Boots & Sabers

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0740, 20 Sep 22

Terrible school performance demands real action

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Readers of this blog won’t be surprised by the thoughts. Here’s a bit:

Also, kids are individuals. They are not cattle. They learn at different speeds, with different methods, and with different styles. It is unrealistic to expect any single school to cater to the individual needs of students. Our kids are better served if we encourage the development of an educational heterogeny and trust parents to choose the best option for their children. All that understood, first, we must implement universal school choice with equal funding for each child irrespective of the school they attend. In Wisconsin’s current School Choice programs, taxpayers get a bargain because they provide much less money for a kid who attends a choice school than if the kid attends a government school. We must equalize funding to equalize choice. The current rate in Wisconsin is $16,017 per child. The full funding should follow the child.

 

Next, we should implement rigorous, focused, testing of core subjects for all schools that receive funding. The taxpayers are paying for a quality education and deserve to know that their money is being well spent. The key, however, is that the testing must only test true core subjects and not impose any other strictures on the schools. If 70% of the children are proficient in reading, writing, math, and civics, then that is more than twice as good as the current government schools are delivering. We should use the power of the purse to demand very high standards in a very limited number of key subjects.

 

Once the funding and testing infrastructure is in place, Wisconsin should privatize all K-12 government schools. All of them. We should get government out of the business of delivering education.

 

When I have suggested privatization in the past, people tend to have one of two sincere reservations. Some folks worry about for-profit schools. We have been culturalized to think that profit is incongruous with education. It is not. Capitalism and the profit motive have improved the lives of more people than any other system in the history of humankind. They have lifted people out of poverty and cured diseases. Education is not immune from its benefits. From a taxpayer perspective, if a school can deliver 96% reading proficiency and make a profit, we should be delighted.

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0740, 20 September 2022

20 Comments

  1. jonnyv

    I think that the education system needs an overhaul. I am not completely opposed to public funds going to a private school. But I would require a few things.

    1. Rigorous testing.
    2. NO RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS. Period. No school that is associated with a religious institution or teaches any sort of religious class should be receiving my tax dollars.
    3. Schools must be REQUIRED to take local students over bussed in students. There can be NO turning away any students or removing students for anything other than disciplinary issues that are looked at by a 3rd party.
    4. Schools are required to pay for all bussing / transportation for any student that requests it.

    As a father of someone who has serious special needs, there can be NO option for a school to turn away a student who needs extra help and thereby costs. My daughter is almost in need of a one-on-one support person who would probably cost the school an additional $15 grand a year in support.

    But for your idea of completely privatizing K-12 is bad. Why would ANY private school ever open in the most needy parts of the cities? So you just plan on leaving them high and dry?

    Capitalism doesn’t solve every issue.

  2. dad29

    So, JV: you’re of the opinion that every Court in Wisconsin plus SCOTUS is wrong about sending money to religious schools?

    You should explain where they went wrong.

  3. dad29

    Apparently you don’t read much, JV. There’s a very successful private/Choice school (St Augie’s) located on S. 6th Street not far from Lincoln Ave. Another one, St Anthony’s, is on 9th/Mitchell. The oldest (?) Choice private school is located dead in the middle of Milwaukee’s inner core, and they are NOT the only three.

  4. Jason

    Those points are all too big to fit on bumper stickers, so jv won’t have a response for you…

  5. jonnyv

    Jason, your obsession with me is starting to border on creepy. You may want to seek counseling.

    DAD29. Yes, I do disagree with sending money to religious schools. Just because the courts rule one way doesn’t mean that they are right, or that they won’t change the position in years to come. We have seen it recently. But I also think that churches should not be tax exempt, tax them like any other for-profit business. No one would stop them from spinning off the school as a separate entity and running a FOR PROFIT school.

    I do know some of the laws when it comes to School Choice, as my wife worked for a charter school (not associated with a church, but located under a church & nunnery) for 7 years. So I DO know that in order to qualify for the Choice Program they can’t require any sort of religion classes.

  6. Merlin

    >3. Schools must be REQUIRED to take local students over bussed in students. There can be NO turning away any students or removing students for anything other than disciplinary issues that are looked at by a 3rd party.

    Good idea but would require MPS to actually improve neighborhood schools to elevate the education playing field. That’s just not their gig. Never has been.

    Lived three blocks from a better neighborhood MPS school when my first born was ready for kindergarten, but he was assigned to another elementary school 37 blocks away… and it was my responsibility to get him to and from school each day. Questions about his assignment were dismissed as if we were simply captive to their system. We made other choices and never looked back.

