Category Archives: Education

Walker Releases School Safety Plan

As I mentioned before, the urge to throw taxpayer dollars at things is a bipartisan disease.

Gov. Scott Walker on Thursday called on lawmakers to take up a $100 million package aimed at providing more security in school buildings across Wisconsin.

But the plan doesn’t call for imposing stricter controls on gun ownership as Democrats have called for, or for arming teachers as some Republicans have said could be a solution to gun violence in the classroom.


Walker’s plan would create an Office of School Safety within the state Department of Justice; it proposes $100 million in grants to schools, on a one-time basis, to help pay for security improvements, training opportunities and police officers.

It’s unclear how the grants would be distributed, but if the $100 million were divided equally among the 2,261 public schools and 818 private schools in Wisconsin, each school would get $32,478.

Creating another government bureaucracy that will arbitrarily hand out handfuls of taxpayer cash is not a solution. It’s an election year gimmick.

Wisconsin Dems Offer Ideas for School Safety

And, of course, the answer is to spend more money on schools.

A Democratic proposal to exempt school safety measures from state-imposed limits on property taxes would cost property owners $85 million, according to a Legislative Fiscal Bureau memo released Wednesday.

I’ll give the Wisconsin Democrats some credit. Their school safety proposals are not outlandish. They focus on better mental health services and better safety protocols in schools. That’s all good. Their proposals are focusing in the right area, at least.

Where they go off the rails is the way politicians of both sides usually go off the rails… they just want to throw a metric crap ton of taxpayer money at these initiatives. No… the money is there already. It is a matter of prioritization. We spend a lot of money on our schools and it is not unreasonable to expect our local school boards to make safety at least a high a priority as Ceramics and Sculpture (just to pick on one).

Only 14% Turnout for Walkout in West Bend

Good for the kids in West Bend. Despite being encouraged by the district administration, assured that there would not be any consequences  if they walk out, and the administration pushing the protest all the way down to the 5th grade, the vast majority of the kids stayed put. Kudos to a student body that has more sense than some of the folks teaching them.



Government Schools Use Kids for Political Activism

Today we are going to see our government schools encourage and facilitate the use of our children to agitate in support of a political issue. It is an abhorrent abuse of power.

Students across the country and around the world are expected to take part in a National School Walkout today in a call on Congress to pass tighter gun control laws.

The ENOUGH National School Walkout will be held this morning — exactly one month after the mass shooting at a Florida high school that killed 17 people and sent shock waves across the nation.

Another Abrupt Teacher Resignation at West Bend High School

I got word on Friday that Mr. David Pesci, the popular high school Choir Director, had abruptly resigned. No reason was given, but Principal Schlass told the students that he will not be coming back to say goodbye.

A tipster pointed me to the DPI licensing site. Sure enough, Mr. Pecsi hasn’t had a teaching license since January of LAST YEAR. I’m not sure why the administration allowed him to teach for over a year without a license. It must not be that important, despite what the education industrial complex likes to tell us.

Madison Schools Enable Anti-Gun Protests

The West Bend School District can be proud that it is in solidarity with the Madison districts.

On March 14, high school students around the country plan to walk out of their classrooms to demand more restrictive gun laws.

In Madison, after walking out of school, many students plan to keep walking to the state Capitol for a rally. While the walkout is not sponsored or endorsed by any school districts, several officials are announcing their respect for the students’ right to protest and are allowing parents and guardians to excuse absences.

“We are incredibly proud of the young people, both nationally and here in Madison, who have raised their voices about gun control and their right to be safe at school. Our district stands with our students as they demand action,” said Jennifer Cheatham, superintendent of the Madison Metropolitan School District.

Clearly, using kids as props to advance a leftist agenda takes priority over education.

West Bend School District Facilitates Protest

This is stupid.

West Bend School District has released the following statement:

“Administrators and teachers at West Bend Joint School District #1, West Bend East High School, West Bend West High School, and Badger Middle School are aware of the potential peaceful school walkout on March 14 at 10:00 a.m. by students to show their concerns about school safety.

