Social science theorists here at the Blaska Policy Research Center and Experimental Work Farm have unveiled their latest proposal for the common good. We propose erecting a series of billboards at the gateways to the city of Milwaukee -- on all the major thoroughfares -- welcoming the world to "Milwaukee, Stupid Town USA."
Yes, Milwaukee is getting more stupid by the day. The city's failed schools are rearing a generation of people who cannot read. Milwaukee, the state's largest city, will go the way of Youngstown, Ohio and Buffalo, N.Y. because it lacks the human capital, the creative genius, the work ethic that once made it great.
The city is being populated by illiterates. People who can't read! So they'll never mind the billboards.
Last week, the National Assessment of Educational Progress revealed that African-American 4th-graders in Wisconsin -- and that means Milwaukee -- read at a lower level than their counterparts in every other state in the nation and the District of Columbia. Mississippi beat us!
Now we learn that Wisconsin's application for federal "Race to the Top" education innovation grants also ranked in the bottom half, "earning the equivalent of a C-minus grade by government reviewers," the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports.
This is embarrassing because President Obama announced the competition here in Madison. Milwaukee's daily newspaper reports:
All of the reviewers noted that few local teachers union leaders in Wisconsin had supported the state's application, and one noted that the statewide teachers union's support seemed "tepid." That was far short of expectations for competitive applications.
"It appears that none of the union leaders in the state's largest districts, which are also those where the most dramatic changes are expected, have demonstrated their commitment to the plans outlined in the state's application," one grant application reviewer wrote.
Education and innovation are fighting words to the most entrenched and reactionary of all bureaucracies -- the teachers union. And the teachers union runs the Democrat(ic) Party. Thanks to a complaisant Democrat(ic) majority in both houses, WEAC was able to beat back all reform legislation. (WEAC spends triple the amount on lobbying spent by the business lobby, WMC.) WEAC did permit one bill to become law, the one lifting the limits on teacher salaries.
Milwaukee's teaching corps is all about stuffing their own pockets. Its school board, elected by less than 10 percent of the population, is controlled by the teachers union. (Think Charlene Hardin).
For that matter, Wisconsin's proposals were themselves tepid, not even approaching true reform.
State Rep. Brett Davis called for passage of a bill he introduced that would allow student assessments to be used to evaluate teachers, without - as a newly passed law requires - mandating that such evaluations be a subject of collective bargaining with teachers unions, the Journal-Sentinel reports.
How about Scott Walker, who proposes:
expanding successful educational options like school choice, charter schools and virtual school programs-particularly in Milwaukee, where students score 21 to 40 points below the state average in reading and math and where 2 out of every 3 kids will not graduate. These programs produce proven academic results, along with satisfied parents, and are widely supported by area employers seeking a well-trained workforce.
That's right: competition! More choices! Don't like your cell phone coverage, choose another provider. But not K-12 education. Sure, you can choose a private school but you are forced to keep paying the old provider. Trust the people!
After eight lethargic years, Jim E. Doyle will not go down in history as the education governor. Time to try something different. Anything!
Dead Idea Walking
Read Alan Borsuk's "Dead Idea Walking" to understand how little Jim E. Doyle and Mayor Tom Barrett could not lead their fellow Democrats out of a one-stalk corn maze.
Both proposed wrenching Milwaukee's public schools away from the entrenched teachers union and its puppet board. It was a classic case of poor political generalship. Borsuk, in the current edition of Wisconsin Interest magazine, says:
Doyle and Barrett rolled out the proposal in a stumbling fashion, with little effort to make a case for the change, with few specific arguments for why they were making the push, and with few allies.
Unions, black community organizations, and left-of-center groups (largely the same array of opponents that has fought the private-school voucher program in Milwaukee) quickly began to hold public events and rally opposition.
... It could have been a real chance to discuss how to energize the deeply troubled MPS system. It could have been a catalyst for re-energizing the whole subject of improving education in Milwaukee. Instead, it became a plodding tour of why things don't change easily in Milwaukee.
Comrade Nichols agrees: "Socialism overtaking U.S."
In the midst of praising Eugene Debs, Norman Thomas, Victor Berger and other American socialists, our John said:
Over the past weekend, half of the Congress of the United States, Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck and Sarah Palin all said socialism was taking over the United States. Who am I to argue with them?" -- John Nichols, speaking at the annual Frank Ziedler lecture in Milwaukee. [Milwaukee Area Labor council: Demons of socialism arise in John Nichols' lecture]
Castro Celebrates U.S. Health Care Reform
It might not be the most desired endorsement, but Cuban leader Fidel Castro is a fan of America's new health care reform. The longtime leader celebrated the vote in an essay, describing the move as a "miracle."
Where is Paul Soglin?
Speaking of Fidel Castro, has Paul Soglin blogged his last? He has not posted a blog on his Waxing (and Waning) America site since March 11. And that one was a-political.
Turns out Soglin took a job with the Wisconsin Housing & Economic Development Department as a Community Relations Officer, full time, at a salary of $70,000 annually. Good thing he's not a Republican. Funny how that works. Maybe his WMC-bashing business wasn't paying the bills. His position is officially described this a way:
This is a professional level class responsible for performing professional level work in promoting and marketing WHEDA financing products to include identifying needs and opportunities, providing education, and facilitating partnerships.
Hmm, does that mean he'll have to make nice with members of WMC? Maybe "facilitate partnerships?" His blog was once king of the hill in these parts until Blaska's Blog muscled into the territory and took over. Paul told Blaska's Blog:
It is best that I not comment on local or state political matters, particularly as it relates to issues of economic development. I expect to resume writing on culture and sports and some national matters once I am comfortable in this new position and have the time.
From now on, I'll quit calling him "Havana Paul." Still, Paul, you wouldn't have a brother who could take over for you? It's been done in other places. Just sayin'.
YOUR WHEDA REPRESENTATIVE IS: PAUL SOGLIN
SERVING Columbia, Dane, Dodge, Fond du Lac, Jefferson, and Walworth counties 414-227-3218 1-800-628-4833 Paul's email address: email@example.com
A comedy laff-riot is coming!
That's right, kids. The squire of the Stately Manor will appear live and in color on Tuesday, April 6, at Kavanaugh's Esquire Club, 1025 N. Sherman Ave. Madison. You won't want to miss our side-splitting analysis, complete with documentary footage and laboratory specimens, of "Why Liberals Can't Think." The fun starts at 6 p.m.
It's part of the Pints & Politics series. No admission charge! Bring a liberal for show and tell! We'll finish our half-hour presentation in plenty of time to witness the changing of the guard as the county board election returns come in when the polls close at 8.
An update: The national tea party tour I referenced in the last Blog will miss Madison but hit Milwaukee, Green Bay and Eau Claire on April 7. But on Thursday, April 15, the Tax-Day Taxpayer Tea Party will be held on the steps of the State Capitol from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm.