Boots & Sabers

The blogging will continue until morale improves...

Author: Owen

Oregon Decriminalizes Hard Drugs. The Expected Happens.

Well, the expected happened for people who actually understand how addiction works.

When voters passed the state’s pioneering Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act in 2020, the emphasis was on treatment as much as on decriminalizing possession of personal-use amounts of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and other drugs.

 

But Oregon still has among the highest addiction rates in the country. Fatal overdoses have increased almost 20% over the previous year, with over a thousand dead. Over half of addiction treatment programs in the state lack capacity to meet demand because they don’t have enough staffing and funding, according to testimony before lawmakers.

 

Supporters want more states to follow Oregon’s lead, saying decriminalization reduces the stigma of addiction and keeps people who use drugs from going to jail and being saddled with criminal records. How Oregon is faring will almost certainly be taken into account if another state considers decriminalizing.

 

[…]

 

Of 16,000 people who accessed services in the first year of decriminalization, only 0.85% entered treatment, the health authority said. A total of 60% received “harm reduction” like syringe exchanges and overdose medications. An additional 15% got help with housing needs, and 12% obtained peer support.

Terrible school performance demands real action

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

In this column last week, I lamented the abysmal performance of our government schools. At all levels, barely a third of our kids are at least proficient in language or math skills. In some cases, it is far less than a third. Such poor performance demands action. What would I do? I’m glad you asked.

 

Before we begin, we must understand a few things. We, the people, have a Constitutional and moral obligation to provide for the education of our children. An education is not only a valuable asset for an individual, but an educated citizenry is a prerequisite for sustained self-governance.

 

There is no requirement, however, that the government operate the means of delivering that education. In fact, as the data shows, the government is really terrible at delivering education. While we are compelled to pay for education with our tax dollars, we are also obligated to find the best means of delivering that education.

 

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.

 

Some folks also worry about schools that may teach values with which they disagree. They usually ignore the fact that our government schools are already teaching values with which many disagree, thus instigating controversy. Privatization must come with getting government away from dictating values and relegate it to simply enforcing core standards.

 

With diversity of schools, we may have schools that teach values rooted in Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Critical Race Theory, secularism, or any number of different value systems. We have a diverse society, and that diversity will be reflected in our schools. Families will choose and government will leave them alone to believe what they will. We should abandon the notion that we must have uniformity of beliefs in order to have uniformity in education funding. If we truly believe in diversity, then we must actually practice it.

 

In all actions, we must be obsessive about educational outcomes and unapologetic about demanding them. If we can double proficiency in reading, writing, and math, our children will be equipped to build better futures for themselves and our entire society will benefit. If we can triple proficiency (sadly, there is room to triple it), the individual and societal benefits are immeasurable.

 

That is what I would do. What would you do to improve education for our kids?

COVID Money Stolen by the Fistful

I sincerely think that this was intentional. The rules for getting so much of this money were so lax and so arbitrary that it appeared designed for fraud and grift. I think politicians didn’t really care because they thought that getting the money into the economy in any fashion was more important. They also winked at friends and supporters to get in on the gravy train. It’s unconscionable.

Fraudsters stole nearly $46billion in unlawful unemployment claims during the pandemic, the Labor Department concluded on Thursday – while warning that the actual figure may be even higher.

 

Criminals used inventive measures to access the COVID benefits, with more than 205,000 Social Security numbers that belonged to dead people being used to claim the cash.

Mayor Dismisses Concerns about Violence

Well, that’ll encourage people to stay.

Lightfoot was asked about last week’s comments by Kempczinski to the Economic Club of Chicago where he referenced the recent departures of high-profile companies such as Caterpillar, Boeing and Citadel from the area and said the city needed to “face facts.” He said that “while it may wound our civic pride to hear it, there is a general sense out there that our city is in crisis” and noted that there are “fewer large companies headquartered in Chicago this year than last year.”

 

At her customary post-City Council press conference Wednesday, Lightfoot used one of her favorite lines to rebut criticism.

 

“What would have been helpful is for the McDonald’s CEO to educate himself before he spoke,” Lightfoot said.

Putin’s Conscripts

Tragic. It also indicates how dangerous a time we are in. Putin’s Russia has proven to be a paper tiger, but they still have WMDs – and not just nukes. Desperate people do desperate things.

The first batch of Russian conscripts began shipping out for Ukraine today, as Putin tries to plug holes in his armies after they were mauled at Kyiv’s hands.