“The West Bend School District will not penalize students who choose to assemble peacefully for 17 minutes on March 14. After talking with students and staff, the school principals have developed plans to maintain the safety of the participating and non-participating students and to minimize interference with educational programming.

“Those students who wish to participate in the walkout will be monitored and supervised by school staff to ensure that any walkout is safe and orderly. The West Bend Police Department will also help to ensure the safety of students to assemble in predesignated areas.

“Students who choose to participate will be expected to return to class in a timely manner and resume the school day. Students who fail to return to class will be considered truant in violation of school rules. For students who choose not to participate, school administrators and teachers are planning for classroom instruction to continue.”

School is for school. The kids are there to get an education. Of the 168 hours in a week, the kids spend less than 40 in the classroom. They can protest on their own time.

The real problem is that now the school district has inserted itself into being an arbiter of political issues. Would they do this for a Black Lives Matter protest? Anti-abortion protest? Pro-2nd Amendment protest? Pro-illegal immigration protest? $15 minimum wage protest? Which ones does the school staff supervise and which ones do they prohibit?

What they should have done is reiterate to the kids the importance of education and enforced their normal policies for tardiness or unexcused absences. If the kids want to protest, then so be it. Who ever said that protesting is free of consequences?

Sloppy management practices in UW System invite abuse

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online. I tried my best to make a very boring topic more interesting. You be the judge as to whether or not I succeeded. Here you go:

Last year the University of WisconsinOshkosh Foundation filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after several suspicious and inappropriate transactions were discovered between the foundation, the university and its chancellor. The fallout from that mess is still being litigated in court. In response, the state’s Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) conducted a study of the relationships between UW institutions and 90 affiliated organizations. The results are disturbing.

First, let us recall what happened at UWO because it serves as an example of how bad things can get. The UW-O Foundation was purportedly dedicated to helping the university. Like many university foundations, it served as a booster club to raise money to help the university pay for things that were not covered in the budget.

Over several years, it was discovered UW-Oshkosh was funneling university money through the foundation for projects like a biodigester and a hotel. Meanwhile, the foundation bought the university’s chancellor’s house for about $120,000 more than the appraised value right before he retired to Florida. Even though millions of taxpayer dollars were involved, much of this happened with almost no oversight and little paperwork.

In response to these revelations, the Joint Legislative Audit Committee asked the LAB to evaluate the relationships between all UW institutions and their affiliated organizations. The scope of the evaluation included almost all UW universities and colleges and 90 affiliated organizations from fiscal year 2007-2008 through fiscal year 2016-2017.

What the study found is a mess of poor accounting, weak oversight, sloppy management and comingling of public and private finances.

The LAB couldn’t track all the finances because not every affiliated organization had a unique identification number in its accounting system, thus rendering a full accounting impractical. But what the LAB could count showed that $257.9 million flowed from UW institutions to the affiliated organizations over the period of the study. Remember that the money is usually supposed to flow the other direction.

In one relatively small example, UWMadison received$3.5 million in 2015 for media rights related to certain athletic programs and then immediately sent that entire amount to the UW Foundation. UWMadison said an unspecified portion of the $3.5 million was intended for coaches who had assigned their share of the funds to the UW Foundation, but did not provide any detail or accounting. UW-Madison is apparently so awash with money that a mere $3.5 million does not warrant scrutiny by university officials.

The LAB evaluation also found that there is very little separation between affiliated organizations and the universities they support. The various foundations and affiliated organizations are private organizations while the UW institutions are public entities subject to public scrutiny and oversight. They are supposed to be separate.

The LAB report showed that UW employees worked as the executive directors of most foundations for the four-year universities. Even though nine of the foundations reimbursed the taxpayers for some or all of the salary and benefits for the 50 employees who also worked for the foundations, it is impossible to determine if all expenses were reimbursed because those employees did not track the amount of time they spent working for the foundations. Meanwhile, four of the affiliated organizations that were not primary fundraising foundations had UW employees as voting members of the boards of directors.

Until December, the UW Board of Regents did not have a written policy governing the relationships between UW institutions and their primary fundraising foundations. The regents finally established that policy, but still do not have a policy to govern the relationships with all of the other affiliated organizations.

