Supporting David Blaska (2022 write in) for Madison School Board; Muldrow Campaign messages

Dave Cieslewicz: I’m voting for David Blaska. God help me. But God help us all if we continue down the path laid out for us by the current board without at least someone to challenge the status quo.  Postscript: This is not just a Madison problem. Liberal San Francisco voters recently recalled three hard-left school … Continue reading Supporting David Blaska (2022 write in) for Madison School Board; Muldrow Campaign messages

Commentary on David Blaska’s 2022 Madison School Board campaign, no links, however

Scott Girard: Blaska announced his candidacy in a blog post (link!! not present in the article) on Friday. The longtime critic of the Madison School Board wrote that “Madison voters unhappy with the direction of Madison’s public schools ought to be able to register a protest vote.” He included a list of solutions that is … Continue reading Commentary on David Blaska’s 2022 Madison School Board campaign, no links, however

Madison School Board needs Blaska’s voice (2019 election)

Gary L. Kriewald: It appears we are headed toward a School Board election that promises something new: a candidate whose voice will do more than add sound and fury to the liberal echo chamber that is Madison politics. David Blaska has the background, experience and most importantly the courage to expose the abuses and neglect … Continue reading Madison School Board needs Blaska’s voice (2019 election)

Blaska debates an opponent of parental school choice

David Blaska:

Over the past week, I have been debating one Jeff Simpson over at Forward Lookout, the Progressive Dane-inspired blog site he shares with Madame Brenda and Lukas Diaz. Jeff is an appointed member of the Monona Grove School Board, a defender of teachers unions, an opponent of parental school choice, and a reliable messenger for ever-higher school spending. (Last spring Simpson testified during MG school budget hearings in favor of a $13 million hike in MG school district property taxes.)
I highlight this discourse as an example of the “one-size-fits-all” mentality that controls the education establishment, which is resistant to educational reform. It is a command-control philosophy one would have thought discredited at the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Blaska Blogs the smoking gun of the Madison teachers union’s illegal sick-out

David Blaska:

Only a fool would think that the sick out that closed down Madison schools for five days in February was anything but an illegal, union-coordinated, illegal strike.
But there are a lot of fools in Madison, aren’t there?
Now there is proof that the sickout was a premeditated, union-authorized job action — a phone tree of teachers calling other teachers to close down the schools. This kind of activity is prohibited by the union’s own contract and illegal in WI Statute Chapter 111.84(2)(e):
It is unfair practice for an employee individually or in concert with others: To engage in, induce or encourage any employees to engage in a strike, or a concerted refusal to work or perform their usual duties as employees.
The problem, of course, is finding an impartial prosecutor — but that would require a level of professionalism sorely lacking in the Doyle-appointed incumbent.

Blaska’s Blog says let education compete for business

David Blaska:

Government-run, union-controlled education is as antiquated in 21st Century America as a mimeograph machine and as outdated as the New Deal.
The entire history of this great country is choice — except in the all-important field of education, wherein one size shall fit all.
Imagine an America restricted to one mobile cell phone provider, one television station, never mind cable or satellite, one car insurance company — that is the government-monopoly education system.
Confreres, here is change you can believe in. In the previous blog, I engaged in a colloquy with the delusional Matt Logan, who encourages us law and order types to volunteer for school breakfast. I’m game, but think we’d be welcome?
Imagine the Blaska Man grabbing the empty belt loop of a gangsta wannabe and saying, “Time-out, young fella.”
The kid would laugh at my time out as they laugh at the teachers’ time outs and the squire of Stately Blaska Manor would be brought up on charges of belt-loop grabbing with intent to instill values.

Hey, guilty liberals, how about OK for Madison Prep?

David Blaska:

Nobody does guilt like a Madison liberal! The president of the Madison School Board tells me that I really didn’t make that. All along, I have been swimming in the water of white privilege.
I wish Ed Hughes had told me about white privilege when, growing up on the farm, I was mucking out the old barn with a shovel. I knew I was swimming in something but I didn’t think it was white privilege.
Ed is an honorable public servant, mindful of the dismayingly poor unemployment, incarceration, and graduation rates among people of color here in the Emerald City.
“We white folks pretty much get to set the rules in Madison,” Hughes apologizes. He meant “liberal white folks.” They’ve been running Madison for 40 years, since Paul Soglin first became mayor. It’s 50 years since LBJ’s Great Society. Something besides the Obamacare website ain’t workin’.
Allow this Madison minority — I’m a conservative — to propose a fix: If a crusading young black educator named Kaleem Caire returns to the Madison School Board with a plan for a school focused on tackling minority underachievement, give it a chance! Ed, you voted with the majority to kill Madison Prep.

Much more on the rejected Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School, here.

Advocating Wisconsin School Choice: A Letter to Senator Mike Ellis

David Blaska:

The Madison School Board recently voted 7-0 to encourage the state Legislature to say no to school choice. The surprise would have been had they voted otherwise.
I suspect Madison’s school board is like yours in Neenah and others throughout the state. Given their druthers, they’d just as soon have no competition. Makes management ever so much simpler.
Of course, those who can afford to do so can send their children to private schools – but first they must pay the monopoly school district, or move out of town. What a business model! Kim Jong-un would approve!
Our school board has the firm backing of the teachers union – the same one that unilaterally closed down Madison schools for a week during the Siege of the Capitol in February-March 2011. It should! The union elected them!

Commentary on the Madison School District’s Floated 7.36% Property Tax Increase

Matthew DeFour

Madison School District property taxes for 2013 could increase 7.4 percent under budget recommendations being presented Monday to the Madison School Board.
That would be the biggest percent increase in the district’s property tax levy in a decade. Taxes on an average Madison home valued at $230,831 would total $2,855, a $182 increase from last year.
However, district officials cautioned the numbers likely will change once the state budget is finalized and new superintendent Jennifer Cheatham conducts a review of the district.
“Before I can feel comfortable recommending a tax increase I would want to make sure that every dollar is spent effectively and I can feel confident that the funds that we’re investing are going to pay off for students,” Cheatham said.

David Blaska

Did you get a 7.4% pay raise this year? State employees have forgone a pay raise the last couple years. They had to reach in their pockets to pay new health insurance and pension co-pays. Annuitants covered by the Wisconsin Retirement System have been treading water since 2009. Those who retired nine or more years ago are facing a 9.6% reduction in their pensions. Many of those, ironically, are retired teachers.
Yet the Madison School Board proposes a 1.5% across-the-board pay increase. Actually, reporter DeFour underreported the proposed pay increase. Add another 1% for the “step” increases to account for longevity to equal a 2.5% increase. Almost uniquely among taxpayer-supported employees these days, the district’s teachers still would pay nothing toward their generous health insurance benefits. Job security is nearly guaranteed. Meanwhile, the district acts as bagman for union boss John Matthews, deducting dues from teacher paychecks.
Can we expect the district to end that statutorily forbidden practice when the current contract expires after this June? Let’s hope so, unless the district hides behind Dane County Judge Juan Colas’ Act 10 ruling.
What would get the axe? Parent-teacher conferences. So much for addressing the achievement gap.

Related: Status Quo Costs More: Madison Schools’ Administration Floats a 7.38% Property Tax Increase; Dane County Incomes down 4.1%…. District Received $11.8M Redistributed State Tax Dollar Increase last year. Spending up 6.3% over the past 16 months.

Madison’s public schools go to lockdown mode; no new ideas wanted

David Blaska:

Graphical user interface? I think not, Mr. Jobs. Mainframe is where it’s at. Big and honking, run by guys in white lab coats. Smart phones? iPads? You’re dreaming. Take your new ideas somewhere else.
That is the Madison School Board. It has decided to batten the hatches against change. It is securing the perimeter against new thinking. It is the North Korea of education: insular, blighted, and paranoid.
Just try to start a charter school in Madison. I dare you. The Madison School Board on Monday took three measures to strangle new ideas in their crib:
1) Preserving the status quo: Any proposed charter school would have to have “a history of successful practice.” That leaves out several existing Madison public schools – never mind new approaches.
2) Starvation: Cap per-pupil reimbursement at around $6,500 – less than half what Madison public schools consume.
3) Encrustation: Unionized teachers only need apply.
I spoke to Carrie Bonk, executive director of the Wisconsin Charter Schools Association.

Madison’s disastrous reading results.

The rejected Studio charter school.

Minneapolis teacher’s union approved to authorize charter schools.

“We are not interested in the development of new charter schools”.

Notes and links on the rejected Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School.

Madison School District Open Enrollment Leavers Report, 2012-13.

Madison’s disastrous long term reading results..