 

Men – many of whom appeared middle-aged – were filmed waving goodbye to their families in the far-eastern province of Yakutia as they were loaded on to buses for the long journey west, to the killing fields of Donbas, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.

 

Military commissars marshaled them away less than 24 hours after Putin declared the start of Russia’s first mobilisation since the Second World War in a desperate attempt to stop his brutal invasion from collapsing.

 

There were even reports that some of the 1,400 activists arrested last night for protesting the move were being handed conscription papers inside police stations, despite Putin’s promise to only send those with combat experience.

 

Analysts and experts have given the new conscripts little chance of survival, saying they are likely to be given little or no training before being thrown on to the frontline as ‘cannon fodder’.

Evers’ Semi-Retired Work Ethic

If you wonder why it was so easy for government officials to close down your business or force people to stay home or create mandates that put people out of work… this is why. Throughout the pandemic when people were out of work, businesses were going under, and paychecks were squeezed, our governor was putting in 30-hour weeks and getting home to his taxpayer-funded mansion in time for Wheel every day. All the while, he never missed a paycheck; never had to sit across the table from a valued employee and tell them that they didn’t have a job anymore; never had to tell his wife that they needed to cut household expenses because his hours were cut; none of it. Evers, like all of the other politicians who put millions of people out of work, continued on completely immune from the negative effects of their decisions. Other than wearing a mask and finding his favorite restaurant closed, Evers felt no impact from his decisions.

Empower Wisconsin compared the governor’s calendars for the first week in February in the years 2019, 2020, and 2021. This is historically a busy week for a governor. The Legislature was in session, and Evers was preparing a budget in two of the years. He was also dealing with a pandemic and related problems. But the governor kept a relatively light schedule. He averaged just under 36 hours of total official government work, according to his calendars.

 

For the week around February 15 in 2019, ’20 and ’21, Evers averaged just 33 1/2 hours per week. And for the last week of February, he worked on average just over 20 hours.

 

On Wednesday Feb. 27, 2019, Evers put in just over six hours of official business, according to his calendar. That included a 45-minute breakfast with Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes and a half hour of drive time back and forth between the Executive Mansion and the Capitol. He got home at 2:45 p.m. The rest of the day is redacted.

 

The average Wisconsin worker logged nearly 42 hours per week last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average worker was paid a lot less than Tony Evers.

 

Over the last year-plus, Evers has been spending a lot more time on the road — or in the air, using the state plane. Much of that travel has to do with the billions of dollars in federal COVID aid the Democrat has been able to use as a kind of unregulated campaign slush fund. He’s handed out a lot of big checks, covered by the taxpayers of the United States of America. Despite his travels, Evers is generally back at the mansion in time to watch the “Wheel of Fortune.”

 

It’s not all work and no play. A few days before Christmas last year, Evers jumped on the state plane for a tour of the Potawatomi Community Center and a pickleball match. It’s well known Evers is a big pickleball fan. His official day ended at 2:35 p.m.

 

Evers took the rest of the week (through the day after Christmas) off. There was one item listed on his Dec. 27 calendar: A phone call with President Biden, who also isn’t known for burning the midnight oil in office. His calendars show no activity on Tuesday, Dec. 28, just a quick COVID-19 Response check-in call the next day, and then very little on his schedule until Jan. 3. The governor apparently had settled his brain for a long winter’s nap.

Australian Central Bank Promises to Print More Money After COVID Losses

This is not good.

Australia’s central bank has revealed that it has lost A$44.9bn ($30bn; £26.3bn) on the bonds it bought as part of its efforts to support the country’s economy during the pandemic.

The Reserve Bank of Australia’s (RBA) deputy governor says that wiped out the bank’s profit for the 2021-22 year, leaving a net loss of A$36.7bn.

 

The bonds were accumulated under a A$300bn emergency stimulus programme.

 

However, the bank says the loss will not affect its normal operations.

 

“If any commercial entity had negative equity, assets would be insufficient to meet liabilities and therefore the company would not be a going concern,” RBA deputy governor Michele Bullock said.

“Since it has the ability to create money, the Bank can continue to meet its obligations as they become due,” she added.

Teen Killed After Getting into Wrong Car

This is a terribly tragic event, but it is also a really interesting case.

Carson Senfield, from Buffalo, New York, was shot dead at 1am on Saturday when he entered the stranger’s vehicle by mistake – but so far the unidentified shooter has not been arrested.

