Category Archives: Education

Experts Call to Reopen Schools

As usual, the greedy unions are taking advantage of the situation to push for more money.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield said Thursday that the health risks of keeping schools closed are greater than those of opening them, amid a push by President Trump to have students in classrooms this fall.

“I’m of the point of view as a public health leader in this nation, that having the schools actually closed is a greater public health threat to the children than having the schools reopen,” Redfield told The Hill’s Steve Clemons.

[…]

“I think really people underestimate the public health consequences of having the schools closed on the kids,” Redfield said at an event hosted by The Hill and sponsored by the Biosimilars Forum. “I’m confident we can open these schools safely, work in partnership with the local jurisdictions.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics has also called for students to return to classrooms, citing the educational and social harms to children of being away from school for a prolonged period of time.

But education groups like the American Association of School Administrators and the American Federation of Teachers say much more funding is needed to safely reopen schools, and that districts are already facing severe budget shortfalls due to the economic downturn sparked by the coronavirus.

New West Bend School District Superintendent Comments on Referendum, Reopening, Etc.

West Bend’s new school Superintendent is taking the helm. She has an interview in the Washington Daily News this morning and some really positive comments. Like this:

“We understand every family’s situation is unique and different, which may create risks, so now we’re planning for reopening for full face-to-face but having a full virtual option for families who would want that, and we’re examining what hybrid services would look like,” Wimmer said.

As I said in my column, this is the approach I fully support. And this:

As part of her transition working with Kirkegaard, Wimmer has considered the facilities challenges at length. She said she’s seen every inch of the facilities and knows the work that lies ahead.

“We have infrastructure needs and I do not see immediate relief in a referendum because we need to understand what the economy looks like and what our needs are,” she said. “They didn’t go away, but given everything else going on, it’s not the right time either.”

Agreed.

The new Super is off to a good start.

Back to school

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

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction has released an 87-page guidance for reopening K-12 schools this fall. The responsibility and plans for reopening actually falls to each individual public school district or private school, but the DPI offered a wide array of options for how to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19 while still educating kids.

Before getting into the details a bit on what schools could, and should, do to reopen, we must pause and come to agreement on a few underlying facts. First, while COVID-19 can be deadly for older people and those with underlying health conditions, it is exceedingly rare for people under the age of 20 to die from it. Far more of our children die from suicide, drug overdoses, traffic accidents, diarrheal diseases, cancer, or heart disease than from COVID-19. That is not to say that kids will not have serious complications or be carriers of the disease, but they are not at a high risk of dying from it. The school staff, however, are in a different risk category.

Second, education is a priority. This has become even clearer as we see wave after wave of ignorance-fueled hate wash over our communities. Education is a cure to a lot of social ills including bigotry, hubris, and avarice. Education is not only a well-trod path for individual success, it is the prerequisite for an advanced civilization. Some may have forgotten or ignored the importance of education in the panic over COVID-19, but we must not lose sight of it again. COVID-19 will be here forevermore and we may never have a vaccine. We must not let it lead to the abandonment of our kids’ education.

As schools get back to their mission this September, the DPI provides a number of different scenarios to consider depending on the grade level. These options include a four-day week, a two-day rotation, and a two-week rotation — all of which would be supplemented and supported by distance learning techniques and robust parental support. All of these options are designed to limit the number of kids in the school buildings and the time they spend there. What is conspicuously missing from the DPI’s guidance is a traditional five-day, in-person school week.

If there is anything we learned from the last few months in education, it is that for most kids, classroom teaching is the most effective way of delivering education. Some did great at distance learning, but many kids were left behind. And for some school districts, those kids were intentionally left behind as teachers failed to adapt to a different education delivery style.

Even in the Slinger School District, which was reputedly one of the districts that successfully pivoted to distance learning, a district survey revealed that 51.7% of respondents said their kids spent less than two hours a day learning. An overwhelming 76.1% of respondents are in favor of returning to a traditional, in-classroom learning environment.