Interview: Henry Tyson, Superintendent of Milwaukee’s St. Marcus Elementary School.

Madison progressive political machine hands Scott Walker another school victory

David Blaska:

Congratulations to Madison’s white power elite, especially to Democrats, organized labor, John Matthews and his teachers union. You very well may have elected a teachers union-first (“Collectively we decide …”), children second school board. You also just handed Scott Walker a powerful case for expanding private school vouchers.
What are you afraid of? That more parents might not choose the taxpayer-coerced public school monopoly? What do you expect, when you leave them no (ahem) … choice.
I would like to hold out hope that absentee ballots will make the difference, but 279 votes is probably too many for Wayne Strong to overcome to defeat Dean Loumos, who holds an 18,286 to 18,007 lead. If there are 1,333 absentee ballots that need to be counted, as the city clerk’s website advertises, Strong would have to beat Loumos 806 to 527 in those uncounted votes.
(BTW: Is this the new normal? As absentee voting becomes more popular, winners won’t be declared for a week after the election?)

Much more on the 2013 Madison School Board election, here.

Madison School Board Seat 5 (Sarah Manski, TJ Mertz, Ananda Mirilli); Out of State Fundraising (!), Utility Bill Lawsuit, Candidate’s Spouse Works for the District, Status Quo Comments

Madison School Board Seat 5 Candidate TJ Mertz Sued Twice for Unpaid Utility Bills by WKOW TV.
Missed Campaign Finance Filings: Paging Sarah Manski: You can’t leave for California just yet by David Blaska.
Sarah Manski keeps Nan Brien out of court; reports lots of Green by David Blaska:

She blew through Monday’s campaign finance reporting deadline as blithely as she ran – and then quit – her race for Madison School Board. (“Paging Sarah Manski: You can’t leave for California just yet.”) But Sarah Manski has finally made an honest woman of her treasurer and protector of the union-dominated old guard, Nan Brien.
(The former school board member, nemesis of public schools chartered to address the racial achievement gap, told WKOW TV-27 that her role as treasurer was only as a figurehead. Like Sgt. Schultz, so many in Madison are saying about the Manski campaign: “I knew nothing!”)
The Manski fundraising report filed Friday – four days late – reveals quite the haul in just a few weeks for a local race: $7,733 since Feb. 5 for a race that she ended two days after the Feb. 19 primary election. That makes a total of $11,136 since entering the race in December. That’s a lot of Green! As in very Green green.
Now, if Sarah had been a conservative instead of a professional Walker stalker (see: Wisconsin Wave), The Capital Times would have staged one of its pretend ethics meltdowns about the evils of out-of-state money. An example of their situational ethics is “Pat Roggensack’s out-of-state cash”:

Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Pat Roggensack makes little secret of her ideological and partisan alliances. And most of [her] money is coming from outside Wisconsin.

You want “outside Wisconsin”? How about St. Louis, Mo.; Lansdale, Pa.; N. Hollywood, Calif.; Edina, Minn.; Mishakawa, Ind.; Vancouver, Wash.; Kensington, Md.; Palo Alto, Calif.; New York, N.Y.; Port Orford, Ore.; Flossmoor, Ill.; Sheffield, Mass.; Orange, Calif.; Syracuse, N.Y.; Chevy Chase, Md.; Charleston, S.C.; Chicago, Ill.; Corvallis, Ore.; Saratoga Springs, N.Y.; Redlands, Calif.; Charlotte, N.C.; Austin, Texas; Los Angeles, Calif.; Tampa, Fla.; Boulder, Colo.; San Bernardino, Calif.; Detroit, Mich.; Santa Fe, N.M.; Seattle, Wash.; Carmel, Calif.; Houston, Texas; Philadelphia, Pa.
That is only a partial list of postmarks for “Manski for Wisconsin,” as her Madison School Board campaign was grandiosely named. Yes, when it comes to “outside cash,” John Nichols’ protégés get a pass. Manski collected 107 contributions in the latest reporting period, of which only 32 bore a Madison address, including: MTI boss John Matthews, $50; Mayor Soglin aide Sarah Miley’s husband, $100; and of course, Marj “Somebody Good” Passman, $50.

T.J. Mertz: How did Act 10 prevent you from paying your electric bill, and what about your conflict of interest? by David Blaska

Blaska’s Bring It! finds that Mertz’s spouse, Karin Schmidt, is employed by the Madison Metropolitan School District as a special education assistant at Madison West High School. That necessitates that Mertz recuse himself on such important votes as teacher and staff salary, benefits, working conditions, length of school day and year.
The odd thing is that nowhere on his campaign website does Mertz refer to his wife. He mentions two sons but no spouse. Why is she The Woman Who Must Not Be Named?
“No particular reason why she is not listed there,” Mertz told me today. Seriously? And what about the obvious conflict of interest?
“If elected, I will recuse myself as advised by district legal staff,” Mertz told this blog. I asked what would trigger a recusal. He responded, “As to recusals, I don’t know. I will take the legal advice of the district counsel. You could ask her; I have not yet, as it is not appropriate for her to be giving advice to a candidate.”
Really? You’re running for school board but you don’t know when and on what you can vote?
I have posed the conflict-of-interest issue to MMSD legal staff as well as to the Wisconsin School Board Assn. This being the Easter weekend holiday, answers may not be forthcoming before the election. However, Mertz supporter Bill Keys, the former school board president who banned the Pledge of Allegiance at Madison schools, a year ago declared that school board candidate Nichelle Nichols “will be unable to work fully with her colleagues,” because she was a Madison Urban League employee:

When I served on the board, our attorney instructed me to avoid Madison Teachers Inc. negotiations and not even be in the room during discussions. As a retired teacher, I benefited only from the life insurance policy provided by the district. Even so, discussions or votes on MTI benefits would violate state law.

Continuing to Advocate Status Quo Governance & Spending (Outcomes?) in Madison

Madison School Board Member Ed Hughes:

First, I provide some background on the private school voucher imposition proposal. Next, I list thirteen ways in which the proposal and its advocates are hypocritical, inconsistent, irrational, or just plain wrong. Finally, I briefly explain for the benefit of Wisconsin Federation for Children why the students in Madison are not attending failing schools.

Related: Counterpoint by David Blaska.
Does the School Board Matter? Ed Hughes argues that experience does, but what about “Governance” and “Student Achievement”?
2005: When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.
Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

2009: 60% to 42%: Madison School District’s Reading Recovery Effectiveness Lags “National Average”: Administration seeks to continue its use. This program continues, despite the results.
2004: Madison Schools Distort Reading Data (2004) by Mark Seidenberg.
2012: Madison Mayor Paul Soglin: “We are not interested in the development of new charter schools”
Scott Bauer

Almost half of Wisconsin residents say they haven’t heard enough about voucher schools to form an opinion, according to the Marquette University law school poll. Some 27 percent of respondents said they have a favorable view of voucher schools while 24 percent have an unfavorable view. But a full 43 percent said they hadn’t heard enough about them to form an opinion.
“There probably is still more room for political leadership on both sides to try to put forward convincing arguments and move opinion in their direction,” pollster Charles Franklin said.
The initial poll question about vouchers only asked for favorability perceptions without addressing what voucher schools are. In a follow-up question, respondents were told that vouchers are payments from the state using taxpayer money to fund parents’ choices of private or religious schools.
With that cue, 51 percent favored it in some form while 42 percent opposed it.
Walker is a staunch voucher supporter.

More on the voucher proposal, here.
A close observer of Madison’s $392,789,303 K-12 public school district ($14,547/student) for more than nine years, I find it difficult to see substantive change succeeding. And, I am an optimist.
It will be far better for us to address the District’s disastrous reading results locally, than to have change imposed from State or Federal litigation or legal changes. Or, perhaps a more diffused approach to redistributed state tax dollar spending.

Chicago’s public schools are in shutdown mode

David Blaska:

May explain why former Chicago schools administrator Jennifer Cheatham sought greater opportunities here in Madison. The Chicago school system is closing 61 school buildings to address a $1 billion deficit; 140 of its 681 schools are at least half-empty. (More about that here.)
Might not a tiny voice be whispering to Fighting Ed Garvey, John Nichols, Jeff Simpson, the UW School of Education, and other bitter-enders that perhaps the Chicago teachers union bears some responsibility for a) the financial deficit and b) the flight of students out of the public schools? It was, after all, the Chicago teachers union that walked out on students last September to fight performance measures and a longer school day.
Fighting Ed Garvey is not a stupid man. But he does suffer from labor union fixation disorder. Visit his blog on that subject today and tell me if Ed doesn’t remind you of the guy stocking up on matches as his house burns down. Bad schools are how cities die.

