Spend Money on the Education that Families Want and Need

I made this point in shorter form as part of my column yesterday. Adam Peshek does it better.

The first step toward realizing a more resilient and family-centered system is to reimagine how we fund education. In short, it’s time to start funding families, not the buildings that are meant to serve them.

Americans spend at least $720 billion on education each year. At around $13,000 per child, that puts the U.S. among the highest-spending countries in the world.

Instead of providing this benefit directly to families — as we do for higher education, childcare, and health care — in K-12, we send this money directly to school buildings. Taxpayer dollars are collected and sent to a central office, and zones are drawn around individual schools where students are required to attend or forfeit the funds raised for their education.

The pandemic has exposed the flaws in this system. School closures, loss of childcare, and difficulties transitioning to online and hybrid-learning models are having devastating effects on children. According to one report, an estimated 3 million students have received no formal education since schools closed in March. That’s the equivalent of every school-aged child in Florida failing to show up for school.


To create a more effective and more resilient education system, we must learn from what has proven effective during the pandemic — namely, the ability of those with resources to identify and pursue a variety of individualized learning opportunities to meet children’s needs. To provide these same opportunities for all families, governments should prioritize direct grants to families, education spending accounts, refundable tax credits, and myriad other ways to get money into the hands of families so they can build an education that fits their needs.

Open Everything and Let People Live Their Lives

I completely agree with Mark Belling.

Those of us who have had it with COVID hijacking our lives (and American life) have weighed the risks and want us to return to “normal.” But the other half thinks we are nuts for “ignoring the science” and risking our lives and doing our part to keep spreading the virus.

So, we have a country, and a state, at odds with one another because we are on different timetables with different perspectives and different priorities. There is only one way to resolve these differences and that is for government to butt out and let people make decisions for themselves. One size fits all never works but it especially doesn’t work when you have a country of two sizes. Businesses that want to open at full capacity ought to be allowed to do so. Those that want to close, or limit their clientele, should be free to do that as well. If public schools want to close because of a virus that doesn’t make kids sick, that’s the prerogative of their school boards. But if private schools in the same community want to stay open because they understand the downside of not educating children is worse than the risks of COVID, they ought to be able to do that as well. That’s why the Racine case headed to the state Supreme Court is so critical. The Racine health department has issued an order closing all schools in the city (and some adjacent to the city) whether they are public or private. Wisconsin Institute For Law And Liberty (WILL) is suing. The right of the leaders of private schools to make their own decisions has to trump the rights of bureaucrats to take away those basic rights. Parents silly enough to send their kids to the mediocre (I am being generous) Racine Unified district have opted to exile them to another year of “virtual learning” in which they are going to fall even farther behind their peers. But the moms and dads who have opted to send their children to private schools shouldn’t be stuck with the decision made by leftist government officials afraid of their COVID shadows.

We all know the risks and ways to mitigate the spread of the virus. If you need to stay home, then do so. You are not harmed if I go to a restaurant with other people who are willing to accept the risk.

Seattle Cuts Police as Crime Soars


Seattle is preparing to slash the city’s police budget just as homicides in the city climb to their highest level in more than a decade.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan is set to sign a city budget that includes an 18 percent cut to the Seattle Police Department, a move that comes after police reform activists demanded the police budget be reduced by half. Calls for police reform have abounded in cities across the country since May, when George Floyd died at the hands of police in Minneapolis.

The city council voted last week to slash about $69 million in funding for officer training, salaries and overtime, and get rid of vacant positions in the police department as well as transfer parking officers, mental health workers, and 911 dispatchers out of the department. The goal is to ultimately reinvest in alternatives to police in situations such as mental health crises.

Senator Stroebel Replaces Senator Darling on JFC

This is very good news.

Madison, WI – State Sen. Duey Stroebel (R-Saukville) released the following statement today after being appointed Senate Vice-Chairman of the Joint Finance Committee:

“I am honored to be appointed to this position and grateful to Majority Leader-elect LeMahieu for this opportunity. Since being appointed to the Joint Finance Committee in 2017, I have advocated for common sense budgeting and fiscal responsibility.