School Districts throughout the state should get back to the business of educating kids on a full-time basis. There will need to be some reasonable changes to mitigate the spread of disease, whether it is COVID-19 or something else. Rigorous sanitation, routine hand washing, masks where appropriate, and quickly sending sick kids and staff members home should become the norm, but so should rigorous and routine education.

Also, accommodations must be made for kids and staff members who are at a higher risk by providing real distance learning alternatives. This does not mean broadcasting a class that is usually delivered in the classroom and sending some worksheets. This means designing education specifically to be delivered remotely. There are already several online public and private schools in Wisconsin that do a phenomenal job educating kids who learn better outside of the classroom. Wisconsin must learn from these schools, amplify their success, and waive restrictions to allow kids to transfer into those schools immediately.

Wisconsinites invest a tremendous amount of money, time, and effort into our K-12 education system precisely because we believe in the necessity and promise of education. It is past time for them to get back to doing the work our kids deserve.

Racial Gap in Teaching Profession?

Here’s a curious story in the Madison paper:

A new report shows the gap between the demographics of students and their teachers is not unique to the Madison Metropolitan School District.

While the gulf between students and teachers of color in MMSD is wider than the state as a whole, the Wisconsin Policy Forum published a report Tuesday showing it’s a statewide problem to address. The report, “A Teacher Who Looks Like Me,” details the lack of teachers in various racial and ethnic groups and explores what the numbers look like at each of the stages in the teacher education process.

[…]

In the 2018-19 school year, which the report uses for its statistics, 30.7% of students in Wisconsin public schools were students of color, while 5.6% of teachers were people of color. Ten years earlier, those numbers were 23.6% and 4.5%, respectively.

Locally, the difference is even more stark. In 2009, MMSD’s student body was 49.5% students of color, while its teaching staff was 10.2% teachers of color. In 2019, those numbers had widened to 57.8% students of color in the district compared to 13.6% of its teachers.

Follow the data. Here’s the full report from the Wisconsin Policy Forum. The complaint is that the racial makeup of the teaching staff doesn’t match that of the student body. This is true. BUT, the teacher workforce does more closely reflect the racial makeup of the population.

According to the Census Bureau, Madison is 78.4% white, 9% Asian, 6.8% Black, and a spattering of other races. In Madison, the teacher workforce at the Madison School District is 86.4% white and 13.6% other races. So the teacher workforce is slightly more white than the population, but the disparity is only 8%. There is work to do perhaps, but it is not as dire as the story tries to portray it.

Meanwhile, the student population in Madison Public Schools is only 42.2% white and 57.8% students of color.

What does this tell us? First, if we assume that the racial makeup of the student population mirrors the overall racial makeup of the population, it means that a LOT of white Madisonians are sending their kids to private or suburban schools. They are intentionally avoiding putting their kids in Madison Public Schools.

Second, it tells us that if Madison wants the racial makeup of their public school teachers to match that of the student population instead of the city’s population, then they will have to recruit nearly 60% of their teachers from less than 22% of the population. That’s a tall order. One might call it impossible without massive racial bias in recruiting and hiring practices.

I know it’s quaint, but perhaps we could educate our kids that people of all colors and genders are equal and have something to contribute. Perhaps we should teach our kids that how someone looks isn’t as important as what they do and say. As a dude, my education was provided almost exclusively by women. They didn’t look like me, but I sure did learn a lot. Would I have had a better education if the majority of my teachers were dudes like me? I seriously doubt it. When I lived as an expat as a child, almost all of my teachers were women of color and not Americans. Do I feel that I received a substandard education? Not at all. When I have had a substandard teacher, it was because they stank at their job – not because of their race, gender, or nationality.

Chasing an impossible goal of making the racial makeup of our public school teachers match that of the student population is an unattainable goal that has very little to do with actually providing a better education. It’s the content and quality of the teacher that matters far more than the teacher’s race or gender.

Back to School

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. We must open the schools:

School Districts throughout the state should get back to the business of educating kids on a full-time basis. There will need to be some reasonable changes to mitigate the spread of disease, whether it is COVID-19 or something else. Rigorous sanitation, routine hand washing, masks where appropriate, and quickly sending sick kids and staff members home should become the norm, but so should rigorous and routine education.