Manski and Democrats used Madison’s minorities as partisan cannon fodder (2013 Madison School Board Election)

David Blaska

Madison Prep was the mouse that roared. How can you explain the fear and loathing Madison’s power elite directed at the Madison Urban League’s proposed charter school?
The Urban League’s Madison Prep charter school would have been just one school amid 50 Madison public schools. It would have taught 800 kids out of 27,000 enrolled in the district. The school board would have retained the ultimate authority to shut it down. So why the sturm und drang over this niche school? Two reasons:
• Because it would have been non-union.
• Because it might have succeeded. The Democratic Party cannot allow one small chink in the solid teachers union barricades.
How else does one explain Sarah Manski’s endorsement from the leader of the State Assembly Democrats, Peter Barca of Kenosha? How else does one explain an endorsement from the leader of the State Senate Democrats, Chris Larson of Milwaukee?
The purpose of the Manski campaign was all about staving off any threat to the teachers union hegemony. The power structure encouraged her to run after Ananda Mirilli, an immigrant Latina who supports the charter school (a public school, by the way), entered the race.
Husband Ben Manski said as much in his notorious December email blast.

Madison Urban League head calls out Manski and Mertz for dishonest school board campaign

David Blaska

Kaleem Caire, president of the Urban League of Greater Madison, is speaking out against the campaign of deception waged against people of color and others who support doing something now about Madison’s yawning achievement gap instead of blaming Gov. Scott Walker.
In a statement issued this week, Caire writes, “As the 2013 Madison school board race continues, we (the Urban League) are deeply concerned about the negative politics, dishonesty and inaccurate discussions that have shaped the campaign. … We are concerned about how Madison Prep has become a red herring ….”
Walker had not even been sworn in as governor when the Urban League proposed establishing a charter school, Madison Preparatory Academy, to address an achievement gap in which barely half of black and Hispanic children graduate from high school in the Madison public schools.
Caire mentioned as the two worst offenders in this campaign of dishonesty T.J. Mertz, candidate for School Board seat #5, and Green Party activist Ben Manski.
Manski’s wife, Sarah, jumped into the seat #5 race hoping to squeeze out an already announced candidate, Latina immigrant Ananda Mirilli. Sarah Manski’s candidacy was apparently encouraged by both Mayor Paul Soglin, who gave her a glowing campaign testimonial, and teachers union boss John Matthews, to whom Soglin referred Sarah Manski. On Dec. 30, Ben Manski blasted an email containing this outright distortion of minority candidate Ananda Mirilli’s position:

Much more on the 2013 Madison School Board election, here.

Ananda Mirilli: I was falsely depicted as pro-voucher

Pat Schneider:

It was a blistering blog last week by conservative David Blaska about the Madison School Board race that also-ran Ananda Mirilli says prompted her to protest that her campaign was a victim of political shenanigans long before Sarah Manski’s jaw-dropping withdrawal from the race.
Blaska called Seat 5 primary winner Manski’s pullout from the School Board race 48 hours after the primary as “so cheap and tawdry it defies explanation” and skewered the local liberal “Tammany Hall” that endorsed her.
Negative reaction to Manski’s move isn’t just coming from the right: “Has Madison politics ever seen such high-handed, self-absorbed behavior as that of leading vote-getter Sarah Manski?” asks former Isthmus editor Marc Eisen in a column.
In the aftermath of Manski’s withdrawal, people have questions. Some are speculating whether there was a conspiracy to recruit Manksi to run, knowing she might drop out, and then replace her on the School Board with a union-friendly pick. “Now we might have a conspiracy of liberals putting a person of color down … what about other conspiracies that people were pegged in to?” asks Mirilli, whose third-place primary finish keeps her off the April 2 ballot.
Mirilli said she doesn’t know what to make of the timing of Manski’s withdrawal: “It’s a coincidence — who knows who is telling the truth? But without a doubt, there was a conspiracy to say that I was pro-voucher,” Mirilli told me Wednesday. “But no one is investigating that.”
Mirilli shared an old email exchange Wednesday, before announcing that she would not pursue a write-in campaign, as many observers had been urging.

The Madison School Board, Experience and our long time Disastrous Reading Results
Much more on the 2013 Madison School Board Elections, here.

Is teachers union boss John Matthews behind the Manski-gate conspiracy?

David Blaska:

The Madison Machine has put the fix in to elect a school board wholly beholden to the teachers union. No one suffers more than the poorly served minority community in Madison. Its candidates are being undermined for the benefit of the insider power structure that has allowed the minority achievement gap to grow to alarming levels.
Madison School Board member Mary Burke supports my suspicions. She says Madison Teachers Inc. president John Matthews is the brains behind Sarah Manski’s Trojan horse candidacy. Whoever is its author, the gambit succeeded in blocking a freethinking minority candidate, Ananda Mirilli, from surviving the front-end-loaded primary, so precipitously concluded.
For the record, John Matthews responded with a monosyllabic “no” mid-Sunday afternoon to my inquiry: “Is Mary Burke correct? Are you the brains behind the Sarah Manski bait and switch?”
So far, School Board member Marj Passman, the union’s most vociferous defender, and a longtime water carrier for the union, is left holding the bag. Matthew DeFour’s fine reportage in Saturday’s Wisconsin State Journal reports this:
Manski said she didn’t plan to run for School Board, but entered the race because Passman and a few other people [my italics] very strongly encouraged her to run. She declined to say who the other people were.

School choice opponents suggest Kaleem Caire is a long-lost Koch Brother

David Blaska:

Previously on Bring It!, we reported on the Left’s campaign of vilification directed at Kaleem Caire.
The Left must discredit Mr. Caire for daring to disrupt the comfortable “Madison Way” by proposing a non-union charter school catering to students of color. He must be politically neutered for pointing out this liberal bastion’s failure to graduate even half of its black students.
But how to disparage the president of the Madison Urban League, the founder of One Hundred Black Men of Madison, and the 2001 recipient of the city of Madison’s Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award?
By the usual and convenient method of tying him to that Great Right-Wing Conspiracy in the Sky. The man for that job is one Allen Ruff. In comments before the school board and on his blog, avidly picked up and repeated by other liberal/progressive outlets, the Madison-based historian and social activist has been spinning an intricate web of guilt by association and seven degrees of separation in order to out Mr. Caire as a closet conservative, a secret tea partier, and a suspect capitalist.

Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.

Conservatives wrecked Madison public schools. Somehow

David Blaska:

For our liberal/progressive acquaintances have run out of excuses. After all, they have owned the public school system, through the teachers union and its Democratic Party subsidiary, for the last 30 years or so.
Nowhere more so than in Madison, Wis., where not a single conservative serves on the 20-member Common Council, where the seven members of the current Madison School Board range on the political spectrum from Left-liberal to Hugo Chavez. (Beth Moss, Marjorie Passman, and Arlene Silveira are Progressive Dane.)
History, not conspiracy: The Left has had its hands on the controls of city government since Paul Soglin beat Bill Dyke in 1973 and the Madison School Board since forever.
Madison’s dominant Left is gagging a fur ball because its public schools have failed the very people liberal/progressives claim to champion. The Madison Metro School District graduates fewer than half – 48% – of its black students and only 56% of its Latinos.
Blacks and Latinos, where would they be without the tender ministrations of the liberal welfare state – living evidence of Republican perfidy! Clucked and cooed over in the tenured parlors of well-meaning West Side liberals – people like Nan Brien, Anne Arnesen, Barbara Arnold, and Carol Carstensen. All four ladies presided over this educational debacle as former Madison School Board members. Despite all evidence, these liberals are not one bit abashed by their failure, so strong is their faith in the powers of more spending and more government.
The Urban League’s school must not be approved, the four women write, because “Madison Prep will not be accountable to the Madison School Board nor to the taxpayers of Madison.” Touching, this sudden concern for the taxpayer. (Madison Prep Academy would cost the school district $17-28 million over five years. Supt. Nerad’s plan would cost $105.6 million over five years.)
Some would say that the Madison School Board has not been accountable to its children of color OR its taxpayers.

Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.

Wisconsin Education Association Council draws flak over its endorsement of Kathleen Falk

Jason Stein & Patrick Marley:

he state teachers union is taking criticism from some members around the state for an early endorsement of Kathleen Falk [blekko] in the likely recall election against Gov. Scott Walker but is sticking with the decision.
Since the announcement of the Falk endorsement, the criticism of it has included a website soliciting signatures to have Wisconsin Education Association Council change its mind.
John Matthews, executive director of Madison Teachers Inc., the second-largest member union within WEAC and a union with members in the heart of Falk’s home county, said the endorsement came before it was clear whether there would be other challengers to Walker. He said his union would wait to make its own endorsement.
“We have a lot of our members who wish they would have waited until all the candidates were known. I think they made the wrong decision but I don’t see how they can get out of it,” Matthews said of WEAC.