 

The sophomore, who was not known to the driver, was shot in the upper body and now the State’s Attorney is to decide whether the motorist was justified in killing the teen under Florida’s controversial ‘Stand Your Ground Law’.

 

[…]

 

The driver inside that car said he was in fear of his life when he shot and killed Seinfeld, according to investigators.

 

Tampa Police Department said that the driver was not arrested – and it’s now up to the State Attorney’s Office to decide if the shooter was justified in his actions or not.

Horrible, horrible, horrible event. But was it a crime?

It’s 1 am and some strange man gets in your car unannounced. We don’t really know what the behavior was, but the driver thought he was in danger and reacted. Did he think he was being carjacked? Robbed? Kidnapped? It could have been anything.

I’ve ridden Uber and Lyft hundreds of times. I don’t think I’ve ever just gotten into a car. Usually there is an exchange of greetings and I wait for the driver to say my name so that I know that he or she is actually on the other end of the app. I also check the license plate with the app. If I just jumped into a car uninvited, might the driver panic and take action? Maybe. I might if I were the driver.

I think it all comes down to whether or not we believe that it is reasonable for the driver to feel endangered when a man jumps in his car at 1 am.

Still, what a horrible loss for the family and a tragic death.

Liberty Burns Bright in the Hearts if Iranian Women

What courage.

Female protesters have been at the forefront of escalating protests in Iran and have been burning headscarves, after the death in custody of a woman detained for breaking hijab laws.

Demonstrations have continued for five successive nights, and reached several towns and cities.

 

Mahsa Amini died in hospital on Friday after spending three days in a coma.

 

In Sari, north of Tehran, large crowds cheered as women set their hijabs alight in defiant acts of protest.

 

Ms Amini was arrested in the capital last week by Iran’s morality police, accused of breaking the law requiring women to cover their hair with a hijab, or headscarf, and their arms and legs with loose clothing.

She fell into a coma shortly after collapsing at a detention centre.

Democrat GAM Kills Republican Teenager

When it comes to actual political violence and not just words, the balance seems decidedly tilted to the Left. What a monster.

Early Sunday morning, 41-year-old Shannon Brandt allegedly ran over 18-year-old Cayler Ellingson with his car following a political dispute in McHenry, North Dakota.

After being charged on Monday with vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of a deadly accident, Brandt admitted that his actions were politically motivated.

 

[…]

 

Brandt later called police himself to report the incident. As InForum reports, he claimed that Ellingson had been part of a “Republican extremist group,” and had ordered others to come after him following a political argument.

According to police, Brandt was drunk at the time, however aside from that, very little is known about what transpired.

Judge Rules That People Under Felony Indictment Can Buy Guns

The ruling seems sound.

Banning someone from buying a gun while under felony indictment goes against their Second Amendment right to bear arms, a federal judge in Texas ruled Monday.

 

“There are no illusions about this case’s real-world consequences—certainly valid public policy and safety concerns exist,” U.S. District Judge David Counts, a Trump appointee, wrote in his decision.

 

Counts cited a June Supreme Court decision, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association vs. Bruen, in which the justices rolled back concealed-carry permit restrictions for gun owners in New York state.

 

Counts’ opinion relied heavily on the framework set out by the high court in Bruen, saying that it was unclear after that ruling “whether a statute preventing a person under indictment from receiving a firearm aligns with this Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.”

 

[…]

 

“No longer can courts balance away a constitutional right. After Bruen, the Government must prove that laws regulating conduct covered by the Second Amendment’s plain text align with this Nation’s historical tradition. The Government does not meet that burden,” Counts found.

This complies with due process. If a person is not convicted, they can certainly exercise other rights. It stands to reason that the 2nd Amendment shouldn’t be precluded.

It is unclear to me if a judge could make a prohibition to purchase firearms a condition of parole. It seems that it would be a way for a judge to lay this restriction on defendants who have a history of, and/or are accused of violent crimes, while still providing them due process. The problem with a blanket prohibition is that it is arbitrary and does not distinguish between violent felonies and white-collar felonies.

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.

Biden’s Show Up Late and Seated in Back

SMH

After arriving hand in hand, the Bidens finally sat down in their places in the abbey at 10.05am. The schedule published by Buckingham Palace suggested the 500 invited dignitaries should have been seated between 9.35am and 9.55am.

