As she has been running to head the Department of Public Instruction, Rose Fernandez has said that she supports public schools. But you wouldn't know it if you looked beyond her campaign rhetoric. A 2005 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story about her children attending a Virtual School, revealed that they had previously been homeschooled. Some of her older children that were featured in that story now attend a private school. So there was homeschooling, then virtual schools, then a private school. This pattern seems to show that she has never been a big fan of public schools - that is until she decided to run for public office. Apparently we are supposed to just accept her campaign rhetoric without asking why Public schools were never good enough (at any point) for her own children.
Unfortunately Rose Fernandez has zero track record to look at beyond her campaign promises and current rhetoric. Let's face it, Rose Fernandez has zero experience with or investment in our state's public schools. This seems odd since she wants to lead the Department of PUBLIC Instruction. Voters are really being asked to take quite a big leap of faith indeed. They are being asked to take a person that has zero experience as an educator at any level and allow her to lead the entire state's education system. The public is being asked to make someone the head of the Department of Public Instruction that has never shown a real commitment to, well…public instruction.
If Rose Fernandez severe lack of real-life support is not enough, just look at some of her stated positions. When responding to questions from the wildly extreme Wisconsin Family Council, Fernandez sounded all of the right anti-public school talking points that they prefer to hear. In that document she supports not only removing the cap on the number of voucher schools in Milwaukee but then expanding it all across the state. In doing this she would essentially be lifting money out of the pockets of our public schools all over the state and handing it over to what she truly prefers – private schools. Her comments to the Wisconsin Family Council are unmistakable and they clearly show that she plans to "voucherize" Wisconsin schools.
Rose Fernandez not only has a preference for private schools but also apparently has a soft spot for private and for profit out-of-state companies. Rose Fernandez is connected in several different directions to the for-profit, Virginia-based company K12, Inc. She actually started surfacing in news stories, such as the one referenced above, directly in relation to K12 and virtual schools. K12 contracts with school districts using virtual schools and has made a handsome profit on Wisconsin dollars. In one K12 prospectus (pg. 69) the firm bragged about possibly capturing some $5 million dollars from the State of Wisconsin in the fiscal year 2008. Making this kind of scratch, K12 certainly has been able to fund all sorts of lobbyists and others to protect their Wisconsin gravy train. Rose Fernandez has been a loyal supporter of this private company and they would like nothing more than to see her gain a position that could realistically translate into even larger profits. It makes me wonder if they have or if they will invest any more of their loot into this race in one way or another.
Rose Fernandez wants to take over the Department of Public Instruction, even though she has never shown any observable support for public schools. Over the years she has personally avoided them, she has zero investment in them, and she supports taking away funding from them to prop up private schools and even a private company. One thing is now painfully clear, Rose Fernandez plans to take the Public out of the Department of Public Instruction.