Knopf, 2013); The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education (2010); The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn (New York: Knopf, 2003); and Left Back: A Century of Battles Over School Reform (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000/2001).  Over the years, her positions have evolved as the political education landscape has changed and the influence of an agenda to privatize public education has become increasingly pervasive.

Her work, including her extremely popular blog and her new book, help shine light on how outside forces and special interest groups are shaping education policy and “reform” in Wisconsin, influencing legislation, and pouring unprecedented amounts of money into Wisconsin campaigns.   The current legislative session saw a slew of bills that undermine local authority and remove taxpayers from the decision-making process essential to ensuring that our public schools best serve the needs of our specific communities.  Such legislation, coupled with big-money influence of the special interests behind them, are a very real and very dangerous threat to public education in Wisconsin.

Please join us at this absolutely critical time to discuss what we can do locally to address these issues, and why the big picture of what’s going on nationally matters to all of us.


Reviews, interviews, and praise for Reign of Error:

In anticipation of the event, SPARC held a Community Conversation last fall: Why Public Education Matters: Locally, Nationally, Now with Ruth Conniff of The Progressive and Tim Slekar, Dean of the School of Education, Edgewood College, and Rep. Gary Hebl. Thanks to all who attended  – you can learn more about local action by checking out our Action Guide To Standing Up for Local Schools and Local Control.

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