The citizens, taxpayers, students and staff who support the UW System deserve better than this. The lack of oversight, shady accounting, comingled governing structures and incomplete record keeping is intolerable in a system where hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars are at stake. Such poor management practices allow abuses like what happened at UW-Oshkosh.

The UW Board of Regents has been slow and incomplete in their response to this growing problem. The Wisconsin Legislature may need to step in and demand action on behalf of their constituents.

Learning a Trade

This looks like a great partnership between the city and the school district.

A new apprenticeship with the city’s Fleet Service Division is giving three high school students a chance to learn automotive skills on a wide of array of vehicles.

At the same time, the department is grooming potential employees for the shop at a time when a large number of workers are retiring and technology is changing rapidly.

“I thought it sounded like it would be a really great opportunity to diversify my skills,” said Nathaniel Imrie, a Memorial High School junior. “There’s a lot of things here you wouldn’t see anywhere else.”

Massive School Tax Increase Hits Taxpayers

This is what criminal mismanagement looks like.

The New Berlin woman was expecting a bump. After all, her school district — West Allis-West Milwaukee — had been mired in financial problems and had just secured $15.8 million in new loans from the state.

But a $530 increase? Up 18.4%? Just for her school taxes?

“People are livid,” said Neuroth, whose school district taxes have risen nearly 30% over the last decade, though her assessed value has fallen.


The 2018 tax increase is the latest fallout from West Allis-West Milwaukee’s financial meltdown in which it blew through $17.5 million in reserves over a decade to post a $2.1 million deficit in 2016.

Voters, many angry over what they saw as fiscal mismanagement, rejected the district’s bid for $12.5 million in extra operating revenue last year. After that, the district turned to the state, which approved $15.8 million in loans for energy efficiency and capital projects.

RELATED: Wisconsin schools raised $217M above tax caps for green projects

That was supposed to raise taxes this year by about $16 for every $100,000 of home value, or about $50 for a house like Deb Neuroth’s that is assessed at $318,700. But tax rates surged instead because of a confluence of factors, including, paradoxically, the district’s efforts to slash spending and live within its means.

The combination of declining enrollment and reduced spending caused it to lose almost $6 million in state aid, which it then had to recoup from local taxpayers.

West Allis residents also took a hit. Their taxes rose about 12%. But New Berlin residents’ surged 18.4% because of an equalization formula that spreads the burden among communities based on property values.

Meeting Force with Force

As I mentioned in my column earlier this week, allowing school staff members to arm themselves is not an untrodden path. Many schools are already doing it.

The laws of many states already provide that school boards or administrators may authorize specific staff members to be armed. In Colorado, we work to ensure such personnel are very well trained.

After the murder of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, the Buckeye Firearms Foundation in Ohio founded “FASTER Saves Lives,” a training program specifically designed for armed school staff. (That stands for Faculty/Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response.)

It has trained more than 1,300 Ohio school staffers in hundreds of schools in the past five years. In 2017, Coloradans for Civil Liberties brought FASTER training to their state. The Ohio and Colorado programs both raise private money to provide the school districts with training at no cost.

The key is meeting force with force as quickly as possible.

At least six school shootings have been halted by swift armed defenders: Pearl, Miss. (1997, assistant principal); Edinboro, Pa. (1998, restaurant owner hosting junior high school dance); Santee High School, Calif. (2001, off-duty officer dropping his child off at school); Appalachian School of Law, Va. (2002, law students with law enforcement background); Sullivan Central High School, Tenn. (2010, law enforcement officer), and Arapahoe High School, Colo. (2013, sheriff’s deputy on duty at the school).

Rural schools are typically the first to arm staff. That makes sense. They may be a half an hour or more from any possible law enforcement response to campus, and in any defensive situation, seconds count.

According to an analysis by Ron Borsch of the Southeast Area Law Enforcement Task Force in Ohio, for mass-casualty events using a firearm, one person is shot on average every 17 seconds.

Most, though not all, mass shooters kill themselves the moment they are confronted by an armed defender; that’s according to a study reported by the Force Science Research Center at Minnesota State University-Mankato . The difference between an armed response that takes 30 seconds and one that takes five minutes is a matter of life and death.