“To taxpayers, I pledge to continue fighting for your interests and the wise stewardship of your hard-earned tax dollars. Decision-makers in Madison need to stay grounded in the realities faced every day by Wisconsin’s workers, farmers, and employers. Those realities will continue to guide my work on the Finance Committee.

“To my colleagues, I will work diligently to represent the interests of our chamber during the budget process. Senate Republicans have a great track record of pushing for more efficient, more effective, and smaller government that spends only what it needs and returns savings to the taxpayers. I look forward to working with each of you to craft the next state budget.

Senator Darling had been drifting more purple as her district has (she was even running ads bragging about how she was responsible for the most spending on government schools in the history of Wisconsin). Stroebel is a smart conservative and we couldn’t ask for a better Senator to help craft the budget.

CORRECTION: I mistook “vice”chair for “co”chair. Stroebel moved up in the leadership, but Senator Marklein actually took Darling’s position. Still… good moves that are good for Wisconsin.

Senator Nygren Steps Down

Wow. Hope everything is OK in the Nygren family. He served Wisconsin well.

MARINETTE – A longtime Republican lawmaker in northeastern Wisconsin will resign from the state Assembly weeks after winning his reelection bid.

State Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, will step down from his seat in the 89th Assembly District effective Wednesday, according to a news release. Nygren has represented the district — which includes portions of Marinette, Oconto and Brown counties — since 2006 and served four terms as co-chair on the powerful Joint Committee on Finance.

2020 election paves road for Wisconsin’s next Republican governor

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Here’s a taste:

The state legislative results were less evenly split. The Republicans lost a couple of seats in the state Assembly, but still retain a substantial majority. The Republicans actually gained a couple of seats in the state Senate to give them their largest majority in that house in more than thirty years.

While Democrats will bemoan gerrymandering, those kinds of legislative majorities cannot be drawn by wily cartographers. Those majorities are a reflection of the fact that liberal Democrats have heavily segregated themselves into a few areas of the state and have become far more liberal. In doing so, the Democrats have moved away from middle-class and working- class Wisconsin and become the party of socialists, activists, and white-collar chauvinists who can afford to indulge bad ideas.

The 2020 election also showed that Republicans have made gains in most of the state. Trump increased his margins in the Fox Valley, central Wisconsin, northern Wisconsin, east-central Wisconsin, and in the rapidly growing Racine and Kenosha counties. The Democrats churned out huge vote totals in Dane and Milwaukee counties to win the state for Biden, but lost ground in almost every other area of the state.

In order to win in 2022, the Republican candidate for governor will need to appeal to those same Trump voters with the kitchen table issues that matter. First, a strong economy is good for all Wisconsinites and a strong economy is a diverse economy. Republicans must focus on championing the industries that matter to people who do not live in Madison and who do not have a college degree. Manufacturing, tourism, hospitality, construction, mining, milling, etc. are businesses that have provided family-supporting livelihoods for generations of Wisconsinites.

In particular, Governor Evers has spent the better part of a year ignoring the plight of small businesses with his dictatorial orders. Republicans must fight for the tavern owner in Fifield and the ski hill operator in Wild Rose. Fighting for them does not mean offering them a handout. It means getting government out of the way so that they can make a living.

Predicting The Shape of Protein Folds


Predicting how a protein folds into a unique three-dimensional shape has puzzled scientists for half a century.

London-based AI lab, DeepMind, has largely cracked the problem, say the organisers of a scientific challenge.

A better understanding of protein shapes could play a pivotal role in the development of novel drugs to treat disease.

The advance by DeepMind is expected to accelerate research into a host of illnesses, including Covid-19.

Their program determined the shape of proteins at a level of accuracy comparable to expensive and time-consuming lab methods, they say.

Dr Andriy Kryshtafovych, from University of California (UC), Davis in the US, one of the panel of scientific adjudicators, described the achievement as “truly remarkable”.

