Boots & Sabers

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0817, 22 Nov 22

Millions for education. Not one penny for failure.

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

To be frank, watching someone brag about our government education system when less than half of our kids can read at grade level makes me angry. They should be angry at such failure. It makes a lot of parents angry. It should make you angry. Republicans should be angry about it. Not only is fixing education a moral imperative, but it is also good politics. Whichever party actually fixes education and gets more than 96% of our kids reading at grade level will stay in power for decades.

 

I am firmly convinced that the best and fastest path to quality education for everyone is to privatize our education system. Getting the government out of the business of delivering education and unleashing the power of competition is the proven path to performance. Unfortunately, with a governor who is a wholly owned subsidiary of the state teachers union, such needed reform is unrealistic. Governor Evers has shown that there is no length to which he will not go, and no bill he will not veto, in order to protect the monied interests of the government-education-industrial complex.

 

In light of the political realities, the Republican leadership will not be able to make the substantial changes necessary to radically improve educational outcomes. What they will be able to do, and what they must do, is become the party of accountability. Over the last five years, state taxpayers have increased spending on education by 19% to over $16,000 per student. This was during a period when people were losing their jobs, paychecks were shrinking, and inflation was just beginning to bite.

 

What did taxpayers get for their generosity and willingness to invest in education? Dumber kids. Over that same five-year period, the slow decline that was happening before the pandemic accelerated into collapse after many government educators abandoned kids to their illiteracy while continuing to collect their paychecks.

 

Legislative Republicans must tie funding to performance and force the closure of failing schools. Speaker Robin Vos has floated the idea of passing a bill that couples universal school choice with more spending on government schools. This idea is flawed because Evers has the most powerful veto pen in the nation and could simply veto school choice while accepting the spending increase.

 

Instead, Republicans should freeze education spending at its already inflated level and impose performance goals for continued funding. There is no reason that taxpayers should pay for a school where less than 20% of kids can read. Funding failure is explicit support for failure. Republicans must stop supporting failure like the Democrats and become the real party of education.

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0817, 22 November 2022

12 Comments

  1. MjM

    Dumber kids.

    That’s the intention. Creating pliable lemmings ensures unending future support and, more importantly, funding.

    Republicans should freeze education spending…

    No, they should cut it by at least 50%. There is no justification for spending 16 grand per student other than to support and encourage excessive administration, ever-expanding irrelevant and non-education curricula, and line the pockets of unionists.

    They should then dismantle the DOI, “The state agency that advances public education”.

    (Anyone else see the problem with that self-proclamation?)

  2. Mar

    Privatize schools, that’s not going to happen, so let’s be realistic.
    Let’s look why kids are dumber than the previous generation.
    Yes, the pandemic had a major part of the dumbing down of the current crop of kids but the downfall started before the pandemic.
    It really started with No Children Left Behind that was signed by W Bush.
    Now, teachers are teaching to the yearly tests students get. Instead of focusing on a general subject matter, teachers now teach to specific specific items that will be on the yearly tests.
    Then you have other problems with teachers, many feel emboldened to teach their political views.
    And of course, you have the problem of predator teachers who have replaced the clergy as the new sexual abusers of children.
    Add this all up, no wonder you having a failing education system, both public and private.

  3. dad29

    they should cut it by at least 50%.

    Yes.

    Unfortunately, the DPI is a constitutional office in Wisconsin. But the CESAs could be axed.

  4. jonnyv

    What’s wrong with education now? It isn’t the public schools. It is the parents. Look at what schools do well, usually in affluent areas where parents have the luxury of dedicating more time to their kids and their education. Where are kids struggling? Many times where parents don’t have the resources to help their kids or the environment is not productive for them to do so.

    All that will happen when you create privatized schools is that we will see which parents actually act on the education choice and probably show more involvement.

    And what happens when you “privatize” schools? Do you force private institutions to open up shop in the worst areas of the cities? Do you force them to pay for bussing students? Or are you suggesting that we just leave those students behind? What sort of say does a privatized school have in applications and entrants? Special needs students, can they decline entry if they know that the costs to teach that student will heavily outweigh the tax money brought in? I have harped on this for a few years now. Until you can adequately answer the questions of privatization of the schools and equity for students, there is no way you can even begin to privatize.

    Lets see how enticing it is when your school has to accept the student with CP who can’t walk and needs assistance using the restroom and has a feeding tube. The student who randomly SCREAMS in the middle of class and begins to bash their head on the desk. The student who needs extra assistance because they have sensory issues and needs headphones. The student who has Down Syndrome & Autism and is extremely difficult to keep in their chair and wants to run around. Because I just described the ENTIRE classroom that my daughter was in at Cooper Elementary School in Milwaukee (a phenomenal school BTW). Each student, one classroom.

  5. Merlin

    The majority of Wisconsin voters just told you, yet again, that they don’t care if their children can’t read. Public education has known this for quite awhile already and they serve that majority accordingly. Too many people prioritize the killing of their unborn over the education of their living children. Go figure.

    Yes, that’s some evil shit. And, yes, too many of your Pubbie neighbors are just fine with it. See it for what it is.

  6. Mar

    Jonny, I do agree with you in one way, public schools usually offer way better services to special education students.
    But when it comes to general education, the public school system really does suck. That really cannot be argued.

  7. Mar

    But I will say, many private schools are also going woke, so, do you really want to subsidize liberal woke schools?

  8. dad29

    Do you force private institutions to open up shop in the worst areas of the cities? Do you force them to pay for bussing students? Or are you suggesting that we just leave those students behind? What sort of say does a privatized school have in applications and entrants? Special needs students, can they decline entry if they know that the costs to teach that student will heavily outweigh the tax money brought in?

    Milwaukee has SEVERAL examples of private schools operating–successfully–in “poor” areas. That’s been the case for at least 20 years, although there are more of them now than at that time. Keep up with the news.

    No reason that the State can’t reimburse private schools at same rate as publics for SPEDs, by the way.

  9. Mar

    Yeah, Dad, but there also been failures and fraud as well
    Like it or not, but there has to be oversight on private schools

  10. MjM

    Unfortunately, the DPI is a constitutional office in Wisconsin…

    Only the position of education superintendent is directly constitutionally based….

    ARTICLE X.
    EDUCATION
    Superintendent of public instruction. SECTION 1. [As amended Nov. 1902 and Nov. 1982] The supervision of public instruction shall be vested in a state superintendent and such other officers as the legislature shall direct; and their qualifications, powers, duties and compensation shall be prescribed by law.

    The constitution-based job of the superintendent is the equalized distribution of state public funds to “support and maintain common schools and the purchase of suitable libraries and apparatus” and to ensure that localities are raising enough funds as mandated to receive the state funds.

    Over time the legislature, as it has done with almost all state agencies, gave away it’s authority to add/create positions/sub-departments to the head of the agency. And DPI wasn’t created – by the legislature – until 1971.

  11. Mar

    “No reason that the State can’t reimburse private schools at same rate as publics for SPEDs, by the way.”
    Oh Dad, are you willing to pay $100,000’s for 1 special education student in a private school.
    Yes, some sped kids cost that much, if not more a year.

  12. dad29

    Like I said, MAR………no reason NOT to. And no reason not to examine the expenditure for efficiency. As you recall, a lot of “SPED” kids suddenly came out of the woodwork when extra funding became available.

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