Also, accommodations must be made for kids and staff members who are at a higher risk by providing real distance learning alternatives. This does not mean broadcasting a class that is usually delivered in the classroom and sending some worksheets. This means designing education specifically to be delivered remotely. There are already several online public and private schools in Wisconsin that do a phenomenal job educating kids who learn better outside of the classroom. Wisconsin must learn from these schools, amplify their success, and waive restrictions to allow kids to transfer into those schools immediately.

Wisconsinites invest a tremendous amount of money, time, and effort into our K-12 education system precisely because we believe in the necessity and promise of education. It is past time for them to get back to doing the work our kids deserve.

Tommy Thompson to lead UW system

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

The University of Wisconsin System has been struggling to find a new system president to replace the retiring Ray Cross. After an exhaustive and expensive search that yielded a single final candidate, that candidate withdrew his application saying that, “it’s clear they have important process issues to work out.” Indeed, they do.

Last week, the University Of Wisconsin Board Of Regents paused their search for a permanent president and appointed former Gov. Tommy Thompson as an interim president for at least the next year. It is an inspired choice. The UW System is desperately in need of a fundamental transformation and Thompson is one of the few people who might be able to build enough unity to pull it off.

As Wisconsin’s only four term governor, Thompson is known as a pragmatic, consensus- building leader. He is also a cheerleader par excellence for everything Wisconsin. Wisconsin’s political landscape, however, is very different than when Thompson held power in Madison. Time will tell if Thompson can still build political bridges in this climate.

 

DPI Issues Guidance on Reopening Schools

If you’re curious, you can scroll through the 84 pages of “guidance” here.

Milwaukee Schools Kick Out Police

Lovely. Because THAT’s why MPS fails to educate so many kids.

The Milwaukee Board of School Directors voted unanimously to terminate its contract with the Milwaukee Police Department Thursday evening.

More than two dozen members of the public called in to express their support for the resolution, and board members received nearly 800 written messages about the planned vote.

We have enough research to know that a majority of our students, our students of color, are not treated with respect by the system,” said board member Paula Phillips, who co-introduced the resolution. “While we can try to make this work, it hasn’t been working.”

Director Sequanna Taylor, the other board member who drafted the resolution, agreed.

“If we’re going to address and have our students ready for success, then we need to have them in an environment that is successful,” she said.

This assumes that MPS is a successful environment irrespective of the police presence.

UW Campuses to Open In Fall

Excellent. Frankly, things like Mono, Meningitis, and STDs worry me more on a college campus than the Rona.

The UW System announced Sunday that all campuses would have some degree of in-person instruction this fall.

Leaders on each campus will make their own decisions on what exactly the fall semester will look like. But the system administration has released guidelines for how to reopen in the safest way possible.

“We know the on-campus experience is what our students want,” UW System President Ray Cross said in a statement. “At the same time, we must all recognize that our universities will be different this fall than what we’re used to and there will be campus-based decisions on how to best address particular issues. But students will be back on campus this fall.”

Only UW System President Finalist Withdraws

Back to square one.

“After deep reflection as to where I am called to lead a university system through these challenging times, it is clear to me and my family that it is in Alaska,” Johnsen said in a statement. “I appreciate the strong support from the search committee at Wisconsin, and for all those who supported my candidacy, but it’s clear they have important process issues to work out.”

Woke West Bend Graduates Push for Social Justice Agenda in District

This is apparently the educational outcome of the West Bend School District.

1. Make a statement regarding WBSD’s stance on current events regarding police brutality, systemic racism, and social justice.

2. Enhance and increase funding for counseling, youth programming, rehabilitative programs to replace outdated disciplinary action. Counselors or workers in these positions need to be required to complete anti-racism training.

3. Remove police liaisons from schools.

4. Establish new department or committee within Pupil Services devoted to Diversity, Inclusion, and Equitable Education.

5. Require anti-racism training and professional development for faculty: administrators, educators, aides, etc.
a. This should come from professional educators of color, with emphasis on Black educators.