Defending Our Kids

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online. Here you go:

Once again we find ourselves searching for solutions in the wake of a mass killing at a school. It is the natural human reaction to want to do something about it and we all want the killing to end. The powerful impulse to “do something” is often the genesis of bad laws, or worse, tyranny, but that must not deter us from doing whatever is legal, ethical, and constitutional to decrease the likelihood of another massacre.

Mass killings are still the statistical outlier in America. The odds of being killed in such a mass shooting is dwarfed by the likelihood of being killed by a criminal or angry family member. According to FBI data, our nation has averaged about 23 deaths per year from mass shootings since 1982. While each mass shooting is shocking and tragic, you are more than twice as likely to be killed by bees or wasps as in a mass shooting. Still, while rare, mass killings appear to be on the rise and we must take reasonable measures to prevent them when possible, and mitigate the damage when they occur.

The root causes of the rise of mass killings are complex. Our culture is steeped in violent movies and video games; devoid of moral absolutism; hostile to God and blessings of salvation; detached from the real world of human interaction; where kids grow up isolated and angry in a sea of digital and artificial surrogates for love, friendship, and emotional connections. It is a toxic brew that — especially when mixed with mental illness and lax law enforcement — fertilizes evil. But fixing the culture is hard. In the meantime, we must look to preserve the footings of individual liberty while providing for our security.

What can be done about reducing mass killings in our schools and elsewhere? Provide better mental health services? Install better security in our schools? Hire armed security officers to patrol our schools? See it and say it? Ensure that background checks for the purchase of weapons are thorough? Deal severely with people who are violent and unstable? Yes. All of the above.

Another measure we need to take is to allow schools to decide if and how they would allow teachers, parents, and staff to arm themselves.

There are some realities that we face as a nation when it comes to firearms. First, firearms are prevalent in our society and they are not going away. That is as it should be. We decided at the founding of this nation that an armed citizenry was necessary for the preservation of liberty and it is an ethic that is ingrained into the American heart. If anything, in the face of tragedy, Americans have shown that they prefer to lift restrictions on owning and carrying firearms for law-abiding folks instead of enacting further restrictions. Even if we repeal the 2nd Amendment tomorrow, 300 million guns aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Second, while we can and must take action to address the root causes of violence, we will never completely dig out those roots. They are at the very core of humanity. We are marked by a shadow of evil that cannot be completely eliminated absent the eradication of our species. As such, we must do as we have always done: hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

Allowing school employees to arm themselves provides for that last desperate line of defense in the face of unthinkable violence. When faced by a lunatic with a gun, there are very few ways to escape the situation alive. Meeting force with force is sometimes the only, and best, option.

Implementing such a policy is complex. High schools are different from elementary schools. Rural schools are different from urban schools. Big schools are different from smaller schools. That is why the decisions about how a policy allowing teachers and staff to arm themselves must be left to local school districts and private school leaders.

But this is not untraveled ground. In Texas, for example, 172 school districts already allow staff and/or school board members to carry firearms on school grounds. And according to the Giffords Law Center, nine states already allow concealed carry holders to carry on school grounds in some or all situations. Those are not the schools where mass shootings are on the rise.

Not every, or even most, school employees would want to accept the responsibility of providing an armed defense, but some would. They deserve to have that choice. They deserve to have a safer workplace. Even the best police forces are minutes away when seconds count.

At the very least, the fact that some school employees might be armed serves as a deterrent to wouldbe killers. There is a reason why mass murderers tend to target gunfree zones. They may be evil, but they aren’t stupid. The threat of an immediate armed response denies them the time to inflict maximum carnage.

We will never be able to completely eliminate the threat of violence in our schools. That is precisely why we must provide our school teachers and staff with all of the tools available to protect themselves and our children. As we have learned after almost every school shooting in the past thirty years, the violence only stops when it is met with equal force. The quicker that happens, the fewer people get shot. It is just that simple.