David Blaska has more.

Commentary on Wisconsin School Choice Battles

Mike Ford:

A 3,000 plus word article by Bill Lueders in the Capital Times today questions the motives behind legislators that support the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP). Specifically targeted is Rep. Howard Marklein, a freshman legislator from Spring Green who had the gall to not only support school choice in Milwaukee but also to introduce legislation to improve the program.
Lueders quotes Rep. Sandy Pope-Roberts as asking: “What’s in this for Howard Marklein?…If it isn’t for the campaign funds, why is he doing this?”
Perhaps he is doing it because it benefits taxpayers in the 51st Assembly district. As Marklein points out to Lueders, an analysis by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau shows the MPCP is a benefit to his constituents. Without the MPCP, the 15 school districts represented by Rep. Marklein would lose $1.3 million in state aid. The estimate assumes that 90% of students in the MPCP would have no choice but to return to the more expensive Milwaukee Public School (MPS) system if the MPCP was ended. The 90% figure is the number used by the official state evaluators of the MPCP and is based on evidence from choice programs around the country.

David Blaska has more.
TJ Mertz:

This is Take Two in a series. Take One, with a fuller introduction, can be found here. Briefly, the idea of the series is to counter anti-teacher and anti-teachers’ union individuals and “reform” groups appropriation of the phrase “it is all about the kids” as a means to heap scorn and ridicule on public education and public education employees by investigating some of the actions of these individuals and groups in light of the question “is it all about the kids?” In each take, national developments are linked to local matters in relation to the Madison Prep charter school proposal.
Take Two: A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words: Public Lotteries and the Exploitation of Families and Children

School board member Ed Hughes wants to give some docked pay back to Madison teachers (Proposal Withdrawn Later in the Day)

Matthew DeFour:

Hughes is making the proposal [56K PDF Ed Hughes Amendment] as an amendment to the district’s budget.
Funding would come from the $1.3 million windfall the district will get from docking the pay of 1,769 teachers who were absent without an excuse on one or more days between Feb. 16-18 and 21.
The district closed school during those four days because of the high number of staff members who called in sick to attend protests over Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed changes to public sector collective bargaining.
“Under the circumstances it seemed to me the school district shouldn’t necessarily profit from that, because the teachers agreed to make up the time in a way that took away planning time for them,” said Hughes, who is considering a run for school board president when new officers are elected Monday.
Hughes is also proposing increasing the district’s proposed property tax levy for next year by about $2 million to pay for maintenance and technology projects and any costs associated with the district’s implementation of a state-imposed talented-and-gifted education plan.
“It seems goofy that we give away $1 million and then raise property taxes [50K PDF Ed Hughes Amendment],” board member Lucy Mathiak said.

Jay Sorgi:

If a school board member in Madison gets his way, the district would used money it saved when teachers forced schools to shut down during the budget debate to award end of the year bonuses to teachers.
WTMJ partner station WIBA Radio in Madison says that teachers in Madison would receive $200 gift cards as year-end bonuses.
“Whenever we can, we need to show some kind of tangible appreciation for the extremely hard work our teachers and staff do,” said Ed Hughes, a member of the Madison school board.
“They’ve had a particularly tough year as you know, given that they kind of became political footballs in the legislature. We’re ending up slashing their take home pay by a substantial amount, pretty much because we have to.”

Additional links:

Related: 5/26/2005 MTI & The Madison School Board by Ed Hughes.

Madison School District reaches tentative contract agreement with teachers’ union

Matthew DeFour:

The Madison School District has reached a tentative agreement with all of its unions for an extension of their collective bargaining agreement through mid-2013.
Superintendent Dan Nerad said the agreement includes a 50 percent employee contribution to the pension plan. It also includes a five percentage point increase in employees’ health insurance premiums, and the elimination of a more expensive health insurance option in the second year.
Salaries would be frozen at current levels, though employees could still receive raises for longevity and educational credits.
The district said the deal results in savings of about $23 million for the district over the two-year contract.
The agreement includes no amnesty or pay for teachers who missed four days last month protesting Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to strip public employee collective bargaining rights. Walker’s signing of the bill Friday prompted the district and MTI to reach an agreement quickly


A two-year tentative contract agreement has been reached between the Madison Metropolitan School District and the Madison Teachers Union for five bargaining units: teachers, substitute teachers, educational and special educational assistants, supportive educational employees and school security assistants.
District administrators, with the guidance of the Board of Education, and Madison Teacher Inc. reps negotiated from 9 a.m. Friday until 3 a.m. Saturday when the tentative agreements were completed.
Under details of the contract, workers would contribute 50 percent of the total money that’s being contribution to pension plans. That figure according to district officials, is believed to be very close to the 12 percent overall contribution that the budget repair bill was calling for. The overall savings to the district would be $11 million.

David Blaska

I present Blaska’s Red Badge of Courage award to the Madison Area Technical College Board. Its part-time teachers union would rather sue than settle until Gov. Scott Walker acted. Then it withdrew the lawsuit and asked the board for terms. No dice. “Times have changed,” said MATC’s attorney.
The Madison school board showed a rudimentary backbone when it settled a contract, rather hastily, with a newly nervous Madison teachers union.
The school board got $23 million of concessions over the next two years. Wages are frozen at current levels. Of course, the automatic pay track system remains, which rewards longevity.

NBC 15

The Madison Metropolitan School District and Madison Teachers, Inc. have reached tentative contract agreements for five bargaining units: teachers, substitute teachers, educational and special educational assistants, supportive educational employees, and school security assistants.
District administrators, with the guidance of the Board of Education, and MTI reps negotiated from 9:00 a.m. Friday until 3:00 a.m. Saturday when the tentative agreements were completed.
The Board of Education held a Special Meeting today at 2:00 p.m. and ratified the five collective bargaining agreements. The five MTI units must also ratify before the contracts take effect.
Summary of the agreements:

What Does the Governor’s Budget Mean for the Madison School District?

Madison School Board Member Ed Hughes:

The Governor has stated that the cuts in benefits he is imposing on public employees will allow school districts and other governmental agencies to absorb the cuts in state aid that they will sustain without requiring significant layoffs or decreases in services.
Does that claim hold up? Well, for our school district it looks like it might.
If my assumptions are correct, it looks like the big financial hits the Governor wants our teachers to absorb will enable us to make it through the recommended cuts in state aid and in our spending authority without the need for significant layoffs.
I need to emphasize that this conclusion is tentative and certainly subject to revision as I learn more. But this is how I see it now.
School budgeting issues are invariably confusing. The confusion can be reduced a bit if two issues are kept separate. The first is: How much money can we spend? The second: Where will that money come from?

David Blaska has more on Ed Hughes’ blog, here

I will not replicate here Kris Wigdal’s list of boycott targets but here’s the punchline: her list numbers 154 of the leading companies in Wisconsin! Suffice it to say it would be difficult to mow your lawn, do a summer cook out, quaff your thirst, gas up your car, or get medical care unless you do like the Fugitive 14 Senators and go out of state.
Madison school board member says governor’s budget could work
I have long felt that Ed Hughes is probably squarely in the center of the Madison school board — not too hot, not too cold. His take on Governor Walker’s budget as unveiled Tuesday is that it could work for Madison without teacher layoffs:

Unions brought this on themselves

David Blaska:

Let’s face it: Teachers union president John Matthews decides when to open and when to close Madison schools; the superintendent can’t even get a court order to stop him. East High teachers marched half the student body up East Washington Avenue Tuesday last week. Indoctrination, anyone?
This Tuesday, those students began their first day back in class with the rhyming cadences of professional protester Jesse Jackson, fresh from exhorting unionists at the Capitol, blaring over the school’s loudspeakers. Indoctrination, anyone?
Madison Teachers Inc. has been behind every local referendum to blow apart spending restraints. Resist, as did elected school board member Ruth Robarts, and Matthews will brand you “Public Enemy Number One.”
When then-school board member Juan Jose Lopez would not feed out of the union’s hand, Matthews sent picketers to his place of business, which happened to be Briarpatch, a haven for troubled kids. Cross that line, kid!
The teachers union is the playground bully of state government. Wisconsin Education Association Council spent $1.5 million lobbying the Legislature in 2009, more than any other entity and three times the amount spent by WMC, the business lobby.
Under Gov. Doyle, teachers were allowed to blow apart measures to restrain spending and legislate the union message into the curriculum. Student test scores could be used to determine teacher pay — but only if the unions agreed.
The most liberal president since FDR came to a school in Madison to announce “Race to the Top” grants for education reform. How many millions of dollars did we lose when the statewide teachers union sandbagged the state’s application?