 

Perhaps as a consequence of opting out of the buses taking other leaders from the assembly point at Royal Hospital Chelsea, the Bidens were also given seats 14 rows back in the south transept of the abbey.

 

The US president took his seat behind Andrzej Duda, the president of Poland, and in front of Petr Fiala, the prime minister of the Czech Republic. Sitting to her husband’s left, Jill Biden sat next to Ignazio Cassis, the president of Switzerland.

Illegals From Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua Flood Border

We are importing the violence and communism from those totalitarian countries at a record pace. The great melting pot can’t keep up.

CNN — 

US Customs and Border Protection encounters along the US-Mexico border have already topped 2 million so far this fiscal year, according to newly released agency data, with migration from countries like Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba driving numbers up.

In August, migrant encounters jumped to 203,598 along the US southern border, data shows. Of those, 22% involved people who crossed more than once.

Two million. TWO MILLION. That is almost 40% of the population of Wisconsin. This is a humanitarian disastrous, and it is being intentionally perpetrated by the Biden Administration. It is also destabilizing the entire Western hemisphere. This won’t end well, but it must end.

Are Debates Worth It?

There is a reason that this is happening.

For much of modern American history, debates have been seen as a more or less essential part of any major political campaign. As much as candidates might squabble over the details ahead of time or claim they were mistreated after the fact, it was broadly assumed that they would at some point — or, frequently, more than once — meet in a formal face-off in front of the voters.

 

But that tradition has eroded over recent election cycles to the point where it’s become a genuine question whether some of the most important races in this year’s midterms might feature any debates at all. In state after state, candidates have been squabbling over the timing, circumstances and number of debates.

I remember the days, dork that I am, when I would eagerly watch debates. They could be fun. But I have increasingly found them to be fairly useless exercises with the only purpose to catch a “gotcha” that can be used in an ad. I think the problem largely rests in how scripted and moderated they have become. Panelists ask questions and control the time. Candidates are forced to condense answers to complex questions into 30 second bites. Everything is conducted with a sense of fear as consultants warn their clients to say as little as possible.

I would much rather that debates actually be a debate between the two candidates. Something like a freeform back and forth where they discuss a single issue for 20 minutes at a stretch. It would force candidates to give thorough answers or cede the time to the opponent. If one candidate takes control and won’t let the other speak, the voters might not look to kindly on it. But at least it would be a debate about issues without the disruptive constructs of silly questions and arbitrary time limits. Put the gloves on and have it out.

Denver Plans for Basic Income Experiment – No Men Allowed

I bet all of the drug dealers are looking forward to the boom market conditions.

Denver is set to provide 140 homeless transgender and non-binary people with $12,000 in no-strings-attached cash to help lift them out of destitution – and combat the squalid encampments and soaring crime rates plaguing the Mile-High City.

 

The city has allocated $2million from the American Rescue Plan Act to fund the program, which will be run by the Denver Basic Income Project to mainly get women, transgender and non-binary people housed.

 

The total program, which will cost up to $9million, is seeking to help around 820 people, but the $2million provided by the city will fund around 140 people.

 

[…]

 

The participants – which will mainly be women, transgender and gender non-confirming individuals – will be chosen at random after applying and will more than likely begin receiving payments starting in November, according to ABC 7 Denver.

Martha’s Vinyard Reflects on Brush with Illegals

This story is so rich for so many reasons that the author did not intend. It reeks of the privilege that they don’t even see.

The asylum seekers howed Stallings cell phone video taken during the journey across a remote Central American jungle, pointing out migrants who died along the way.

“It was like she was showing me cat videos but it was actually their journey and what they endured to get here,” said Stallings, a member of the Martha’s Vineyard Community Services nonprofit. “There were bodies and moms with babies trying to get through mud that was like clay.”

“The heartbreaking part is seeing these beautiful young ladies become desensitized,” said her husband, Larkin Stallings, 66, an Oak Bluffs bar owner who sits on the nonprofit’s board. “For them, they just flip and show you a picture.”

Indeed. It is heartbreaking. And it’s been happening for years. Thanks for waking up and realizing that this is a human travesty.

Martha’s Vineyard had not been expecting them but a small army of activists mobilized to help people who had become pawns in the contentious debate over America’s broken immigration system.

Notice how they paint themselves as heroes? Saviors? Another way to read this is that they mobilized law enforcement and military forces to get the illegals off their island as soon as possible. They were a 44-hour intrusion on the residents’ otherwise idyllic lives.