“Being able to investigate the shape of proteins quickly and accurately has the potential to revolutionise life sciences,” he said.

Warp Speed Vaccine

A lot of work went into this.

Every American will be able to get a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of June next year if they want one, according to Operation Warp Speed’s director of supply.

The first vaccine doses will be rolled out in December to the highest at risk after they get FDA approval, then they will slowly be dished out the remaining public.

On Monday, Lt. General Paul A. Ostrowski told CNBC that there would be enough to vaccinate everyone in the US by the end of June.

In Praise of Capitalism

Fist bump.

Whole Foods CEO John Mackey claimed capitalism cannot be replaced by socialism, stating it is ‘the path to poverty’.

Speaking to Robert Doar from the American Enterprise Institute via Zoom last week, the multimillionaire, 67, said capitalism is the ‘greatest thing humanity has ever done’ while claiming socialism ‘impoverishes everything’.

The libertarian grocery store boss, whose business is said to ‘lead with love’, spoke passionately about leadership and criticized those who slam capitalism.

‘Socialism has been tried 42 times in the last 100 years, and 42 failures,’ he said. ‘It doesn’t work. It’s the wrong way. We have to keep capitalism. I would argue we need conscious capitalism.’


‘We’ve told a bad narrative, and we’ve let the enemies of business and the enemies of capitalism put out a narrative about us that’s wrong.

‘It’s inaccurate and doing tremendous damage to the minds of young people,’ he said. Until we get this corrected, capitalism is always going to be disdained and criticized and attacked.

‘It’ll be attacked for its motivations, because its motivations are seen as somehow impure. Yes, of course, business has to make money.

‘If a business doesn’t make money, it will fail, but that doesn’t mean that its purpose is to make money.’

Instead he suggests business culture needs to evolve, to avoid the socialists ‘taking over’, which he describes the ‘path to poverty’.

‘They talk about trickle-down wealth, but socialism is trickle-up poverty. It just impoverishes everything. That’s my fear, that the Marxists and socialists, the academic community is generally hostile to business. It always has been. This is not new.’

The supporter of a free market economy suggests professors are more upset than the students and proposed there should be more ‘business people’ teaching.

The Crime Pandemic


A few weeks ago, MPD confirmed to TMJ4 News Milwaukee had tied the city’s record of 165 homicides set back in 1991.

Studies show other U.S. cities are experiencing an uptick in violence as well.

Anti-violence advocates have said the Covid-19 pandemic plays a big role in the trend, creating unemployment, food insecurity and other uncertainties.

Biden Breaks

The elderly are fragile. And, of course, the obligatory opaqueness we have come to expect from Biden.

Initially, Dr Kevin O’Connor said Biden ‘sustained a sprain of his right foot’ and that there was ‘no obvious fracture’.

But a subsequent CT scan ‘confirmed hairline (small) fractures of President-elect Biden’s lateral and intermediate cuneiform bones, which are in the mid-foot,’ according to a statement from O’Connor.

‘It is anticipated that he will likely require a walking boot for several weeks,’ O’Conner added.

Biden’s office said he was taken to the doctor ‘out of an abundance of caution’.

Reporters covering the president-elect were not afforded the opportunity to see Biden enter the doctor’s office, despite multiple requests.

Images showed Biden’s motorcade arriving to the Delaware Orthopaedic Specialists office on Sunday afternoon and leaving Sunday night.


Don’t Believe the Numbers

What an interesting standard the “experts” are setting up. If the numbers go up after Thanksgiving, then it is evidence of the irresponsibility of Americans and we need to lock down for Christmas. If the numbers don’t go up, then it’s evidence of poor testing not revealing that the numbers actually did go up and we need to lock down for Christmas.

MILWAUKEE (AP) — The coronavirus testing numbers that have guided much of the nation’s response to the pandemic are likely to be erratic over the next week or so, experts said Friday, as fewer people get tested during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend and testing sites observe shorter hours.

The result could be potential dips in reported infections that offer the illusion that the spread of the virus is easing when, in fact, the numbers say little about where the nation stands in fighting COVID-19. The number of Americans who have tested positive passed 13 million Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University.