Chicago’s Urban Prep Academies Visits Madison: Photos & a Panorama

Students from Chicago’s Urban Prep Academies visited Madison Saturday, 2/26/2011 in support of the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter school. A few photos can be viewed here.
David Blaska:

I have not seen the Madison business community step up to the plate like this since getting Monona Terrace built 20 years ago.
CUNA Mutual Foundation is backing Kaleem Caire’s proposal for a Madison Prep charter school. Steve Goldberg, president of the CUNA Foundation, made that announcement this Saturday morning. The occasion was a forum held at CUNA to rally support for the project. CUNA’s support will take the form of in-kind contributions, Goldberg said.
Madison Preparatory Academy for Young Men would open in August 2012 — if the Madison school board agrees. School board president Maya Cole told me that she knows there is one vote opposed. That would be Marj Passman, a Madison teachers union-first absolutist.
The school board is scheduled to decide at its meeting on March 28. Mark that date on your calendars.
CUNA is a much-respected corporate citizen. We’ll see if that is enough to overcome the teachers union, which opposes Madison Prep because the charter school would be non-union.

“We need entirely different schools to fit the needs of students, not the teachers and administrators,” – Kaleem Caire

David Blaska on the recent Community Conversation on Education:

Caire was one of four main presenters, the others being Madison schools superintendent Dan Nerad, the dean of the UW-Madison School of Education, and — sure enough — Madison Teachers Inc. union president Mike Lipp.
Nerad was o.k. He got off a good line: “Children are the future but we are our children’s future.” He even quoted Sitting Bull but on first reference made certain to use his actual Native American name. This IS Madison, after all.
UW Education Dean Julie Underwood was atrocious — a firm defender of the status quo denouncing the “slashing” of school budgets, “negative ads,” and demanding that the community become “public school advocates.” I.E., the whole liberal litany.
Say, Dean Julie, how about the community become advocates for teaching children — in other words, the goal — instead of a one-size-fits-all, government-ordained delivery mechanism? Isn’t competition the American way?
Union apologist Mike Lipp reminded me of Welcome Back Kotter — looks and mien. He could be humorous (I am certain he is a good teacher) but he spent his allotted time on the glories of that holy grail of education: the union’s collective bargaining agreement. I expected an ethereal light beam to shine down on this holy writ, which Lipp lamented that he did not bring with him. His other purpose was to defuse the powerhouse documentary, “Waiting for Superman.”
Indeed, it was that indictment of public education’s “failure factories” and the hidebound me-first teachers unions that prompted Tuesday evening’s “conversation.” I wrote about it, and Kaleem Caire, here.
When Lipp was finished he returned to his table next to union hired gun John Matthews. No sense in sitting with parents and taxpayers.
When it came time for the participants to respond, one parent said of the four presenters that only Kaleem Caire took to heart the evening’s admonition to “keep students as the focus.” I think that was a little unfair to Nerad, who deserves credit for opening this can of worms, but otherwise right on target.
Caire reported that only 7% of African-American students tested as college-ready on the ACT test. For Latinos, the percentage is 14. Those are 2010 statistics — for Madison schools. In these schools, 2,800 suspensions were handed down to black students — of a total black enrollment of 5,300 students!

Related links: The Madison School District = General Motors; Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman:

“Beware of legacy practices (most of what we do every day is the maintenance of the status quo), @12:40 minutes into the talk – the very public institutions intended for student learning has become focused instead on adult employment. I say that as an employee. Adult practices and attitudes have become embedded in organizational culture governed by strict regulations and union contracts that dictate most of what occurs inside schools today. Any impetus to change direction or structure is met with swift and stiff resistance. It’s as if we are stuck in a time warp keeping a 19th century school model on life support in an attempt to meet 21st century demands.” Zimman went on to discuss the Wisconsin DPI’s vigorous enforcement of teacher licensing practices and provided some unfortunate math & science teacher examples (including the “impossibility” of meeting the demand for such teachers (about 14 minutes)). He further cited exploding teacher salary, benefit and retiree costs eating instructional dollars (“Similar to GM”; “worry” about the children given this situation).

An interview with Kaleem Caire.

DFER Milwaukee Reception for Wisconsin Legislative Candidates 8/30/2010

via a Katy Venskus email

Executive Director
Invites you to a reception honoring three emerging education reform leaders:
State Senator Lena Taylor
4th Senate District
Angel Sanchez
Candidate for the 8th Assembly District

Stephanie Findley

Candidate for the 10th Assembly District
These candidates have committed to support all children in all Milwaukee schools. Please help us show them that education reform supporters in Milwaukee recognize their efforts. With your help we can elect and re-elect committed leaders who will fight for real reform and support more quality options for children and their parents.
Please join us whether you can give $5, $50 or $500 to each candidate!
When: Monday August 30th, 2010
Where: The Capital Grille
310 West Wisconsin Avenue
Time: 5:00 pm-7:00 pm
Refreshments will be served.
Free Valet Parking Provided.
RSVP: Ptosha Davis, DFER WI, 414-630-6637 or

Related: John Nichols notes that Madison Teachers, Inc. endorsed Ben Manski in the 77th District Wisconsin Assembly primary (via a reader’s comment) election (Nichols is President of the foundation that employs Ben Manski, via David Blaska). 77th candidates Brett Hulsey and Doug Zwank kindly spent a bit of time talking about education recently.

A Southwest Area Madison Meeting on Crime, Including A Number of Madison School Officials

David Blaska:

While the mayor and his staff were conspicuously absent, other government institutions were well represented: Madison School Board president Arlene Silveira (middle aged white female) and members Beth Moss, Maya Cole, Marge Passman, Ed Hughes, and three school principals (all middle aged, white, of varying genders). Police Captain Jay Lengfeld (middle aged, white, male) and neighborhood officers Justine Harris (young white female) and John Amos (middle aged white male) attended. So did County Sheriff Dave Mahoney (middle aged white male), which impressed me greatly. As well as a number of alders and county board members, including Ald. Jed Sanborn and Supv. Diane Hesselbein (young white male and female, respectively), who told me she danced with my brother Mike (older white male) at a function in the Dells. (Ald. Pham-Remmele [older asian female] was called away to visit her seriously ill and aging mother [even older asian female] in California.) Did not see The Kathleen. Here’s who else wasn’t there: Bicycle Boy (young, white and stupid)!
The people speak
The very first “citizen” to speak was an Orchard Ridge older white male whom I did not recognize. The fellow bordered on racism when he said “the complexion” of the neighborhood had changed. Perhaps it was just an unfortunate choice of words. “Put the problem people somewhere else,” he demanded. But he was the only person who spoke that way Wednesday night at Falk.
On the other extreme was Lisa Kass (older white female) who (wouldn’t you know it?) is a school teacher. “Just because someone is different doesn’t mean people are bad,” she said, demonstrating a flair for tautologies. Other than the first speaker (arguably), no one alleged different.
Here is the most racist thing your host can say: Let’s have two sets of behavior, one for one race and a lesser standard for another race. That is separate but unequal!
Then Kass (she teaches our children?) committed the sin of moral equivalence. One of the Bill of Rights prohibits loud noise after 10 p.m. weekdays and 11 p.m. weekends.
“Where is the prohibition against leaf blowers at 7:30 in the morning?” she demanded.
Hey, for my money, add it to the list. Pisses me off, too. Still, it is hard to see 200 people taking an hour and a half out of a weekday evening to bitch about leaf blowers and lawn mowers — either in Green Tree or Allied Drive. Hey, at least the blowers and mowers are keeping their properties tidy! Or, is “neat” now prima facie evidence of racism?
Yes, leaf-blowing in the early morning is inconsiderate and annoying but yelling the M-F word is inconsiderate, annoying, obscene, morally offensive, and disturbing.
Then Ms. Kass hand-slapped her seatmate Florenzo Cribbs (young black male), president of Allied Drive-Dunn’s Marsh neighborhood. Prior to the event Cribbs encouraged his e-mail list to attend the meeting. “DON’T LET THE PROWER STRUCTOR THAT ALLOWED THE PROBLEWS CREAT THE RULES FOR TRY TO FIX THE PROBLEMS.”

