Forward Institute brings George Lakoff to Madison

George Lakoff

The Forward Institute and the Wisconsin Freedom Campaign are pleased to announce that we are able to bring world renowned author and cognitive science pioneer George Lakoff to Madison, Wisconsin from March 21 – March 25. The full public itinerary is below with contact information.

Biography

George Lakoff is the country’s leading expert on the framing of political discourse. His books on politics include the best selling “Don’t Think of an Elephant!,” “The Political Mind,” “Moral Politics,” “Thinking Points“, and “Whose Freedom?

Professor Lakoff helps progressive citizens’ groups, activists, and policy makers think through their values and general principles, strategically formulate their policies, and effectively frame the full gamut of issues to express their deepest beliefs more effectively.

One of the world’s most renowned linguists, he is Richard and Rhoda Goldman Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley, where he has taught since 1972. Before that, he taught at Harvard and the University of Michigan, and was a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford.

Professor Lakoff is a founder of the fields of Cognitive Science and Cognitive Linguistics. He has published hundreds of technical articles, as well as books on Linguistics, Politics, Psychology, Poetics, Philosophy, and Mathematics. He specializes in the study of the mind and language, and has published the following books in that area: Metaphors We Live By (with Mark Johnson); Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things; More than Cool Reason (with Mark Turner); Philosophy in the Flesh (with Mark Johnson); and Where Mathematics Comes From (with Rafael Núñez). 

For over two decades, he was Co-Director of the Neural Theory of Language Project at the International Computer Science Institute at Berkeley. His current technical research is on the theory of how the neural circuitry of the brain gives rise to thought and language.

Madison Itinerary

There are many opportunities for the public to hear and interact with George Lakoff during his Madison trip. The following are open to the public:

 Saturday, March 22

Wisconsin Grassroots Festival: 8:30 am (doors open) – 4:15 pm

Wisconsin Heights High School – Mazomanie, WI
10173 US 14
Mazomanie, WI 53560

George Lakoff is the keynote speaker and will lead two breakout sessions – Advance registration available at http://www.wisconsingrassroots.net/2014_festival

Dinner with George Lakoff: 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm

The Old Feed Mill Restaurant
114 Cramer St
Mazomanie, WI 53560

Reservations are required and seating is limited at $30 per person. Advance reservations available: http://www.wisconsingrassroots.net/marcia/dinner_with_george_lakoff_after_the_festival

Sunday, March 23

Madison Reception for George Lakoff: 7:00 pm

Heritage Tavern, 131 East Mifflin St., Madison, WI

(corner of Mifflin and Webster, off the square)

Hosted by the Forward Institute with special guests including State Representative Chris Taylor. Seating is very limited, $150 includes an intimate gathering with George Lakoff,  food, wine, tax and gratuity. Reservations and advance payment are required for this once-in-a-lifetime event. Reservations can be arranged here: 

Monday, March 24

Special Guest Lecture, University of Wisconsin – Madison, Sponsored by the Havens Center: 7:00 pm

“Neural Politics: Cognitive and Material Power”

UW Memorial Union (see “Today in the Union” for room announcement)

This is Professor Lakoff’s first lecture on the UW – Madison campus, and is free and open to the public. Contact the Havens Center for additional information: http://www.havenscenter.org/vsp/george-lakoff

George Lakoff’s visit to Madison is co-sponsored by the Forward Institute, Inc., Wisconsin Freedom Campaign partner organizations (Wisconsin Grassroots Network, Institute for Wisconsin’s Future, MTI, MTEA, United Wisconsin, Midwest Environmental Advocates, WEAC, The Progressive Magazine, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign), and the Havens Center at UW – Madison.

For additional information:

scott@forwardinstitutewi.org

New Forward Institute study to be released

The Forward Institute will be releasing a new study next week in public press events which will be announced soon. The latest research began in August, 2013 and examines School Report Card scores in MPS, MPS charter, and 2R charter schools.

The report will have significant implications for education policy both in Milwaukee and statewide. It is also the first to examine the differences between the two charter school and public schools sets while controlling for multiple independent variables through multivariable regression analyses.

Press event notices will be posted on the Forward Institute website as soon as available. Follow Forward Institute to get instant notification of the event schedule.