“I just hope that people don’t misinterpret the numbers and think that there wasn’t a major surge as a result of Thanksgiving, and then end up making Christmas and Hanukkah and other travel plans,” said Dr. Leana Wen, a professor at George Washington University and an emergency physician.

As for me, I don’t think the government has the legitimate power to restrict me from engaging in legal behavior with other people of our own free will. I will continue to take reasonable precautions and go about living my life. And I will vote against all of the would-be tyrants.

Integrity isn’t convenient

Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News last week.

Once again, a sizable percentage of the people are going to spend the next four years disbelieving the results of a presidential election. With an electorate divided so evenly that elections are decided by just a few thousand votes, even the appearance of impropriety sows doubt and undermines the stability of our republic. We must reform our election process to rebuild the confidence of the electorate that the results — whatever they may be — are an accurate reflection of the will of the people.

America’s voting laws have been continuously changed throughout our history and every state conducts its elections a little differently. The twin objectives of our electoral process are to make it as easy as possible for as many citizens as possible to vote while also ensuring the integrity of the process. The former objective is to encourage a large enough turnout of voters to capture the will of the majority. The latter objective is to ensure that that will is accurately recorded.

As we have leaned our electoral system in favor of convenience to encourage turnout, we have opened it to fraud and the appearance of fraud. When election results are overwhelming, a little fraud does not threaten the result. When elections are decided on the knife’s edge, a little fraud undermines our system of government. In a system of government that relies on the losers willingly accepting the rule of the winners, legitimacy is based on the people’s faith in the outcome.

While still encouraging as many citizens who want to vote to vote, Wisconsin should once again lead the nation in electoral reform by creating a system that is the pride of democracy.

First, mail-in voting should be restricted to people who must have them. Overseas soldiers, ex-pats, and home or institutionbound people need a way to securely exercise their franchise. For most of the people who voted by mail this past election, it was simply a convenience. The problem with mail-in ballots is that they are inherently insecure. They pass through too many hands and are susceptible to fraud or being lost (intentionally or not). Greatly restricting the use of mail-in ballots to the people who really need them will reduce actual and assumed fraud.

Second, Wisconsin must insist on paper ballots in all jurisdictions and secure all of them for a reasonable time after every election. Electronic systems are convenient for clerks, but they leave no paper record of a vote in the event of a challenge or discrepancy. The beauty of paper ballots is that if there is a problem, authorities can always pull out the actual ballots and count them by hand.

In conjunction with the paper ballots, no counting machine should ever be networked to anything. Ever. Anything that touches a network is subject to widescale hacking. Simple, standalone counting machines may be inconvenient, but it is impossible to tinker with them on a large scale without a widespread conspiracy with people touching every machine. Such widespread conspiracies are improbable and unlikely to go unnoticed.

Third, local districts must purge the voter rolls on a more frequent basis. Having our voting rolls cluttered with the names of people who are dead or have moved is a ripe field for fraud. The simplest way to keep the rolls more hygienic would be to purge names of people who have been identified as having moved and those who have not voted in two election cycles. Given that Wisconsinites can register again on Election Day if they find their names removed, it is a minor inconvenience for a handful of voters for the sake of electoral security.

Fourth, all of the counting and recounting should be live-streamed and recorded. Nothing pushes away fraud and builds confidence like transparency. Anyone who has seen the incredible detail and angles available to watch a poker game on television knows how easy it would be to show every ballot up close for all the world to see. If there is a legal challenge over the count, the archived video would be easily accessible.

All of these measures would help secure our elections and restore the people’s confidence in our elections. They should also be coupled with measures to expand options for voters to cast a secure ballot. For example, the state should expand and fund a uniform in-person early voting period throughout the state.

For our republic to survive, the integrity of our electoral system must be above reproach. It does not matter if 90% of the people allegedly turn out if a large contingent of Americans do not trust the results. A substantial number on the left have never trusted the results of the 2016 presidential election. It appears that a substantial number on the right will never trust the results of the 2020 election. We have to do better for 2024.

