I've never seen a yard sign quite so creative as that posted by long-shot Republican congressional candidate Chad Lee. This one stands at the intersection of Verona Road and Williamsburg Way in Fitchburg. There's some creative thinking going on over there.
Congratulations to John Matthews, Dave Zweifel, Ed Garvey, John Nichols, Marj Passman, and all Madison "progressives." You win. Michelle Rhee is stepping down as chancellor of Washington D.C. schools. Reform has been averted in yet another school district. Union jobs are safe! CNN reports:
[Rhee's] time in office included successes in the form of higher test scores for D.C. students and a win in the second round of Race to the Top, a federal education program that provides funds to states that have innovative plans in education.
However, Rhee also frustrated the school system's teachers with layoffs for those who didn't meet new evaluation criteria. Both local and national teacher unions fought her changes.
The teachers unions spent $1 million to influence the outcome of the D.C. mayor's race. Once again, unionized teachers win! Students lose.
Which is a reminder that the documentary "Waiting for Superman" opens today at the Sundance Theater at Hilldale shopping center. Showtimes at 1:45, 4:30, 7 and 9:15 p.m. also 11:45 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.
"Superman" features Rhee as a key voice in advocating for school reform. I wrote about it here.
I queried all seven Madison School Board members with this question:
Do you plan to watch the documentary movie "Waiting for Superman," which starts October 15 at Sundance Cinemas in the Hilldale shopping center?
Ed Hughes, Arlene Silveira, Marjorie Passman, Maya Cole, James Howard, and Beth Moss say yes, they will watch the award-winning documentary. Not responding: Lucy Mathiak. Lucy, let's be friends.
This is Marj Passman's response:
I read everything I can on education and as a former teacher, search all I can for current information on the topic. If this includes "Waiting for Superman", then I will see it. Madison is not Washington DC and if we had selected a Superintendent Rhee, you would now be spending most of your time ducking the community warfare we would have created. This city of ours wants to work together with the schools and we have a Strategic Plan that was written by them. This is the approach I value as a Board Member.
In other words, she does not want to piss off the teachers union.
In his largely negative (and therefore politically correct) review in the current Isthmus, Kenneth Burns repeats the adage that "a conservative is a liberal who got mugged" but leaves off the rest of the quote. It is "mugged ... by reality."
A fate, which, apparently, Ken Burns has escaped.
Burns excuses the D.C. teachers union for not allowing a vote on Rhee's merit pay proposal because "the policy would have divided teachers." Yes, democracy and voting sometimes do that. Yet, teachers vote on contracts all time. Some vote against, some vote for. Majority rules.
A supposed failing of the movie, according to Burns, is that it does not note that New York abolished its "rubber rooms" full of idle teachers at full pay awaiting disciplinary hearings. Perhaps because the notorious rooms were only abolished this year after they were exposed by crusading journalists. Burns writes:
What the agreement [to abolish the rubber rooms] confirms is that reform is possible, even when it comes to teachers unions.
That's like saying the crook used to rob banks until he was caught.
Speaking of education, Madison schools superintendent Dan Nerad told the Wisconsin State Journal he is forming a task force to come up with "creating more charter schools, magnet schools, and schools-within-schools - in part to help keep middle-class families in the district."
The goal is for the district to generate proposals for innovative schooling, rather than being "reactive" to outside groups ... Nerad said.
But that is where the truly innovative ideas come from ... outside groups, not the education establishment. Go ahead and react to those outside ideas! That is how the American success story got written: the competition of ideas!
Gangsta Rap at the White House
"Not all blacks are delighted with the caliber leadership our liberal ruling class has seen fit to install in the White House," according to one of my favorite web sites.
Here's what the President of the United States listens to on his iPod (sorry about the language):
A young nigga screaming fuck the world and let 'em die
Behind tints, tryna' duck the world and smoking rie
Got my bandanna 'round my head and pants to my feet
And got my eyes fire red and glock on my seat
I'm tryna' stay under intoxication
There's more but it's too depressing. In the New York Daily News, Stanley Crouch writes:
Last week, Thomas Chatterton Williams, author of "Losing My Cool: How a Father's Love and 15,000 Books Beat Hip-Hop Culture," gracefully tore President Obama a new one. A member of the hip-hop generation, Williams is one of those who are intensely critical of the violence, drug dealing, misogyny and crude materialism that distinguish hip hop...
Here's a better narrative: It is 1964. Her parents take their 10-year-old daughter to a drive-in restaurant, newly open to black people because of the Civil Rights Act, enacted only weeks earlier. But there is something wrong with the hamburger she is served; there's nothing but onions between the buns. The parents persevere: they expose their daughter to sports, literature, music and art. The little girl is Condoleeza Rice, secretary of state, now on the faculty of Stanford University. She recounts her story in her memoir, "Extraordinary, Ordinary People." It's reviewed in the Wall Street Journal.
Can we get the Madison schools to assign THIS book?
Continuing my long shot theme
The Wisconsin Radio Network reports that a Clark County judge says Wisconsin's ban on carrying concealed weapons -- one of only two states that do so in the nation (Illinois is the other) -- is unconstitutional.
In the case, authorities charged a Sauk City man with carrying a concealed weapon, after he admitted he had a knife in his waistband. He never threatened anyone. In light of the landmark Supreme Court ruling in McDonald v. City of Chicago, attorney William Poss filed a motion to dismiss the case on constitutional grounds. Judge Jon Counsell obliged Wednesday, ruling the law is overly broad and violates both the Second and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution. ...
Poss expects the case will be appealed. "It's ultimately going to get to either the Wisconsin Supreme Court and or the United States Supreme Court one way or another," he predicted.
Or we can vote Scott Walker on November 2. That would do the job more expeditiously.
More for Scott Walker's to-do list:
Wisconsin ranks 43rd in the nation for its business climate, according to Forbes magazine. Utah, Virginia, North Carolina, Colorado and Washington are the top 5. Not bad places to live, either.
Another Blaska's Blog service
If you came here from reading Madame Brenda, click here to clean the inside of your computer screen.
Taking dead aim
Are Democrats running against ObamaCare? Yes, and in West Virginia, suddenly endangered (if not exactly a long shot) Joe Machin shoots long against Cap 'n Trade.