West Bend’s Upcoming Referendum

Despite declining enrollment, the West Bend School District is running full speed with a referendum. This email from the Director of Facilities to the CFAC members went out this morning:

From: Dave Ross <>
Date: February 23, 2018 at 9:53:33 AM CST
Subject:Update to CFAC members

Last Tuesday night, the Board of Education met for a work session to discuss the work that you have been doing and to make some decisions about what needs to be done going forward in order to keep things moving forward. Video of the meeting can be viewed at:

The meeting had three parts to it: the first was an update to the board by Bray on the work they have done to date, the second portion was dedicated to looking at the districts debt picture which was presented by Robert W. Baird and the third part was an overview of the methodology for the community survey which was presented by School Perceptions.

Here is a very brief synopsis of each part:

Matt Wolfert from Bray Architects reviewed the drawings with the board including the renovation option for Jackson. The board asked a lot of questions but seemed quite pleased with the progress that has been made to date.

Brian Brewer from R.W. Baird reviewed the debt picture of the district. The district does have some existing debt but has structured that debt wisely. In addition, the district has been putting money into the Jackson Trust. The long and short of things is that the district could do as much as an approximately $40 million referendum and not raise property taxes because of the structure of the existing debt and the Jackson Trust.

Finally, Bill Foster of School Perceptions presented on how his company would go about performing a community survey. He also advised the board to listen to the results of what the survey told them. Failing to do so often leads to an erosion of trust in the board from the community.

This was a really short overview so I would encourage you, (especially if you’ve got a spare 2 or 3 hours) to watch the video.

The last thing I wanted to do is share a little more information. During our committee meetings many of you asked for articles and/or research on the effects that a facility has on education. I thought that this article:

provided a fairly good overview but more importantly gives many references/sources for further investigation.

As always, if you have any questions, please let me know and I’ll do my best to get you an answer.

Have a great weekend.

Dave Ross

Director of Facilities and Operations



Based on the email, it looks like they are going to try to pull the “let’s spend $40 million (plus millions more in interest), but we won’t increase taxes.” Of course, that commits more of the operating budget to debt service, thus reducing funds for teachers, supplies, etc. It also completely misses the opportunity to decrease taxes as those older debts are paid off.

Such a move of spinning off debt for decades in order to keep the yearly expenses lower also increases the likelihood of tax increases in the future. It tightens the part of the budget that can be used for actual operations, and remember that enrollment in the district is expected to decline. As enrollment declines, so will funding. But the debt service must be paid. The end result is that there will be less and less money for the actual operating funds that can be used for paying staff and supporting the daily operations of the district.

Putting another $40 million on the district credit card in an era of declining enrollment is reckless fiscal management of the district. It will be interesting to hear from the school board members and school board candidates as this discussion evolves.

Schmiege Responds

Monte Schmiege, the only incumbent running for the West Bend School Board, took issue with a recent column by John Torinus in the Washington County Daily News. Schmiege responded with this today:

Yes, I do have an agenda: I focus on student success

The Daily News recently ran an editorial by John Torinus on the recent primary, including selection of candidates for the school board election April 3. My claim to fame, according to Torinus, is having an agenda “beyond management oversight of the district,” in contrast to the board members he favors. I think all board members have an intense interest in what is best for the students, myself included, and all candidates come to the board with agendas.

Torinus does not clarify what management oversight means or what kind of agendas or judgments form the basis for such oversight. He says I am a “declared conservative.” I’ll take that. He says I am a “stickler for strict adherence to regulations, policies and procedures.” I’ll take that. Isn’t that what management oversight should be, as opposed to personal agendas that ignore regulations, policies and procedures?

Torinus calls me out for a policy proposal that suggested people addressing the board do so from their personal perspectives. It did not prevent group representation. Jason Penterman, of the WBEA, objected to the proposal with reasons, and Torinus joined in. Subsequently, Torinus wouldn’t take as satisfactory my statement that the Policy Committee would review the proposal.

Torinus typically has good, reasoned arguments in his writings. I can agree with him much of the time. In the matter of the West Bend School Board election, he and I seem to have some differences of opinion.

My agenda is stability, sustainability and student success. The district has gone through a great deal of turmoil. We need to establish stability. Capital and compensation plans must be financially sustainable. Most of all, we need to focus on student success, which is a function of many decisions, big and small. Add one more goal, safety.