Banning Linguistic Bigotry

Oh, the French

Now the French have not only come up with a word for this kind of prejudice – glottophobie – but a new law banning it. The Assemblée Nationale has adopted legislation making linguistic discrimination an offence along with racism, sexism and other outlawed bigotry.

Chief Iranian Nuclear Scientist Killed

Some good news.

Iran’s most senior nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh has been assassinated near the capital Tehran, the country’s defence ministry has confirmed.

Fakhrizadeh died in hospital after an attack in Absard, in Damavand county.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, has condemned the killing “as an act of state terror”.

Western intelligence agencies believe Fakhrizadeh was behind a covert Iranian nuclear weapons programme.

“If Iran ever chose to weaponise (enrichment), Fakhrizadeh would be known as the father of the Iranian bomb,” one Western diplomat told Reuters news agency in 2014.


In a statement on Friday, Iran’s defence ministry said: “Armed terrorists targeted a vehicle carrying Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, head of the ministry’s research and innovation organisation.

“After a clash between the terrorists and his bodyguards, Mr Fakhrizadeh was severely injured and rushed to hospital.

“Unfortunately, the medical team’s efforts to save him were unsuccessful and minutes ago he passed away.”

SCOTUS Rules in Favor of 1st Amendment

This should not have been a 5-4 ruling. But thank goodness Barrett is on the court.

(CNN)In a 5-4 ruling, the US Supreme Court sided with religious organizations in a dispute over Covid-19 restrictions put in place by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo limiting the number of people attending religious services.

The case is the latest pitting religious groups against city and state officials seeking to stop the spread of Covid-19, and it highlights the impact of Justice Amy Coney Barrett on the court. The decision comes as coronavirus cases surge across the country.
In the late-night decision, Barrett sided with her conservative colleagues in the dispute, while Chief Justice John Roberts joined the three liberal justices in dissent.

Happy Thanksgiving

It what has been a strange year for everyone, I hope that we can all pause to count our blessings and be thankful for all that the Good Lord has given us. May you all have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving.

Some Details on Shooting at Mayfair Mall

The only reason that there weren’t multiple fatalities is because this guy was a bad shot. Pray this predator never sees the light of day again.

According to the petition, the teen and a friend were in the mall Friday when the friend confronted a group of people descending an escalator, yelling then punching one person in the group. Witnesses told police the teen was farther back and “took a shooter’s stance.” He began firing with a handgun drawn from his waistband, the petition says.

The teen fled and was arrested Sunday in a car with Illinois plates, with a packed bag and the handgun police said was used in the shooting, the petition says. Police have said two others were also arrested but have not described their roles in the shooting.

Biden Advocates for Open Border

Between Ireland and the U.K.

(REUTERS) -U.S. President-elect Joe Biden said on Tuesday he did not want to see a guarded border between Ireland and the United Kingdom, adding that he had previously discussed the matter with the British and Irish prime ministers and other European leaders.

Biden had stressed the importance of protecting Northern Ireland’s peace deal in the Brexit process in a call with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier in the month, after Biden won the Nov. 3 U.S. election against President Donald Trump.

Johnson’s government is seeking a trade deal with the European Union but says it is willing to leave without one. That could complicate the situation at the sensitive Northern Irish border with Ireland – the UK’s only land border with the EU.

Biden told journalists in Wilmington, Delaware, that the border must be open.

“We do not want a guarded border,” he said, answering a question from a reporter on what he would say to Brexit negotiators.

I seem to remember the Left getting all in a tizzy about the Trump team talking to foreign leaders in 2016… but here we are.

Bribing for Concealed Carry Permits

There’s a broader point here.

Apple’s head of global security has been charged with bribery after allegedly promising 200 iPads worth $70,000 to police in exchange for four concealed-weapon permits for the company’s security officers.


Carrying concealed firearms in California is illegal without a permit, and county sheriffs have broad discretion over their issuance, which can cost between $200 and $400.