Notes and Links on Last Week’s Southwest Madison Student Murder

David Blaska mentions that Madison’s Mayor is holding a meeting this morning. The meeting includes Madison School District Superintendent Dan Nerad:

Several landlords have invited the mayor to take up residence on our troubled streets so that he can experience firsthand what many of our neighbors must put up with in their daily lives. Some of them extended the invitation/challenge even before — hours before — the murder. [Let the Mayor come to Meadowood.]
In the meantime, Mayor Dave Cieslewicz has made good on his promise to convene a meeting to deal with the “Lord of the Flies” chaos in certain sections of southwest Madison.
The mayor’s meeting will be held Wednesday morning — exactly one week after Madison woke up to the news that a 17-year-old boy had been shot to death at Leland and Balsam Roads the previous evening, June 9, on the troubled southwest side. Shortly afterward, three 16-year-olds boys were apprehended and charged in connection with his murder — two of them as adults for first degree intentional homicide.
Some of us, including Ald. Pham-Remmele, saw the trouble coming long agI blogged on May 20, quoting a neighbor, “Unless the police are able to get a handle on the roaming gangs, this summer is going to be bloody.” [Going to be a long, hot summer]

A previous post mentioned this:

Police officer Amos said the principal of Toki Middle School will not permit him to arrest children in the school, even though some of them are chronic drug users.
“These people know how to work the system,” said another. Yes, they know their rights but not their responsibilities.

Nearly four years ago, Rafael Gomez organized a Gangs & School Violence forum. The conversation, which included local high school principals, police personnel and Luis Yudice, among others, is worth revisiting.
Related: Police calls near local high schools 1996-2006 and more recent police calls via a map.

WEAC Wisconsin 2008 Legislature Campaign Expenditures in Five Districts: About $2M

David Blaska:

Through Oct. 20, WEAC spent:

  • $539,660 on into the 43rd Assembly District to support freshman Dem Rep. Kim Hixson in his re-match with Republican Debi Towns.
  • The 47th Assembly District north of metro Madison, where it spent $513,132 supporting Dem Trish O’Neil and opposing Republican Keith Ripp.
  • The 68th Assembly District in Eau Claire, where it spent $406,322 supporting Dem Kristen Dexter and opposing GOP Rep. Terry Moulton.

“Which gives us pause. We need educators who aren’t cookie cutter. Because what they’re doing ain’t workin”

David Blaska: Public school bureaucrats talk in a code all their own. According to Abbey Machtig’s excellent account in the Wisconsin State Journal, Gothard promises courses in “critical ethnic studies.” Sounds like emulating higher education’s various grievance studies, which is what got us into this mess in the first place. Teaching victimhood excuses and perpetuates failure. Gothard is quoted … Continue reading “Which gives us pause. We need educators who aren’t cookie cutter. Because what they’re doing ain’t workin”

Should we citizens debate debt (taxes, grandchildren burdens, spending and outcomes)?

A.J. Bayatpour: As MPS asks taxpayers for $252 million in April, I asked (taxpayer funded Milwaukee K-12) Superintendent Keith Posley about national testing data (NAEP) that show Milwaukee 4th graders have been scoring worse than the average big city district for more than a decade (deeper dive). (His response): “We have made things happen for … Continue reading Should we citizens debate debt (taxes, grandchildren burdens, spending and outcomes)?

“The Madison school district is planning to hit up taxpayers for $1 billion — one Billion with a capital B dollars — in referenda over the next 20 years to go carbon neutral”

David Blaska: Someone tell the Madison public schools we need more global warming, not less. The school district is planning to hit up taxpayers for $1 billion — one Billion with a capital B dollars — in referenda over the next 20 years to go carbon neutral.  MMSD can’t teach or keep young Javon safe … Continue reading “The Madison school district is planning to hit up taxpayers for $1 billion — one Billion with a capital B dollars — in referenda over the next 20 years to go carbon neutral”

Madison school district finalists: Two had resigned under criticism

Kayla Huynh: The Madison Metropolitan School District has named two former education administrators and one current administrator as finalists to be the next superintendent. Two of the finalists left their former jobs after facing criticism for their performance. The finalists are Mohammed Choudhury, the former state superintendent of schools at the Maryland Department of Education; … Continue reading Madison school district finalists: Two had resigned under criticism

How about some real diversity instead of the DEI sham that demonstrably does not help Black students?

Mike Nichols: I don’t want to get in the way of the decent idea finally and begrudgingly approved by the Board of Regents as part of the DEI deal — approximately doubling the number of conservatives on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus faculty and adding one more. But I do hope whoever writes up the … Continue reading How about some real diversity instead of the DEI sham that demonstrably does not help Black students?

History (revisionist…?), Governance and Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results

David Blaska: Here in Madison, the proponents of one-size-fits-all government monopoly schooling are rewriting history to cover their misdeeds. The occasion was the recent passing of barely remembered Daniel Nerad, superintendent of Madison public schools between 2008 and 2012.   Capital Times publisher Paul Fanlund marvels that the same problems that beset Nerad a dozen years ago plague the … Continue reading History (revisionist…?), Governance and Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results

Notes on DIE climate and the 2024 Madison School Board election

David Blaska: Madison school board members Savion Castro and Maia Pearson are seeking re-election in April. They are thoroughly Woke. Get 100 signatures to get on the ballot. Nomination papers are not due until January 3. The forms candidates need can be found here even though, strangely, the city’s website has not been updated! Blaska’s … Continue reading Notes on DIE climate and the 2024 Madison School Board election

Higher Ed Governance: “Universities of Wisconsin” edition

David Blaska: There is some irony in the presidents of Harvard and Penn defending campus free speech when that speech calls for the destruction of Israel and, by implication, the extermination of Jews. Given that conservative speakers espousing traditional values have been run off our supposedly most enlightened campuses. The school presidents did such a poor … Continue reading Higher Ed Governance: “Universities of Wisconsin” edition

Learning loss and the teacher unions

David Blaska: The teachers union laid down a gauntlet of demands — over two dozen! — before they would return, including (Surprise! Surprise!) that teachers union default: More Money, aka “hazard pay.” Socialist provocateur John Nichols had their back. When a former governor encouraged schools to reopen for in-class instruction, Comrade Nichols lit the match: “Scott Walker is exploiting the pandemic … Continue reading Learning loss and the teacher unions

Lawfare and school choice

David Blaska: Who is behind the lawsuit seeking to bring down Wisconsin’s school choice program that helps 52,000 low-income, often minority students, escape failing public schools? Guy named Kirk Bangstad.  Killing school choice is written into the Democrat(ic) party platform. Obeisance to the teachers union and the one-size-fits-all government school monopoly is central to Woke progressivism. … Continue reading Lawfare and school choice

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Madison Tax & $pending growth

David Blaska “The city council will soon vote on this year’s budget. Mayor Satya claims it is “responsible” and blames state lawmakers for our city’s problems. Don’t be fooled. The mayor is trying to hide the truth — this budget shortchanges our community. Mayor Satya will try to mislead you with claims that don’t match the facts.” Reyes is fronting an organization … Continue reading K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Madison Tax & $pending growth

Notes on taxpayer funded Madison K-12 Governance

David Blaska For all practical purposes, Jennifer Cheatham remains the superintendent of Madison WI public schools. She left four years ago for Harvard University (where 32 student groups announced their support for Hamas terrorism). Her mission: clone more ultra-Woke school chiefs like herself. (“Areas of expertise: diversity, equity, and inclusion.”)  Matters not that teachers hate it, Cheatham’s race-forward … Continue reading Notes on taxpayer funded Madison K-12 Governance

Commentary on another Madison K-12 Superintendent Search // Priorities

Dave Cieslewicz: I’m not at all surprised.  The executive search group chosen to help find the next Madison schools superintendent reflects the biases of our current school board. The very first statement you see in the About section of the website of Alma Advisory Group out of Chicago is that it is, “is a woman-of-color-led … Continue reading Commentary on another Madison K-12 Superintendent Search // Priorities

9 Citizens at a Madison School District Superintendent Search “roundtable”

David Blaska: Once every blue moon, the Head Groundskeeper does what he says he is going to do. Posing as average citizen “David Blaska,” he sat in with eight other citizens at one of three roundtables coordinated 10-04-23 by the headhunters hired by the Madison public school district to find yet another a new superintendent. … Continue reading 9 Citizens at a Madison School District Superintendent Search “roundtable”

Notes on K-12 $pending and Governance: Wisconsin Edition

David Blaska: Jill Underly is Wisconsin’s superintendent of public instruction. The position is elected for four years on the Spring non-partisan ballot along with city alders and circuit court judges. We are one of only 12 states to elect them. One of Jill Underly’s predecessors was Tony Evers, now governor of Wisconsin. A Democrat. If … Continue reading Notes on K-12 $pending and Governance: Wisconsin Edition

Notes on the University of Wisconsin’s Budget

David Blaska: Not even cows are sacred in Wisconsin, anymore. They’re being blamed for global climate change and funky ground water. But at least three sacred cows remain: The Packers, deer hunting season, and — among progressives — the University of Wisconsin.  Dare question UW system spending and you are labeled a poor man south of Richmond. Who … Continue reading Notes on the University of Wisconsin’s Budget

“The problem is the amount of risk that I take, that the district avoids.”