 

CAFO Settlement after Decade of Violations

A factory farm in Wisconsin has agreed to pay a $100,000 settlement after a decade of violations. The hazards of concentrated livestock operations to public health are becoming well documented, as evidenced in recent Forward Institute posts on this website. Forward Institute statement on this settlement follows (Press Release):

Wisconsin Factory Farm to pay Six Figure Settlement to State

                A stipulation entered in Kewaunee County Circuit Court on September 12, 2013 resulted in $100,000 in fines levied against Keith Duescher, owner of the former “Legendairy Farms” CAFO. After nearly ten years of violations which subjected neighbors, wetlands, and Lake Michigan to manure runoff contamination and toxic emissions, the defendant (Duescher) has stipulated to the facts in evidence and the fine levied by the State of Wisconsin.

“This case is a stark illustration of how factory farms in Wisconsin are a threat to people who simply wish to live free to breathe clean air and have clean water to drink. Factory Farm oversight and accountability to the people of Wisconsin is absolutely necessary to ensure quality of life and quality of our local farms.” 

The State case outlined violations committed by Duescher and Legendairy Farms resulting in significant impact to the community and the environment beginning in 2004:

1. Manure runoff discharged into navigable waters that feed into Lake Michigan, resulting in a significant threat to water quality in the Great Lake and local tributaries.

2. The failure of Duescher to comply with permit and monitoring requirements posed a significant threat to public and environmental health.

3. Duescher compromised, damaged, or destroyed numerous wetland habitats, even after multiple contacts with DNR specialists instructing him to remove material discharged into those wetlands.

4. The open burning of a demolished barn and plastic containers resulted in airborne emission of dioxin and asbestos, two highly toxic and hazardous chemicals.

5. A second open burning incident occurred 8 months after Duescher had been warned by DNR against open pit burning. 

The full text of the stipulation and order can be read here

:Legendairy Farms Stipulation and Order

Wisconsin’s legislature and state agencies have created rules and accountability for a good reason, and this case is an illustration of why. We need continued oversight of factory farms and their practices for three important reasons. First, we have a fundamental right to live our lives with clean water and air. Second, our food supply needs to be safe and clean. Finally, factory farms engaging in unscrupulous practices without regard for their negative impact on people, land, and water are a scar on the long heritage of the Wisconsin family farm as part of the community. 

While we appreciate the efforts of the Wisconsin Department of Justice and Department of Natural Resources beginning to enforce the law, that there is much more work to be done in this area. There is a significant amount of research demonstrating the need for oversight and enforcement of CAFO operations.

Duescher’s “Legendairy Farms” is now owned and operated by Ebert Dairy Enterprises LLC of Algoma, WI.

New Messaging Campaign Unveiled at Fighting Bob Fest

You are invited to visit us at Fighting Bob Fest 2013 this weekend, where we are unveiling the Wisconsin Progressive Freedom Campaign…

“We CAN win the messaging war!” 

Forward Institute is spearheading a new, collaborative effort with progressive organizations and grassroots groups to take back Freedom for Progressives.

“What is this campaign all about?”

            The Wisconsin Progressive Freedom Campaign (WPFC) is a broad effort that has no precedent in Wisconsin or the US. For decades, progressives have been mere observers as conservatives have dominated messaging and communications on politics and policy. Through the WPFC, we will counter that dominance, and reclaim a value that has always represented progressives – Freedom. 

“Who is involved?”

Forward Institute is partnering with progressive organizations, individuals, and statewide grassroots organizations to create a long-term, multi-pronged structure for communications and values-based messaging on progressive issues. Consulting is Cognitive Science and Messaging expert George Lakoff from the University of California-Berkeley.

“How will it work?”

WPFC creates a four-pronged structure to address significant needs in progressive policy messaging and communications. Each will serve internal and external needs for partner organizations and all progressives statewide:

1. “Framers and Trainers” – Core group trained as messaging experts and trainers for work with grassroots and policy organizations statewide.

2. “Research” – Unique capacity to conduct independent, academic quality research on progressive policy issues to ensure accurate, authentic messaging. Also serves as resource for grassroots groups without research capacity.

3.”Strategic Communications/Booking Agents” – Creates capacity through multiple media formats to disseminate values-based messaging. This segment works to educate key media in progressive values policy language. Assemble and train issue experts on progressive values language for media appearances and contact.