  7. Tuerqas

    >Just because the courts rule one way doesn’t mean that they are right, or that they won’t change the position in years to come. We have seen it recently. But I also think that churches should not be tax exempt, tax them like any other for-profit business.

    I agree with both points. However, I think your conclusion is backwards on the first point. If it is ultimately wrong to give religious schools tax money, it will be overturned in the future. Currently it has been approved and the rules should be lived by, even the people who disagree. Your belief essentially states that anyone who thinks a law will be overturned does not have to follow it?
    I totally agree that religious ‘schools’ should lose any exempt status they may have if they start any sort of ‘for profit’ system.

  8. jonnyv

    T, I did not say it shouldn’t be followed, just that I personally disagree with it.

  9. Mar

    “Next, we should implement rigorous, focused, testing of core subjects for all schools that receive funding.”
    I know I am in the minority but I disagree.
    Having personally witnessed this, teachers are teaching to the test and forgetting to teach everything else.
    The teachers and administrators know what will be on the test and they teach those subjects strictly on the test.
    Then the teacher mostly gets graded on their kid’s performance on the tests
    Those are for the core subjects.
    And in some school districts, they subject severely disabled students to teaching the core subjects as opposed to teaching social, job, daily live and other basic skills.

  10. Mar

    Johnny, why you can’t have your child transferred to another school district?
    When I taught in Westfield, we had a student from the Adams school district. Adams paid the tuition and paid the parents to drive their child to Westfield everyday.

  11. jonnyv

    Mar, you are so unique sometimes. You go so far in one direction, just to come back and be genuine and caring. Enigma.

    My daughter spent thru 4th grade in an MPS school. And we were very happy with the care that she got. We are now in Bayside and absolutely LOVE the staff that works with her (For the taxes I pay, I sure would hope so). Her school was just awarded a 2022 National Blue Ribbon School.

    I do appreciate the concern for my family. I am happy to have a wife who has a Master’s degree in special education and currently works for a non-profit that is dedicated to kids with Down Syndrome. Without her guidance, I would be WAY more lost.

  12. Merlin

    >Her school was just awarded a 2022 National Blue Ribbon School.

    Show those folks some love every chance you get.

  13. jonnyv

    Merlin, we do. We have showered small gifts on every teacher that my daughter has had for Xmas and end of year. When we have an IEP, there is usually no less than 7 teachers and assistants in that room with us evaluating her.

    As I have said, I am very lucky my wife knows virtually every law regarding special needs children and advocating for them. (At one point my wife was on the state birth-to-3 committee appointed by Scott Walker).

  14. dad29

    churches should not be tax exempt, tax them like any other for-profit business. No one would stop them from spinning off the school as a separate entity and running a FOR PROFIT school.

    FOR PROFIT?

    Perhaps you can name a few “For Profit” churches–or church sponsored schools, JV. Then we can discuss reality instead of some straw-man.

    Happy to note your (far-) better half is working with Downs kids!

  15. jonnyv

    Dad29, That is the thing, there are not “For Profit” churches. But, having travelled recently to TX and MN. I have seen some Mega Churches. And I recently went to a funeral in MN and the church I was at had a better Audio/Video room/equipment than most news stations. Easily 200K in equipment and cameras. And it was one of 8 churches in their group.

    I don’t have an issue with religion or churches. I just think they SHOULD be taxed like any other for-profit business.

  16. dad29

    Yah, well, at this point in time the ‘public benefit’ outweighs the supposed taxes, and will continue to do so.

    You keep declaring that these churches are “for profit.” I do not think you know the meaning of the terms you throw around.

  17. jonnyv

    Dad29, I am sure there are many churches that use the money raised to do great things in their neighborhood and donate lots of money. But when I see a small matching fleet of cars all belonging to the church and hundreds of thousands in AV equipment. I start to question WHO is all this money benefiting most.

    And feel free to point me where I said ANY churches are “for profit”. I just keep saying we should TREAT them as such. Maybe you should re-read the comments I made again and again until you understand.

  18. Mar

    I have no problem with for profit schools as long as they have safe facilities and good education.
    Yes, there have been bad for profit schools but there are many, many failing public schools.
    I could start a school for severely disabled students and it would be be pretty damn good.
    But if I started a school focusing on math and science, well, it would pretty much suck.

  19. dad29

    Sept 20, 2:38 PM:

    tax them like any other for-profit business

    You have a different English language, JV?

    You called churches ‘for profit,’ just like other businesses. The key word is “other.”

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