Friday, November 16, 2012

Urban League's David Cagigal to Join Walker's Team

An interesting little tid-bit has been bounced my way – a notice going out to various Wisconsin state agencies from Mike Huebsch, Scott Walker’s Secretary of Administration, to various Wisconsin agencies announcing the appointment of David Cagigal as the Chief Information Officer (CIO) for the state’s Division of Enterprise Technology (DET). Cagigal is scheduled to begin in his new position on November 19th.

David Cagigal
Huebsch’s brief heads-up listed some of Cagigal’s track record, noting that he previously “held executive IT positions that cross multiple industries and business functions, including executive positions at Alliant Energy, DeVry University, DePaul University, Maytag and Amoco.”

The notice somehow failed to mention that Cagigal also is still listed as the Vice Chair on the Board of Directors and “At-Large Member IT Leader” of the Urban League of Greater Madison (ULGM). Huebsch’s release also didn’t list Cagigal’s recent position as the chair of the board of directors of the currently defunct Madison Preparatory Academy.

The new state appointee is thought to have been a main strategist of last year’s attempt by the ULGM to win Madison school board approval for the proposed academy. He reportedly played a key role in recruiting Mad Prep’s public champion, Kaleem Caire to return to the city to head the ULGM and lead the failed charge for the quasi-privatized charter school.

Immediately following last December’s Madison School Board rejection of the Mad Prep proposal, Cagigal suggested that supporters should take a different tack. Speaking to the Wisconsin State Journal, he suggested that the school’s supporters might urge Wisconsin legislators to create a statewide charter school authorizing board as a way to bypass School Board approval and help Madison Prep receive the funding it was after from public coffers.

Reporting Cagigal’s statement, the WSJ’s Mathew DeFour pointed out that such a bill had already been introduced earlier in 2011. It was approved by the Republican-dominated Joint Finance Committee in the spring, but did not come up for a final vote. The WSJ piece noted that charter schools currently become eligible for public money only after they receive approval from the school districts in which they are located. The proposed legislation, eventually placed on hold but bound to come back in some form, would have done away with such local say.

Caire had emphatically stated how he was “one hundred percent in support of the charter bill” when he spoke before the Republican-dominated Joint Finance Committee hearing on the bill in March, 2011. His associate, Cagigal clearly understood the significance of the pending “school choice” legislation.

Cagigal had come to Madison in October, 2004 to become chief information technology officer at Alliant Energy.

Previously, he helped develop electronic learning at DePaul University. He then went on to become a director of information services involved with e-learning at DeVry, Inc., the international education-for-profit corporation.

The parent firm of a wide range of business and technical colleges and universities, Devry in recent years has moved into making acquisitions in the rapidly expanding field of online secondary education. Following the foiled Mad Prep project, Cagigal took a $500-a-day position as interim director of technology for the Dubuque Community School District.

The proposed “charter school reform” legislation that Cagigal urged Madiso Prep supporters to get behind would have among other things, entirely removed the charter school approval process from locally elected school boards.

If enacted, the legislation, destined to come back in some form, would create an appointed state body, the Charter School Authorizing Board (CSAB) that would have the power to grant charters anywhere in Wisconsin, even in communities where the local school board has turned down a proposal.

Writing in May, 2011, the Capital Times’ Susan Troller honed in on what the originally proposed legislation entailed :

In the past, School Board denial of a charter agreement signaled the end of the line for a project. But a new GOP-backed piece of legislation creating a state authorizing board for charters could change that. In fact, it would upend Wisconsin’s long tradition of local control of schools, where authority rests primarily with school board officials elected by local taxpayers…. 

…[C]ritics say loss of such control, combined with Gov. Scott Walker’s massive budget cuts to schools, plus 18 years of strict revenue limits, would lead to financial ruin for some public school districts. They claim the legislation is unfair because it provides public money from the state’s general aid fund — at $7,775 per student — to start new independent charter schools, but eliminates any oversight role by locally elected school officials. The flow of money for these new charters would reduce the pot of money remaining for the states’ existing schools during already fiscally challenging times.

Observing the public hearings held before the legislatures’ Joint Finance Committee in March, 2011, the political correspondent for the Progressive Magazine, Ruth Conniff observed that the measure was a political maneuver to allow privatization of public education.

Parts of the “Charter School Reform Bill” and related bills introduced by conservative Republicans in both houses of the legislature called for the expansion and funding of virtual (online) charter schools, something that long-time corporate IT specialist and “education reform” advocate David Cagical would likely find favorable.

In his announcement of Cagigal’s appointment, Mike Huebsch stated how, “We [the Walker administration, assumedly] are committed to leveraging technology to help state government perform more efficiently and effectively for Wisconsin taxpayers (sic) and we look forward to utilizing David’s experience and leadership in that pursuit.”

The notice mentioned neither those corporations nor wealthy individuals who currently pay little or no taxes who certainly have an already leveraged interest in supporting the state’s latest pro-privatization ally.

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