“I want them to have a good life,” she said. “I want the journey they experienced and the hardships they experienced to have been worth it for them and their families. I want them to come to America and be embraced. They all want to work. And I just I want their journey to have a happy ending.”

She wants that for them… just not on Martha’s Vinyard. She wants them to have all of that as long as it’s somewhere else. That’s easy, unintrusive, sentimentalism. It is not as easy when they actually stay in your community for months or years and your entire infrastructure sags under the weight of their need.

In Mexico, Torrealba said, the couple and other migrants were briefly abducted by members of the Zetas cartel, a violent drug trafficking organization. When he told them he could not make the extortion payment to allow them to continue, he said, a cartel member used pliers to pull out his two gold teeth.

Again. The is pervasive. Biden’s border policies are fueling the cartels and making casual cruelty the norm.

“We’ve got their backs and they are not alone. And to that end, I would like to specifically thank Trader Fred for donating underwear because Martha’s Vineyard doesn’t have a Walmart down the street,” she said, referring to the migrants and a local retailer who stepped up to help them.

Again with the privilege. As if they are ill-equipped to supply 50 illegals because they don’t have a Walmart. But those scratchy border towns have Walmarts, so they are fine.

“The governor of Florida got it wrong,” he said. “I think he thought we wouldn’t know what to do. And actually people here really give a damn. They really care.”

Did he get it wrong? The residents of Martha’s Vinyard gave a damn for all of 44 hours before whisking the illegals off the island. Meanwhile they pat themselves on the back for their compassion. Compassion is easy when you only have to maintain it for less than two days.

The migrants “will be housed in dormitory-style spaces … with separate spaces accommodating both individuals and families,” and families will not be separated, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker’s office said in a news release. They will have access to services including legal, health care, food, hygiene kits, and crisis counseling.

“I kept telling them it was like a dormitory. I didn’t want to say you’re going to a military base,” she said. “We want to go make sure they’re OK.”

So you lied to them. It’s not a dorm. It’s a military base.

And in the end, DeSantis and Abbot were right. The illegals have access to services in northern states too.

Jewish University Resists State Coercion

It’s a shame that they are forced into this position.

(Reuters) – Yeshiva University, ordered by a judge to formally recognize an LGBT student group even as the Jewish school in New York City argues that doing so would violate its religious values, on Friday announced that it has halted the activities of all its undergraduate student clubs as it plans its next steps.

 

Yeshiva’s announcement came two days after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to block New York state judge Lynn Kotler’s June ruling that the university is subject to a city anti-discrimination law and must recognize the club called Y.U. Pride Alliance.

 

Citing upcoming Jewish holidays, Yeshiva said in an email to students that “the university will hold off on all undergraduate club activities while it immediately takes steps to follow the roadmap provided by the US Supreme Court to protect YU’s religious freedom.”

Hackers Hit IHG

Given the damage that hackers do, I do think that the criminal penalties should be much, much higher.

Hackers have told the BBC they carried out a destructive cyber-attack against Holiday Inn owner Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) “for fun”.

Describing themselves as a couple from Vietnam, they say they first tried a ransomware attack, then deleted large amounts of data when they were foiled.

 

They accessed the FTSE 100 firm’s databases thanks to an easily found and weak password, Qwerty1234.

An expert says the case highlights the vindictive side of criminal hackers.

 

[…]

“Our attack was originally planned to be a ransomware but the company’s IT team kept isolating servers before we had a chance to deploy it, so we thought to have some funny [sic]. We did a wiper attack instead,” one of the hackers said.

Step 1: Admit that you have a problem

Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News this week. It is particularly apropos in light of the state DPI releasing their budget request asking for more and more money.

The data is telling. The more we have spent on K-12 education, the worse the results have gotten. If we are to make data-driven decisions, there are only two conclusions. 1) There is no correlation between money spent and educational outcomes. The outcomes are a result of other inputs. 2) There is a negative correlation between money spent and educational outcomes. More money actually results in poorer outcomes.

Personally, I think the answer is #2. Here’s why: once basic needs are funded (we did that a long time ago), more money becomes a distraction from core education. Every administrator, department, specialist, etc. who is hired is looking for something to do. They create new curriculum, new programs, change standards, create study committees, have meetings, and on and on and on. All of that is time that is not being spent in classrooms teaching core subjects in proven ways.

