Commentary on Madison’s School Climate

Alan Talaga:

I think the Wisconsin State Journal’s editorial board is generally pretty fair. The editorials, mostly written by editor Scott Milfred, come from a fiscally-conservative, socially-liberal perspective. While I often disagree with their views, I admire their principled stance on marriage equality and transparency in all levels of government.

Sometimes the State Journal spills ink tilting at windmills like suggesting Walker and legislative Republicans were seriously going to consider redistricting reform, even when the latest round of redistricting gave the GOP a 10-year lock on control of the Assembly. Other times, they dilute their message a bit by trying a bit too hard to be even-handed.

However, those attempts at even-handedness go out the window when it comes to teachers’ unions, with Madison Teachers Inc. as the State Journal’s primary target. I, myself, have many criticisms of MTI, but the editorial board has handpicked them to be public employee boogeyman number one.

I would think that the elimination of almost every single teacher’s union in the state would make for a less tempting target, but this editorial board still feels a need to take weird potshots at MTI.

A couple of weeks ago, the State Journal ran an editorial in support of year-round schools, which is a good idea that I wholly support. But then much of the editorial suggested that MTI was the reason we don’t have any year-round school programs in Madison.

“Badger Rock Middle School is a good example of why the district should insist on more options with its teachers,” it read. “Badger Rock is a charter school that employs union teachers, so it follows the traditional school calendar.”

This seemed odd to me, as I had never read anything about MTI being opposed the idea of year-round schools. Obviously, I remember their opposition to Madison Prep, but that’s involved a ton of issues.