6. Have a DAI representative at School Board Meetings as an accountability measure and to ensure decisions made are genuinely for the benefit and working towards “Excellence for All.”

7. Restructure social studies curriculums and mandate lessons on privilege, oppression, and systemic racism. Decolonize education by establishing ethnic studies requirements and incorporating Black
History into curriculums.

8. Establish a committee and funding for hiring and retaining Black educators.
a. Black counselors are also necessary in schools.

9. Inviting external Black educators to advise WBSD faculty in a professional development or mandatory training capacity.

10. Set community guidelines on what qualifies as hate speech and educate students on why it is considered hate speech.

UW System President Candidate Has History of Measured Cuts

Perhaps there is hope. UW needs someone who has experience with something like this given the oncoming budget crisis.

Last week, the UW System Administration office announced Johnsen as the only finalist to replace outgoing UW System President Ray Cross. The decision was met with some skepticism by faculty and staff members who felt they weren’t included in the selection process.

Others expressed worry over Johnsen’s recent role in cutting dozens of academic programs at the University of Alaska due to budget constraints, a fix that’s already been proposed by Cross as the UW System stares down financial challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic.

On Friday, the University of Alaska Board of Regents approved eliminating about 40 programs, including theater and sociology at the University of Alaska Anchorage and chemistry and earth science at University of Alaska Fairbanks.

During Tuesday morning’s call with stakeholders, Kathleen Dolan, a UW-Milwaukee political science professor, asked Johnsen how faculty and students would say he supported liberal arts education at the University of Alaska System given the cuts.

Johnsen suggested the outcome could have been worse. Last July, Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy proposed cutting the budget of the university system by 41 percent before that number was negotiated down to 20 percent over three years, Johnsen said.

Each of the system’s seven campuses then completed their own program reviews led by chancellors and provosts with students and faculty included in the process. They examined things like quality, access, cost and market demand before proposing programs to be eliminated. Several rounds of reviews were completed before any decisions were made, Johnsen said.

UW System Asks for Approval to Take On Massive Debt

Yes to the start date. No to everything else.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — University of Wisconsin President Ray Cross asked Gov. Tony Evers and legislative leaders Wednesday to call a special session of the Legislature to allow for UW to borrow money through a line of credit and possibly start classes earlier to help deal with “unprecedented financial and planning challenges” due to the coronavirus pandemic.

[…]

Cross noted that campuses have already furloughed and laid off employees and reduced costs. In order to have more flexibility, Cross asked for three general law changes:

— Grant a one-time exemption to allow for the school year to start earlier than Sept. 1, the earliest date allowed under state law. Cross noted that given the expectation of a spike in COVID-19 cases in the fall, many colleges want to start classes earlier and use an expedited scheduled to complete the fall semester by Thanksgiving.

— Give the university the ability to take out a line of credit to allow it to borrow money to get through the budget crisis posed by the pandemic. Cross noted that other universities are taking this step. Any debt created would be the responsibility of the university to pay back, not the state, Cross said.

— Relieve UW of many reporting requirements to free up resources, a move Cross said would “enhance the ability of our universities to be open in the broadest way possible this fall.”

Several universities are already doing an earlier start date. This allows them to complete the semester earlier and prevents an outbreak if everyone goes home for Thanksgiving and then returns to campus. This puts a burden on the businesses, including farms, who rely on summer labor, but is a sensible concession.

On the debt, Covid hit everyone hard and many people and businesses had to take huge hits to their incomes and value. By taking on debt, UW wants to avoid pain and shift it to the taxpayers or students in the form of guaranteed debt. There is so much fat in UW that they have a long way to go before the legislature should consider allowing them to outsource their pain to people who are already experiencing their own pain.

On the reporting, removing safeguards are a way to invite corruption and mismanagement. Perhaps they can streamline the reporting requirements, but they should not be abandoned for the sake of expediency.

West Bend School District Slams Through New Superintendent

They announced finalists on Tuesday and the selection was made on Thursday. So much for public input, getting to know the community, listening sessions, or any of the other things that usually happen. It looks like the disregard for the public isn’t just coming from Madison.