This happens in corporate America too. When companies get fat, they spend a lot of time-wasting energy around the edges of their core businesses and profits erode. That’s why the market tends to love it when a company cuts fat in a deep layoff.

Anyway, here’s the column. Look at the data:

The first step in the renowned twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous is to admit that you have a problem. One cannot begin the path to recovery if one does not admit to having a problem. Well, Wisconsin has a huge problem. Our government education system is utterly failing our kids and it is getting worse every year. Our governor, Tony Evers, with a lifetime spent in government education, accepts such failure as normal and acceptable. It is not.

 

According to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, every significant benchmark of student achievement is in freefall since well before the abysmal response of government schools accelerated the decline. Student proficiency on the ACT is down.

 

Between 2016-2017 and 2020-2021, the percentage of Wisconsin eleventh graders who were proficient or better on the English language arts part of the ACT, which measures understanding of English, writing, and knowledge of language, dropped from 39.5% to 33%. That is a 16.4% drop in scores in five years.

 

Math scores are even worse. Over the same time span, the percentage of Wisconsin’s eleventh graders who were proficient or better at mathematics dropped from 35.7% to 25.5%. That is a 28.6% drop in proficiency in just five years.

 

The story is the same for the ACT Aspire, which is given to ninth and tenth graders. Proficiency in English dropped from 41.2% to 32.4% between 2016-2017 and 2020-2021. In Mathematics, proficiency dropped from 37.1% to 29.8%. Those are declines of 21.4% and 19.7%, respectively.

 

Looking at the younger students between third and eight grades who take the Forward exams, the decline remains consistent and persistent. On the Forward exam over the same five years, the number of students who were proficient or better in English language arts declined 24.1% from 44.4% to 33.7%. In mathematics, their scores declined 21.5% from 42.8% to 33.6%.

 

But let us step back from the cold numbers for a moment and put them in perspective. The fact than only 33.7% of Wisconsin’s students between third and eighth grades are at least proficient in English language arts is abysmal. According to the DPI, the Forward Exam tests what, “students should know and be able to do in order to be college and career ready.” That means that barely a third of Wisconsin’s students are meeting grade-level standards to be ready to attend college or start a career. Only one in three of Wisconsin’s kids are proficient in English or math — two key skills for success as an adult.

 

What the heck are we doing? Is that really good enough? Two-thirds of our kids are falling behind and we collectively shrug and accept it? Have we been so cowed by the government education bullies that we are willing to accept that their failure is normal and satisfactory?

 

Our governor thinks it is. On his campaign website, he brags about his accomplishments on education. As proof, he noticeably fails to mention anything about student achievement. Instead, he cites the fact that the state spends more money than ever on K-12 education. If the spending is not resulting on better results for our kids, then what is the point?

 

In fact, the more we spend, the worse our student achievement is getting. According to DPI data, between the 2016-2017 and 2020-2021 school years, total state and local spending on government K-12 schools ballooned 14.8% from $11.5 billion to $13.2 billion. Over the same period, total enrollment declined 3.6% from 855,307 to 823,827 students. That is a whopping 19% increase in spending per student over just five years.

 

What are we getting for our money? Why are we continuing to pump more money into government bureaucracy who produces increasingly poor results every year? Governor Tony Evers recently announced that he wants to spend an additional $2 billion on K-12 schools. Given that a $1.7 billion increase in spending over the last five years resulted in a 24.1% drop in English scores on the Forward exam, will another $2 billion push scores down further?

 

Like any addiction, spending more money on it makes it worse because the spending obscures the real problems. In Wisconsin, we have been failing our kids and making ourselves feel better about it by spending more money on them. They do not need more money. They need a quality education and our government education establishment is increasingly unable or unwilling to give them that education.

 

It is time to stop. Stop the excessive spending. Stop the pretending that our government education system works. Stop accepting abysmal performance as normal or acceptable. Stop rewarding failure. Admit that we have a real problem and we are failing our kids at every grade level.

 

We cannot begin on the path to fixing our government education system until we admit that it has failed. As a lifelong insider of that system, Governor Tony Evers is never going to take the first step to recovery. We need a governor who will.

 

We need a governor who will focus on outcomes instead of inputs. We need a governor who will value our kids more than the system. Let me rephrase that … our kids need a governor who will value them more than government workers. Tony Evers is not that governor.

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