Armed Teachers?

Yes, please.

At his White House event, Mr Trump promised to look “very strongly” at calls for educators to be armed with guns – a position long held by the National Rifle Association (NRA).

“If you had a teacher who was adept at firearms,” he said, “they could very well end the attack very quickly.”

“Where a teacher would have a concealed gun on them,” he said, while acknowledging the plan was controversial, “they would go for special training and they would be there, and you would no longer have a gun-free zone.

I certainly don’t require a teacher or staff member to have to carry a weapon, but if a teacher is willing and able to do so, why shouldn’t we let them have the opportunity to meet force with force to protect their students and themselves?

West Bend School Board Primary Results

These are interesting results:


First, who are the 505 idiots who voted for Carl Lundin? He’s the guy who dropped out. We’ll call that the “ignorant voter” quotient.

Second, the two candidates who identify themselves as Conservatives, Mary Weigand and Monte Schmiege, won convincing pluralities. Schmiege is an incumbent and one of two conservatives on the current board. Weigand is a well-known local conservative. This is, perhaps, not surprising in a conservative community like West Bend, but the results of the past few local elections seemed to indicate a softening of that demographic feature. This election seems to indicate that perhaps the previous elections were anomalies.

Third, turnout for this primary election was 35% higher than the general election last year for school board (22.53% vs. 16.68%). This is a pattern that we have seen in West Bend for a while. There is a vocal, committed, organized liberal minority. They vote more reliably than the conservative majority. This means that turnout is everything. When turnout is below 20%, liberals can win victories in local elections like they did last April. When turnout is higher, there just aren’t enough liberals to overcome the conservative vote. The liberals can turn out every single liberal in the county and they can’t win if there is even a moderate conservative turnout. It’s just math.

Let’s hope that turnout is decent for the April election. Given that the Supreme Court race is likely to be very heated, I think Schmiege and Weigand have the inside track to the school board. That bodes well for the district.

Freedom of Choice

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online. I had actually planned to write this column before I noticed that it’s School Choice Week. Serendipitous, don’t you think? Here you go:

When children and philosophers think about government, they will often romanticize the philosopher king or benevolent dictator as the ideal form of government. The idea of a wise, thoughtful, kind, and generous ruler making decisions to correct the wickedness of ignorant people for the benefit of the entire society is a tempting and alluring story. But history has shown us that such fantasies are best left on the pages of storybooks and treatises. They have little relevance in the actual history of mankind.

When our founders began on their journey of self-governance, it was largely a reaction to the tyranny of monarchical rule. As the spark of the Reformation helped ignite the flames of the Enlightenment, people began to consider the notion that they were not only capable, but entitled, to rule themselves. Such thoughts traveled to America and made the yoke of a distant monarchy weigh heavy. Finally, our founders cast off that yoke and began the great American experiment of self-governance, which continues to this day.

Our founders were students of history and recognized that one of the critical footings of successful self-governance is education. Indeed, only an educated people governing themselves could can off the abuses of tyranny so often inflicted by the cruel on the ignorant. As Thomas Jefferson wrote to William Jarvis in 1820, “I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.”

In order to ensure that the people were educated enough to govern themselves, the founders viewed it as a duty of government to provide the people an education. Not deemed a responsibility of the federal government, our founders worked hard to enshrine the responsibility to provide an education into the state constitutions and local charters. It is an important ethos that has helped carry our nation into its third century of self-rule.

As a people, we have decided that it is critical for our republic to not only provide, but also to require that every citizen be educated. While rooted in the preservation of our liberty, compulsory universal education also has significant secondary consequences like raising the standard of living, enabling innovation and reducing poverty.

Whereas we all agree that it is in the best interests of our liberty and our general society to require and provide for universal education through our governments, there is less agreement about how that education should be delivered. At the root of the issue is that while we all generally agree that we should use our collective tax dollars to fund education, there is no rational basis for the government to own the means of delivering that education.