WEST BEND — The West Bend Joint School District #1 School Board has announced that a contract for superintendent of the district has been offered to Jennifer Wimmer.

According to a press release from the district, the board chose Wimmer due to her broad and established instructional leadership experience, in-depth expertise in instructional strategies, strength in collaboration and focus on increasing student learning. Once a contract has been approved, her start date will be July 1.

[…]

Wimmer has been the superintendent of the Maple Dale-Indian Hill School District in Fox Point for six years. She has also worked in the School District of Waukesha in various roles including assistant superintendent of student services, director of instruction, and executive director of elementary education. She has also been an elem entary school principal and a middle school associate principal. She began her career as a special education teacher. Wimmer earned a bachelor’s degree in special education from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She earned a master’s degree in educational leadership and a superintendent licensure from Cardinal Stritch University and will receive her doctorate in educational leadership from Cardinal Stritch University this year.

Never heard of the Maple Dale-Indian Hill School District before? That’s because it’s a tiny K-8 district with two buildings and about 400 total students. It’s about 6% the size of the West Bend School District.

Other than that, we don’t know much about Wimmer. We don’t have any impression of her personality, goals, communication skills, priorities, financial acumen, or anything else. The public has not been given any information other than a skeletal resume and a press release. She has been given no opportunity to connect with the community or vice versa. I hope she’s successful, but she is entering the district being set up to fail.

One thing we do know is that the Wimmer shepherded the passage of an operational and capital referendum in her district last year. She’s not sticking around to deal with the community when they get their tax increases this year. But perhaps the board liked the fact that she was able to convince the taxpayers to raise their own taxes.

West Bend School Board Selects Superintendent Finalists

Meh.

Dominick Madison — Madison is currently the superintendent of Brillion Public Schools in Brillion, Wis. where he has served for 15 years.

[…]

Jennifer Wimmer – Wimmer has been the superintendent of the Maple Dale-Indian Hill School District in Fox Point for six years.

The West Bend School District has about 6,500 students trending down to 5,000 in a few years. Brillion has a school district of about 880 kids – less than the size of one of West Bend’s High Schools. Maple Dale-Indian Hill is a district without 420 kids – roughly the size of a single elementary school in West Bend.

It appears that the West Bend is no longer to attract super supers. This is a pretty mediocre candidate list for what has become a pretty mediocre school district. Leadership matters. Let’s hope I’m wrong and one of these folks is an unfinished diamond.

Vote for Jody Geenen for transparent School Board

Here’s a Letter to the Editor I received.

I believe the West Bend School Board needs a shake-up.  I believe the right person to do so is Jody Geenen.

A recent article in the West Bend Current, the high schools’ online newspaper, made me sure of this (westbendcurrent.com/2020/03/31).  All candidates running for the School Board were interviewed, but the three incumbents (Justman, Ongert and Schmidt) reminded me once again how often they are misleading with facts, less than transparent, and far from conservative.

Mr. Ongert misleads when he states that the District has “far more AP classes and CTE classes than any other district around us.”  All one has to do is combine the number of students at our two high schools, and West Bend ends up as one of the largest high schools in the whole state.  No wonder our high schools offer more AP and CTE classes– or any other classes for that matter– than schools like Germantown, Slinger or Cedarburg!  How does the number of classes make our district any better?

Ms. Justman is less than transparent when she says the board is “working proactively” on building needs such as roofing repairs.  Roofing is always included in the District budget, and there is a schedule of repairs each summer.  She also says that “attractive and high-functioning schools” will make West Bend “the chosen destination for families to live,” and she is concerned about our community thriving and higher property values.  One would think she works for the Economic Development office of the city rather than serving on the School Board.  What about improving the education of our students?

Ms. Schmidt mentions learning but usually in the context of her own educational experiences.  Her plans for improving the District do not focus on curriculum or test scores.  She wants United Way to step in with their Inspire program (but doesn’t explain how that would improve student achievement), and she borrows a successful concept from Riveredge Nature Center.  Schmidt wants to establish a charter nature school like Riveredge in the District!  Perhaps more disturbing is her attack on former Superintendent Erik Olson.