David Blaska: Big hulking 17-year-old was roaming the halls for 2 ½ hours. School brass is monitoring. Situation escalating. Student told to go to the principal‘s office. Kid threatens violence. Kid stands 6-feet 4-inches, weighs 230 pounds. Saffold removes his glasses to avoid injury. Assisted by other school employees, takes the student to the floor. … Continue reading “The problem is the amount of risk that I take, that the district avoids.”

Governance Reform and taxpayer funded censorship

Philip Wegman: “We’ve seen throughout this country that the DOJ and the FBI are controlled by one faction of our society,” DeSantis said on the call, pointing to how those agencies were “going after pro-life activists,” wrongfully investigating parents at school board meetings “who are concerned about things like critical race theory, and forcing kids … Continue reading Governance Reform and taxpayer funded censorship

Notes on DIE $pending at the University of Wisconsin

David Blaska: Requiring prospective employees to attest to their DEI faithis a prohibited political test, President Rothman told legislators. “If people think we are imposing litmus tests on them at that stage in the employment process, we are not being inclusive,” he said. “We need to be inclusive.” Doubtless, the UW system boss was responding to Assembly Speaker Robin … Continue reading Notes on DIE $pending at the University of Wisconsin

Notes on DIE Bureaucracies

David Blaska: “The governor’s request comes at a time when diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs are under fire in higher education, business, and in government for fundamental unfairness and divisiveness and a failure to achieve their intended goals,” the Badger Institute notes. The University of Wisconsin-Madison is riddled with DEI bureaucrats.Madison’s flagship campus has an entire … Continue reading Notes on DIE Bureaucracies

Legacy Media endorses “critical race theorist”

David Blaska: The Squire of Stately Blaska Manor did the Danny Thomas coffee spray Sunday morning. In that long-ago sitcom, originally called Make Room for Daddy, his missus would relate some catastrophe and the comedian, mid-sip at breakfast, would spray Maxwell House into the atmosphere.  The Wisconsin State Journal, the state capital’s newspaper of record, Sunday 04-02-23 endorsed Blair Mosner Feltham for … Continue reading Legacy Media endorses “critical race theorist”

“The MS (Madison) grading scale converts all failing students to a grade of D”

David Blaska: One of the candidates will help choose a new superintendent. Pray God it is not another terminally Woke clone of Jennifer Cheatham!Which it will be if Feltham is elected. She’s the one who says “Our schools are products of white supremacy.” Of course, she is endorsed by the teachers union and the Defund the Cops Capital Times. … Continue reading “The MS (Madison) grading scale converts all failing students to a grade of D”

Notes on violence in Madison’s taxpayer supported schools

David Blaska: Surveys revealed a terrifying situation throughout Madison’s school district brought on by an overly permissive environment. Students complained of “too many fights,” and feeling “unsafe in hallways, common areas, bathrooms and buses.” Bullying has become a major problem. It was mentioned 450 times in the survey responses. Students attribute these problems to an environment with “no … Continue reading Notes on violence in Madison’s taxpayer supported schools

Notes on Madison’s K-12 Governance Climate

David Blaska: Blaska’s Bottom Line: Used to be that some fairly accomplished individuals sought to serve in public office. Think of Mary Burke, former executive with the Trek bicycle company, and James Howard, an economist with the U.S. Forest Products Laboratory, not that long ago. On the other hand, they hired Jennifer Cheatham! More. Scott … Continue reading Notes on Madison’s K-12 Governance Climate

Curious Legacy Media school “letter to the editor” policy

David Blaska: Blaska’s Bottom Line asks a bunch of questions: The Wisconsin State Journal refuses to publish Blaska’s letter asking Madison school officials whether, after eight years, is Restorative Justice working?Especially considering we have another school board election on the April 4 ballot. Editorial page editor Scott Milfred complained: “It was long …” [It was 245 words — exact … Continue reading Curious Legacy Media school “letter to the editor” policy

A Wisconsin K-12 Governance wish list

David Blaska: 1) Amend the Wisconsin Constitution to place the Department of Public Instruction in the governor’s appointive cabinet rather than as an elected office. Education should sit at the same table with the governor as transportation, natural resources, prisons, public health, and revenue. 2) Revise the criminal code to automatically charge custodial parents or guardians with a crime … Continue reading A Wisconsin K-12 Governance wish list

Madison Sennett’s (restored) principal does not need re-education

David Blaska: Are we supposed to rejoice that the board of education 12-02-22 unfired the principal of Sennett middle school? How generous! What tender mercies! After three months of banishment and besmirched reputation, Principal Copeland must endure further punishment. • A letter of reprimand in his P file. • Docked three weeks pay. • And most humiliating of … Continue reading Madison Sennett’s (restored) principal does not need re-education

Madison K-12 Governance & School Safety

David Blaska: Because our Woke school boss confuses correlation with causation. Like all good critical race theorists, he’s big on disproportionality. If A doesn’t equal B, he goes all Al Sharpton.  Today’s subject is time outs in an empty room for troublemakers or, rarely, restraint. Restraint being just holding back a kid so he doesn’t bust another … Continue reading Madison K-12 Governance & School Safety

Principal Gone missing in Madison’s public schools: Where is Jeffrey Copeland?

David Blaska: Former Madison mayor Dave Cieslewicz asks those questions this morning (well, not the last one). So should anyone concerned about Madison’s young people. Jeffrey Copeland was the principal of Sennett middle school until removed two weeks ago. He apparently left the district completely this past Monday 09-26-22. Why? That’s what parents and faculty … Continue reading Principal Gone missing in Madison’s public schools: Where is Jeffrey Copeland?

Did Woke Madison help murder Beth Potter and Robin Carre?

David Blaska: This Wednesday 09-07-22, Khari Sanford will be sentenced in Dane County Circuit Court for the execution-style slaying of Dr. Beth Potter and her husband Robin Carre. They were murdered by a person they had tried to help,” their memorial obituary reads. Khari Sanford was 18 years old on March 30, 2020 when he entered the … Continue reading Did Woke Madison help murder Beth Potter and Robin Carre?

Reading, writing, arithmetic — and social justice!

David Blaska: But you’re a Loony Toons cartoon if you believe critical race theory is not taught in the public schools (as does WI State Journal education reporter Elizabeth Beyer). The unionized teachers in Madison WI are obsessed with corrosive identity politics and taxpayers are helping pay for it! Their militant-left labor union, Madison Teachers … Continue reading Reading, writing, arithmetic — and social justice!

Race and the Taxpayer Funded Madison School District

David Blaska: If you doubt that the Woke Wobblies have taken over Madison’s public schools, we submit the following: School board president Ali Muldrow and immediate past member Ananda Mirilli are accusing Ismael Ozanne, a black man, of racism most foul. They want him to resign (!!!) because police arrested Freedom Inc. spokesperson Jessica Williams … Continue reading Race and the Taxpayer Funded Madison School District

Notes on Madison’s School Safety Committee

David Blaska After reading the committee’s meeting summary, a liberal acquaintance tells the Werkes the committee does not intend to address student disruption. “Instead they are only embarking on one extended gab fest, seeking comments from a very carefully curated list of like-minded stakeholders in order ‘to collectively create a shared vision and shared values for … Continue reading Notes on Madison’s School Safety Committee

Censoring a free speech survey

David Blaska Now the Woke posse is trying to hogtie a student surveythat attempts to quantify how free is speech at Wisconsin’s public universities. The interim chancellor at UW-Whitewater resigned rather than have his campus exposed as a cynosure of Leftist groupthink. Student government leaders like the anti-police regime at UW-Madison also want the survey … canceled. … Continue reading Censoring a free speech survey

Always interesting 2022 Madison School Board Election Agitation, via SMS

David Blaska has launched a write-in campaign for this seat, supported by former Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz. Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health. The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic” 2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the … Continue reading Always interesting 2022 Madison School Board Election Agitation, via SMS

2022 taxpayer supported Madisin School Board Candidate Forum

Simpson Street Free Press, via Dylan Brogan: Ali Muldrow largely defended the Madison school district’s current policies while David Blaska levied broad criticism at the district’s focus on “creating anti-racist school culture and curriculum.” “If we stopped telling people that Madison is racist, if we stopped teaching that some kids succeed all because of privilege, I think … Continue reading 2022 taxpayer supported Madisin School Board Candidate Forum

Notes on taxpayer supported K-12 Governance in Madison.

