Well this is a shocker - not the message but the messenger.
Madison's public schools are bleeding students to surrounding districts - particularly Verona, Monona, McFarland and Middleton - because parents want to escape the Madison schools' drug abuse, violence, gangs and negative peer pressure.
During the last school year (2008-09), 456 students left the district while only 168 sought to get in under the open enrollment process, which allows parents to send their children to schools outside of their school district of residence. That is a 3-1 ratio of students escaping compared to those sending their children in. It's all the more impressive when one factors that these parents must pay the transportation costs.
Those free-market decisions are costing the Madison School District $6,225 for each kid lost to other schools.
The Madison district did a survey - congratulations to new Superintendent Dan Nerad - and found that 61 percent cited classroom chaos and crime as the reason they pulled their kids. In other words: no discipline!
I'm serious folks, if the only thing that school taught was discipline, that school would be a success. You cannot learn, you cannot read, you cannot play a decent game of hoops without learning discipline. It is other-directed. It delays gratification towards attaining a larger goal at some future date. It is the foundation of success.
Those of us who know what is going on in Toki Middle School here on the southwest side could have predicted that. In fact, Toki leads the pack in student flight (I am told by someone who has closely examined the numbers). The only shocker is that this story is being reported in today's on-line The Capital Times.
A parent whose sixth- and ninth-grade children transferred to the Verona Area School District wrote that the poverty level in the Madison district has increased so dramatically that it's affecting what is offered to students. Inappropriate behaviors have become "the norm," robbing teaching time, which means less focus on learning, the parent wrote.
"We had an interest in knowing ideas from people that had made the decision for open enrollment," Nerad says. "We are attempting to learn from those experiences to see if there are some things as a school district that we can constructively do to address those concerns."
Nerad and the school board have been invited to the Wednesday, August 26, "Neighborhoods Restoring Safety" meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. at Falk Elementary School, 6323 Woodington Way.
The Capital Times article is also worth reading for the many comments posted after the article. This one is typical:
I've only got experience in one middle school -Toki - but yeah, there's no way I'd put my kid in a Madison public school. Bad administrators, too many bad teachers, a teachers union that sucks funds into salaries for teachers and out of facilities and programming, a district that spends more time/energy denying the presence of gangs/drugs/violence than working to fix it. Of course, none of these problems are limited to Madison, this is stuff that every school in the nation faces, but in Madison the district is ignoring the problems. We need better security, better teacher/admin accountability, better curriculum, etc etc etc. We have teachers and staff hiding in their rooms while hallways descend into violent anarchy. We've got principals who sit in their offices, detached so much from their surroundings that faculty and staff no longer bother to request assistance. We've got a district that, after receiving massive complaints from teachers/staff about at least one school's safety situation, sat back and did nothing meaningful. ...
Parents, did you know you can transfer your children under open enrollment? Get the forms on the Department of Public Instruction website.
Madame Konkel backs Section 8
I have written repeatedly that we cannot solve our crime and deteriorating quality of life issues here in Madison without solving the Progressive Dane problem. Sure enough, Brenda Konkel supports Section 8 housing vouchers. Why not, she is the same Progressive Dane doyenne who championed the "right" of vagrants to piss ever so publicly. Despoiling our human environment seems to be the Madame's speciality. Brenda got this exposure on WISC TV-3:
"(Section 8 renters are) a protected class, just like being a woman, or your race, or your ethnicity and all of the other protected classes. So a landlord can not make a decision to rent to you because of the fact that you receive Section 8," said Brenda Konkel of the Tenant Resource Center.
"... there are more Section 8 renters out there looking and I think they're running into more discrimination than they had in the last few years," said Konkel. "I'm also concerned because I see the folks in Meadowood and Allied Drive and some landlords who are a little bit more political and a little more organized are starting to say, 'We're not going to rent to people on Section 8,' and they're linking that to crime."
I've already reported that county ordinance prohibits discriminating against "legal sources of income." I'll bet when that was enacted few understood the implications of that benign-sounding phrase. (That's why the 1,000-page "health reform" bills - note the plural - are so troublesome. The devil is in the details.)
Don't just read Channel 3's story. Be sure to read the on-line comments. In fact, the Internet, with this feature, has revolutionized "journalism" by allowing real people to correct the mainstream news media's unrelenting liberal perspective. Here's a sampling from the Brenda Section 8 story:
- I think Konkel should buy a building and rent it out solely to Section 8. She can then see how much money and time it takes to clean up after their departure. This is not true for the people that really need it, IE handicapped, disabled, elderly. The problem is that its not policed properly.
- You think I am going to rent to Section 8? Hell no I'm not. When the Gov't starts paying my taxes, fixes my damage caused by these tenants, and gives me good meds for all the headaches, that's when I will rent to these people.
- Time limit on Section 8 AND Welfare!!! When it was created it was called "relief". You worked your way out of the temporary relief. Now (it) is learned helplessness (as a) way of life. And Madison is infested.
- I lived in a quiet, old neighborhood in Sun Prairie until the 2-flat house next door was purchased by a well known Madison landlord who is really nothing but a slum lord. She constantly rents to Section 8 people. Because of her, our quiet neighborhood was plagued by drug users, prostitution and violence.
- I had bad experiences with Section 8 renters. All of them were drug users, had police calls almost daily at their apartments. I almost lost one of my property due to all criminal activities related to section 8 tenants. They are the worst. ... I would kill myself before I would ever rent to a section 8 again.
This landlord offered helpful advice:
Plenty of ways to keep the Section 8s out of units. .... Just keep using creative ways to dodge them and you'll get a good renter in there soon enough. It may hurt your pockets some initially, but it'll definitely payoff in the long run.
Hey, Stu Levitan: maybe you should take a page from Dan Nerad and do a survey!
- Hey, let's get the Armadillo going in Madison. Let's see one of these babies sittin' outside some Section 8 slumlord's apartment!
- I am honored but not humbled to be named one of Madison's Favorites in the Isthmus Annual Manual, now on newsstands everywhere. I tied for third place with Emily Mills, who claims to be my daughter. Taking first was Nichole Fromm and JonMichael Rasmus for Eating in Madison A to Z. (I've got to run some recipes, apparently.) Taking second is the very well done (for a liberal site) Caffeinated Politics written by Deke Rivers who himself is written by Gregory Humphrey.
- Seriously, folks, where else can you get reliably conservative local news and commentary outside the airwaves of Miss Vicki and Mitch Henck? Blaska's Blog: Brain Food for the Muscular Intellect!