Education is one of the few areas of civil society where we insist that the government both fund and own the means of production for a public good. For example, in transportation, the government pays for infrastructure, but utilizes mostly private enterprises to complete the work. When it comes to welfare, we all generally agree that the government should pay for the indigent, but there are not government-owned grocery stores. In fact, there has been strong push back to President Donald Trump’s idea to provide packages of government groceries to welfare recipients instead of letting them choose their own groceries.

In the 21st century, the idea that the only way to provide a good education is for the government to own, manage and run the schools is as antiquated as the boys-only one-room school house. As our society speeds up, the rigidity and sluggishness of the public schools have struggled to keep pace. That fact, coupled with the frustration from some that some public schools have become centers of Neo-Marxist indoctrination instead of education, is part of what has led to a majority of states offering some form of school choice in the form of vouchers, education savings accounts and/or tax exemptions for private schools.

The heart of the school choice movement is the recognition that every child is precious and unique. Each child deserves the educational environment in which they can best thrive, and the child’s parents — not politicians — are the most informed, most interested and most invested in making decisions about their child’s education. For some parents, that choice may be a government-run school. For some it might be a religious school. For some it might be an online or private school. For some it might be homeschooling or an immersion school.

The point is that it is the parents who should decide and our societal obligation and commitment is to ensure that money, within reason, is not the sole determinant of educational choice. The rich already have all of these choices. School choice levels the field by ensuring that people of all economic means also have choices.

If an educated people is a free people, then we must free our education system to reach as many children as possible. Our founders were willing to tear down old societal structures to build a better future. Are we willing to do the same?

West Bend School District Projects Declining Enrollment

Good to know.

The district is expected to have about 6,509 students during the 2018-19 academic year and by 2023-2024 that number is expected to decline near 6,160.

“This all could change with the economy,” Van Spankeren said. The trend is normal and being seen at most other districts he said.

This academic year there are 6,729 students in the district, according to how districts are supposed to count them. The actual head count is 6,909, but students who don’t attend a full day of school, like 4K students, count as less than one.

Of course, projections could always change. I remember a few short years ago when the district was asking for a huge pile of money in a referendum that they were projecting increasing enrollment. But this projection is worth keeping in mind as the district prepares to ask for millions of dollars in a referendum to build a new Jackson Elementary that will be much, much larger than the one that’s already there.

Florida to Consider Vouchers for Victims of Bullying

This just seems like a bad idea.

A proposal being weighed in the Florida legislature would allow children who have been bullied to receive a state-funded voucher to attend private school.

The grants — called the “Hope Scholarships” — would allow children who say they have been bullied to be eligible for a voucher of $6,800 a year to go to private school, NBC News reported.

The scholarships would not be based on income.

Students whose parents tell administrators their children have been bullied or harassed would be eligible for the program.

The funding would come from car buyers who could volunteer $105 from their registration fee toward the program, according to NBC News.

First, the funding mechanism is all screwed up. There’s no way that it’s reliable or adjustable to demand.

Second, the requirements are wide open for fraud. Anyone can claim they were “bullied or harassed” and whose to say that they weren’t? In an age when we are defining an off color comment as “harassment,” virtually anyone could make a valid claim for the voucher.

I’ve been a big supporter of vouchers for a long time. But if it makes sense for the public to fund education for children irrespective of the delivery apparatus, then it makes sense. What doesn’t make sense if for the government to keep erecting weird hurdles that segregate the kids’ eligibility based on arbitrary factors.

UW Madison to Subsidize Middle and Low Income Students

This is nice.

UW-Madison officials say they will cover tuition and fee costs for Wisconsin students from families with incomes below the state median, a move they say shows all state residents that an education at the state’s flagship campus is within reach.

The plan, dubbed “Bucky’s Tuition Promise,” was unveiled at a University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents meeting Thursday.

It pledges to cover four year’s tuition and certain fees for all in-state students who are accepted to the university and come from families with a yearly household income of $56,000 or less. University officials say that amount is roughly the median family income in Wisconsin.

UW-Madison officials stressed the plan will not trigger financial aid reductions elsewhere and is not funded with taxpayer dollars.

Rather, they said the anticipated cost — about $3 million a year when fully phased in — will be paid by private donations and other revenue sources such as licensing royalties.