4. “Social Forums/Donor Development” – Creates and plans social event forums with featured speakers to engage the public on progressive values and issues. Engages donor development through direct interaction with the WPFC, potential donors, research, and messaging on policy issues.

“How can I help?”

1. Donate to our secure pay pal account below to support this critical and progressive effort. Forward Institute is a 501(c)(3) organization.

2. Follow Forward Institute to stay informed about this important campaign, and check our website often – look for the “Wisconsin Progressive Freedom Campaign” tab.

3. Email us to get involved with the Wisconsin Progressive Freedom Campaign:             info@forwardinstitutewi.org

4. Visit us at Fighting Bob Fest to get more information!

Through a collaborative, consistent, authentic, and values-based messaging campaign – we WILL reclaim FREEDOM for PROGRESSIVES!

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Forward Institute Statement on Budget Passage

The Forward Institute Board of Directors issued this statement regarding legislative passage of the budget:

The Wisconsin Legislature has passed a budget which will do long-term damage to education in Wisconsin. In expanding the private voucher program statewide, failing to keep up with inflation in funding public schools, failing to address student poverty issues, and unfairly rewarding select schools and students, Wisconsin Legislators are basing bad policy solely on multi-million dollar marketing campaigns and lobbying efforts, not the evidence for what works in schools.  The most important function of state government is the support of public education (Brown v. Board of Education, majority opinion, Chief Justice Earl Warren, 1954); the majority party in Wisconsin has passed a budget which is a fundamental governing failure. Every citizen in Wisconsin will be negatively affected by this budget. 

1. Statewide expansion of private voucher schools increases spending by hundreds of millions of dollars on a program which has failed in its fundamental purpose:  provide a better educational alternative for children of poverty. After twenty-plus years of the Milwaukee experiment, voucher schools have shown no positive benefit to student outcome and have almost no accountability to the taxpayers.

2.  Voucher school expansion increases the financial burden on local public schools, especially those in areas of high poverty, as state funding fails to keep up with inflation. Students in rural and urban areas of poverty continue to be denied equal access to educational opportunity compared to their more fortunate peers.  This is fundamentally in violation of Article X(2) Section 3 of the State Constitution and Wisconsin state statute 121.01.

3. Property taxes will continue to increase. Funding for the private voucher program is taken from the education budget first, with public school funding coming out of the remaining revenues.  As state revenue for public education continues to diminish relative to costs and inflation, property taxpayers will shoulder the burden for the local funding gap in public education. This is also in violation of state statute 121.01 on public school financing.

4. The budget provisions allow existing voucher schools to accept students statewide, without the new students counting toward the enrollment cap. This statewide expansion is contrary to the original, bi-partisan voucher experiment as established during Tommy Thompson’s tenure as Governor.

5. The budget limits accountability for educational outcomes by explicitly forbidding the Department of Public Instruction from reporting voucher school and student data without the consent of individual schools, data that public schools are required to provide. This intentionally prevents comparative analyses of the effectiveness of voucher school programs.

Forward Institute applauds lawmakers’ agreement with our policy recommendation to abandon the use of School Report Cards to make critical school financing decisions. The remainder of the education budget is a disaster, ignoring critical evidence presented in the months preceding debate. Legislators who advocated for passage of the education budget have demonstrated they are not interested in creating evidence-based policy.  Wisconsin’s heritage of forward thinking public education is threatened by policies driven by outside   lobby groups that want to compete for public funds, instead of focusing those funds on improving our troubled schools. The Forward Institute will continue to advocate for effective, evidence-based public policy in Wisconsin through independent research and communication efforts, and engagement across partisan lines.

Forward Institute Board of Directors

(A pdf file is available here: Forward Institute Budget Passage Statement 2013)

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Report – Education Budget Places Heavier Education Funding Burden on Property Taxpayers

Based on the reported provisions of the education budget and state fiscal data, Forward Institute analysis shows that local property taxpayers will shoulder an increasing share of public education funding. This is potentially a violation of Wisconsin State Statutes regarding school finance.

Wisconsin Statute 121.01 regarding school finance, general aid:

“It is declared to be the policy of this state that education is a state function and that some relief should be afforded from the local general property tax as a source of public school revenue where such tax is excessive, and that other sources of revenue should contribute a larger percentage of the total funds needed.”

