Madison public schools may have two-thirds of their funding yanked if they do not allow students to recite the pledge of allegiance or the national anthem daily, if new legislation is passed.
The legislation, proposed by state Rep. Sheryl Albers, R-Reedsburg, late last week, is a response to the Madison school board’s decision to ban the pledge and anthem in schools.
Albers said the school board’s decision was an embarrassment to the entire state, and was anti-American. She also said she does not believe the school board represents the ideas of most Madison residents.
“How typical of left-wing radicals to assume that the vast majority of patriotic Wisconsinites who want the pledge or anthem offered are too stupid to understand that certain board members want to indoctrinate children with their radical political agendas,” Albers said.
Albers proposed taking a large cut of school funding because she wanted the penalty to be large enough to make a difference. She said the legislation had to send a message to the school board, and taxpayers should not have to financially support school districts that don’t comply with the law.
“To eliminate the opportunity for students to show their love for America is just plain wrong,” Albers said. “The board’s decision was a slap in the face of this Legislature, our soldiers and this nation, and I will not stand by as Wisconsin and our great United States of America is mocked by a small band of radicals.”
Rep. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, said that he vehemently disagrees with the school board’s decision, and if they respect the people they represent, the school board would reverse the decision.
“[The decision] shows a lack of respect for democracy, and the people of Madison have risen against the decision with disgust and embarrassment,” said Nass. “The volume of people who came out in protest shows this decision does not reflect the majority and that majority truly doesn’t rule and political correctness outweighs patriotism.”
Both Democrats and Republicans object to the school board’s decision to ban the pledge, but there is not widespread support for Alber’s legislation.
Although he agrees with the bill and applauds Albers for bringing attention to the issue, Nass said he is not going to co-sponsor the legislation.
“Two-thirds of a school’s funding is a lot of dollars, and I want to make sure that no students are punished for a decision that the school board made,” said Nass. “There is also some reluctance on my part because we haven’t used any of the big club money that the federal government [provides] and I don’t think we should start doing that.”
Rep. Spencer Black, D-Madison, said although he does not agree with the school board’s decision, it would be a mistake to cut state funding.
“Rep. Albers legislation is poorly considered. It would punish 25,000 school children by taking away millions of dollars in funding,” Black said. “The proposal is really off base because children are going to end up being the innocent victims of this political fight.”
Black said the legislation will not pass, and expected the school board’s decision to be overturned.
“They made a mistake, and they admitted they made a mistake,” said Black. “And I think the school board will reverse themselves this evening. But some people are intentionally turning this mistake into a political game.”