Badger History Bulletin - Review
The Framework of Your Wisconsin Government
Originally published in BHB Volume 1, Number 2
14th edition. By the WISCONSIN TAXPAYERS ALLIANCE. (The Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance: Madison, 1995) Pp. 103. Illustrations, graphs, bibliography. $1.50 per copy, discount on larger orders.)
The Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance recently published the 14th edition of The Framework of Your Wisconsin Government. This is the most extensive revision of the book in quite some time. Changes in this edition include a new organizational structure, a stronger visual presentation, updated and added material throughout, and a separate teacher's manual.
The Framework is a very useful teaching tool for any instructor who teaches one or more units dealing with state or local government. There are two reasons for this: (1) to my knowledge, there is no other book like it available to teachers of government in Wisconsin; and (2) it provides a great deal of basic information on the organization, duties, responsibilities, and other general aspects of government in Wisconsin. It provides this information through its seven chapters which include: (1) Wisconsin: Its Economy, People, and Government; (2) Influencing Your Government; (3) State Government; (4) Counties; (5) Towns; (6) Cities and Villages; (7) School Districts. Through these chapters the book also attempts to answer the following questions concerning state and local government in Wisconsin: * How has Wisconsin government developed over time? * How do the voters or their representatives decide what government will do? * What services does government perform? * How is government organized to carry out these services? * How is money raised and spent for these services? * How can you be involved in your government?
My opinion is that The Framework does a reasonably good job of answering each of these questions.
Since the book consists of only seven chapters and 103 pages, I do not regard it as a text on which an entire course would be based. Rather, as previously noted, it seems intended as a resource on which to base a few units of study on state and local government. Furthermore, since the strength of The Framework is its ability to provide a considerable amount of basic information on Wisconsin governments, a teacher utilizing the book may wish to consider using other sources of information (newspapers, guest speakers) to provide additional examples, more depth, and to better equip students to analyze and discuss issues of local concern.
The Framework is organized in a very user friendly fashion. Each chapter begins with at least four preview questions and a list of key terms, each of which appears in bold print in the text. In addition, each chapter includes numerous subheadings which makes it easier to find specific information. Further, the book contains figures, illustrations, and pictures. Finally, sprinkled throughout the margins of the book are several points of emphasis, many sections entitled "A Closer Look" which provide more detail to something in the text, and several sections entitled "Check it Out" inviting students to explore a particular issue or question in some depth.
As noted earlier, for the first time a separate teacher's manual is available with this edition of The Framework. For each chapter, a series of activities is included which range from issues/questions to discuss as a class, to interviewing a local elected official. In addition, a chapter quiz is provided along with the answers. Finally, an appendix includes information on the county sales tax, how to contact your representatives, and several other reference oriented questions. While useful, I see the teacher's manual as a resource from which each instructor will pick and choose what he or she will use rather than something that is intended to be used in its entirety or not at all. The Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance states in the teacher's manual that it is committed to making the manual as useful as possible. To this end, the Alliance encourages teachers to submit suggestions for improving the manual so that all teachers of Wisconsin government can benefit from your ideas.
Monona Grove High School, Monona