David Blaska: Blaska’s beef is that ex-mayor Dave accuses Republicans of cynically playing the culture wars purely for political gain while doing exactly that himself. “Republicans aren’t raising these issues at every opportunity because they really care about kids or parents one way or the other. They’re exploiting these things because they see a hot political issue that they can … Continue reading Notes on taxpayer supported K-12 Governance in Madison.

Notes on taxpayer supported Madison Schools curriculum and media perspective

David Blaska: Thanks to the Simpson Street Free Press for hosting a Madison school board debate Thursday 03-17-22. We’ll include the link when it is posted. Must admit, was taken aback by the Wisconsin State Journal’s question. Reporter Elizabeth Beyer asked Blaska which classrooms are teaching critical race theory?Suppose she wanted your write-in candidate for Seat #4 to rat … Continue reading Notes on taxpayer supported Madison Schools curriculum and media perspective

Advocating a “study on stupidity”: Madison school crime edition

David Blaska: Were they just hoping problem would go away? Now the Madison school board is developing a committee to study school safety. NOW? Today? Five months after a widespread brawl at East high school induced one-third of the student body to shelter at home for safety? Two years after defunding school resource police officers? And all the … Continue reading Advocating a “study on stupidity”: Madison school crime edition

“She’s not a fan of charter schools outside the control of the district” (achievement…..)

Wisconsin State Journal Commentary Two other seats on the board are mostly uncontested. Nichelle Nichols, a former Madison School District administrator whom we’ve endorsed in the past for School Board, will do a fine job filling Seat 5.  For Seat 4, incumbent Ali Muldrow is the only name on the ballot, with conservative agitator David Blaska making a … Continue reading “She’s not a fan of charter schools outside the control of the district” (achievement…..)

Madison schools outcomes and “Restorative Justice” notes

David Blaska: It’s heart-breaking, it really is. Two Madison teenagers took different paths. Anthony Chung was a National Merit Scholar at Memorial high school, student representative to the Board of Education, about to graduate from elite Georgetown University. With him in the car the night of 09-12-20 on Mineral Point Road was the former classmate he … Continue reading Madison schools outcomes and “Restorative Justice” notes

Madison school governance climate amidst long term, disastrous reading results

David Blaska: One conclusion from the first debate among candidates for Madison school board: Stop blaming COVID for our failing schools and own up to what we’ve done to our kids. Covid was the cover story school board president Ali Muldrow spun for the on-going chaos in Madison’s classrooms. (Another brawl at East high school Monday 02-21-22.) But … Continue reading Madison school governance climate amidst long term, disastrous reading results

Commentary on Wisconsin K-12 Curriculum and Taxpayer Governance

David Blaska: Critical race theory denialists trot out the same university professors who promote CRT to confirm that mom and dad are unwitting pawns of the Republican Borg (as the WI State Journal did.) It’s like asking Putin what day he plans to invade. CNN asked a Columbia University professor to put San Francisco voters under … Continue reading Commentary on Wisconsin K-12 Curriculum and Taxpayer Governance

2022 Write in candidate for the taxpayer supported Madison School Board

David Blaska David Blaska is running for Madison school board after all. No, his name won’t be on the ballot because he is a write-in for Seat #4. That’s the one occupied by school board president Ali Muldrow. We were opponents three years ago and Ali (truly a lovely young lady in many ways) beat me handily. … Continue reading 2022 Write in candidate for the taxpayer supported Madison School Board

Notes on discipline and character in the taxpayer supported Madison K-12 school district’s governance

David Blaska: Spot quiz: What word will not be spoken by any of Madison’s candidates for school board? Time’s up! Groucho Marx’s secret word is “discipline.” Discipline is defined as “training to act in accordance with rules; activity, exercise or a regimen that develops or improves a skill.” Discipline is the sine qua non (more Latin) of education. Mathematics, language, … Continue reading Notes on discipline and character in the taxpayer supported Madison K-12 school district’s governance

Teacher Unions vs Parents and Children: political commentary

Dana Goldstein and Noam Scheiber: Few American cities have labor politics as fraught as Chicago’s, where the nation’s third-largest school system shut down this week after teachers’ union members refused to work in person, arguing that classrooms were unsafe amid the Omicron surge. But in a number of other places, the tenuous labor peace that … Continue reading Teacher Unions vs Parents and Children: political commentary

Notes on taxpayer supported Madison K-12 School District Crime and achievement governance

David Blaska: Neighbors here on the SW side are outraged that the so-called safety coordinator for our public schools blows off police trying to track down kids showing off their illegal firearms in a stolen car a block away from Madison East high school. Doesn’t return their phone calls. Refuses to share photographic evidence with … Continue reading Notes on taxpayer supported Madison K-12 School District Crime and achievement governance

Notes on the taxpayer supported Madison School District Administration’s recent Police interactions

David Blaska: We can draw no conclusion other than that the school district’s head of security sandbagged police in furtherance of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. MMSD describes Aguglia as “committed to teaching and coaching educators in evidence-based critical response with alternative forms of mental health support as a tool to reduce violence in school buildings, promote mental … Continue reading Notes on the taxpayer supported Madison School District Administration’s recent Police interactions

Madison schools’ war on discipline

David Blaska: Yet students of color continue to be disproportionately disciplined. “The simple fact is this: black boys do commit more violent offenses in public schools than other kids,” acknowledges John McWhorter, in his book Woke Racism. You want “equity”? According to MMSD data from 2017-18, 59% of disciplinary actions were taken against boys, even … Continue reading Madison schools’ war on discipline

Commentary on taxpayer supported Madison Schools Governance and Safety Climate

Elizabeth Beyer: Travis Dobson, a parent of two East students and an assistant varsity football coach, said the school is out of control and the building administration is under an all-hands-on-deck situation constantly. He said he has another child who is nearing high school age but he is considering taking his children out of the … Continue reading Commentary on taxpayer supported Madison Schools Governance and Safety Climate

curriculum and the taxpayer supported Wisconsin DPI

David Blaska: Let’s have no more nonsense that critical race theory is not being taught in our schools. Looking at you, John Nichols, for writing “CRT is nothing more than dishonest right-wing talking points.” Prof. John McWhorter of Columbia University would disagree. First, let’s define our terms. No, it isn’t about teaching the history of slavery or racial oppression. … Continue reading curriculum and the taxpayer supported Wisconsin DPI

Civics: Not since 2013 has a judgeship been contested

David Blaska: Dane County WI has 17 circuit court judges; they are elected in the non-partisan Spring (April 5) elections to six-year terms. Job pays $130,00 annually. (Another 11 court commissioners set initial bail at arraignment court. They are appointed.) They are largely faceless; they rarely face opposition on the ballot. Not since 2013 has a … Continue reading Civics: Not since 2013 has a judgeship been contested

Madison School discipline plan omits police, rewards analysis paralysis

David Blaska: The influential Ann of Althouse, retired UW Law school professor and bloggueresse, asks “Why don’t schools call the police when crimes are committed in school?” The short answer is that Madison WI schools a year ago enlisted in the War on Police.With the connivance of Madison’s woke city government, the school board evicted … Continue reading Madison School discipline plan omits police, rewards analysis paralysis

With no cops, student fighting roils Madison’s high schools

David Blaska: Now WMTV-15 is showing student-captured smart phone video of fights, including a one-sided assault at Madison East high school. The latter shows a Madison East sophomore attacked by two other students who ran into his classroom as he sat in the front row. It appears they were not fellow classmates but entered the classroom to … Continue reading With no cops, student fighting roils Madison’s high schools

“deconstructs the faith-based progressive dogma of Critical Race Theory”

David Blaska: Damn! Dave Cieslewicz is just killing it over at his blog. (No wonder the armadillos are dead.) In today’s installment, he deconstructs the faith-based progressive dogma of Critical Race Theory.  Not just a theory in the Emerald City. The governance of our city, county, and public schools adhere to this neo-Marxist “construct” as … Continue reading “deconstructs the faith-based progressive dogma of Critical Race Theory”

Who is running Madison’s schools? Chicken Little?

David Blaska: What are we missing here? Madison’s public schools refuse to reopen its 52 school buildings for in-classroom teaching. They’ve been largely shuttered since last March. What teaching remains is conducted on-line, via computer. Madison is expecting four inches of snow today 02-04-21, so classes have been cancelled.  Huh?! You heard right. MMSD is canceling … Continue reading Who is running Madison’s schools? Chicken Little?