Compiling data from the Department of Public Instruction and Legislative Fiscal Bureau shows that for the first time since the adoption of Wisconsin Statute 121.01, local property taxes will fund a greater portion of the public education budget than state aid.

Capture

Hastily written, behind-the-scenes political deals never result in good public policy. This budget proposal is no different. Not only does it potentially violate state education funding statute 121.01 and place a greater burden on local property taxpayers, but it has opened the door for Governor Scott Walker to use the line item veto to simply eliminate the student enrollment limit on the voucher program. The result, as is clear from our analysis, would continue Wisconsin down a fiscally irresponsible path for public education.

The full report can be viewed at Education Budget Report June 6, 2013.

Forward Institute Chair Testimony against Election Omnibus Bill

The following is the testimony of Scott Wittkopf, Chair, Forward Institute, registering against AB225: 

Madame Chair and Members,

Upon review of AB225, the full scope and nature of this egregious bill can be found in the provisions which seek to revise the current Recall Statutes. The recall is provided for in the State Constitution under Article XIII, Section 12. It is abundantly clear that in providing citizens with the recall mechanism, the Constitution continued to affirm the principle of popular sovereignty in Wisconsin Government. In even considering AB225, this legislative body is systematically dismantling one of the foundational principles of Wisconsin government – that “the will of the people is the law of the land.”

The proposed change to the Recall Statutes in AB225 may be intended to apply only to local and municipal elected officials, but make no doubt, it flies in the face of the very letter of the Constitution. Article XIII, Section 12(7) states:

“This section shall be self−executing and mandatory. Laws may be enacted to facilitate its operation but no law shall be enacted to hamper, restrict or impair the right of recall.” 

AB225 does exactly that, and worse yet, attempts to hide behind the creation of two distinct classes of recall – one with a higher standard than the other. By any reasonable evaluation, AB225 hampers, restricts and impairs the Constitutional right of the recall. It is an erosion of the principle of popular sovereignty in Wisconsin Government – making it more difficult for citizens to exercise their constitutional right to recall an official for any reason related to their duties. As I stated previously, this is the nature of the entire bill – the destruction of popular sovereignty in Wisconsin.

That can be the only explanation for a bill which would allow private corporations to increase their unreported, unregulated, and unlimited “independent” political campaign influence; while at the same time prohibiting a School District, which has full accountability to the citizens, from spending a single dime of those very same taxpayers’ funds to inform them about important funding referendum. This is absurd and a travesty. This provision in AB225 will serve only to increase the already outsized influence of private, unaccountable corporations, and continue to diminish the voice of citizens in local elections.

AB225 also continues to increase the influence of lobbyists in Wisconsin elections, through extending the contribution time limit. We already have lobbyists writing our laws on behalf of their corporate sponsors. These same lobbyists will now have increased power to influence elections. Again I reiterate, decimating the principle of popular sovereignty.

You will hear a great deal of testimony today, and most of it will be against AB225 relevant to the rights of citizens to express their political will through the vote. This is compelling testimony. I also ask you to consider legacy in the context of my remarks.

This committee is now taking up a bill, just as your colleagues in Joint Finance are, which will create the legacy that this legislative body will leave behind.  Passage of AB225 will ensure that legacy will be one of destruction. It is not overstating that AB225, if passed, will result in the destruction of popular sovereignty as Wisconsin has known for over a century. Your legacy will be that private corporations, through highly partisan political committees, will have greater control and influence in the Wisconsin political and governing process. Wisconsin citizens’ voices will be diminished even further in their own government.

The principle of popular sovereignty as intended in the State Constitution will be lost, as it was in the late 19th Century. History will judge your actions as harshly as it did the legislators of the “Robber Baron” era. We may look to history for the consequences of that era, and I hope my testimony today gives you pause as you consider the legacy you will leave should you pass this bill. The Constitutional right of the recall which AB225 intends to impair represents the principle and precedent of popular sovereignty in Wisconsin government. AB225 is an assault on that principle. Today, this committee has a clear choice.

The passage of AB225 means that you choose the destruction of popular sovereignty, in favor of increased private, corporate power and influence over Wisconsin government and, therefore, its people. I ask you today to choose rejection of AB225, respecting the legacy of those who came before you in this legislative body, and the generations of citizens who have exercised their right of popular sovereignty so that we all may do the same.

Respectfully submitted,

Scott Wittkopf, Chair

Forward Institute, Inc.