Since being elected in 2017, the three incumbents have had plenty of time “to move our district forward,” as Ongert states in the Current piece.  Instead, test scores have fallen below neighboring districts, and the Wisconsin State Report Card scores show both East and West High Schools at the bottom of all conference schools.  The school board at great expense pursued a $74 million (including interest) referendum that was too much for this community on top of existing debt of $32 million from previous referendums.  They’ve allowed left-leaning curriculum and lesson plans to persist in the classrooms, even when a national spotlight was shined on the District.

Justman, Ongert, and Schmidt are out of touch with this community.  It’s time to vote for Jody Geenen to add a voice of reason to the School Board.  Jody will respectfully represent your tax dollars, and she’ll welcome input when working to improve student academics.  Because that’s what schools are all about:  learning, not shiny new buildings.  Cast only one vote for School Board; the right choice is Jody Geenen on April 7.

John & Carol Heger

West Bend School Board Member Misrepresents Task Force Findings

In a letter to the editor today in the Washington County Daily News, West Bend School Board Member Paul Fischer said a couple of things that need some discussion. First, he said this:

Regarding our ongoing facilities discussions, various letters to the editor claim the School Board has turned a deaf ear toward the private task force’s recommendations. This statement couldn’t be further from the truth. The School Board agrees with many of their observations and continues to evaluate their suggestions.

Some of you might remember that I was a member of the Private Task Force that spent months evaluating the district’s elementary and high school facilities. I can’t get into the minds of the board members. What I can tell you is that they seemed receptive when we presented the findings to them at a board meeting. I presented the findings for a few groups after we presented to the board and several board members attended those presentations of their own accord. The Task Force offered to come back in committee format to do deeper dives on specific findings and provide all of the backend discovery and data. To my knowledge, the board has not taken up any task force members on that offer. So while the board members may be considering the Task Force’s findings in their deliberations, they have not dug any deeper into the details of those findings. Perhaps that is why Mr. Fischer made this incorrect statement:

Claims have also been made that the task force recommendations included guidance that our facilities issues can be addressed without raising taxes. To be clear, the report NEVER made that statement.

This is not true. The written task force presentation laid out a financial model for how to accomplish the facilities goals without increasing spending or taxes. Furthermore, it was verbally communicated during the school board presentation. It was also verbally presented several times at other presentations that board members attended. I happen to know that because I was the one presenting. Finally, I actually wrote it in the column I did at the time about the findings. I wrote:

Third, once the district has a valid long-range facilities plan and an adequate funding to execute that plan, the School Board must do the work to execute without increasing spending or raising taxes. The Task Force found that there is sufficient money in the current budget to pay for extensive upgrades to the district’s facilities without increasing spending or raising taxes.

I said virtually the same thing in a second column:

The best part is that by taking advantage of the operational efficiencies of a streamlined district infrastructure and making a few other easily identified operational efficiencies, the task force found that the district could do upgrade at the high school, modernize the entire elementary school footprint, and increase the ongoing maintenance budget to adequate levels without spending or taxing a dollar more than they already are.

As a member of the Task Force who participated in the discovery, discussion, and development of the presentations; and as someone who actually presented the findings multiple times; I can say with absolute certainty that the Task Force did find that the West Bend School District could address its facilities needs without raising taxes or spending. Perhaps Fischer wants to dance around how the written report is phrased, but this finding was presented to the Board and communicated multiple times in multiple formats. Again, perhaps if the School Board had taken up the opportunity to dig deeper into the discovery documentation, this fact would have been more clear. But then again, I thought it was already clear. Clearly it is just something that they don’t want to confront.

The complaints from some in the community that the West Bend School Board ignored the Task Force’s findings are well founded. While the board members might be taking the findings into consideration in their heads, they have given no outward indication that that’s the case.

Letter to the Editor

There is only one new candidate running for West Bend School District Board, Jody Geenen.  The three incumbents running as a bloc promised to be conservative, but their actions say something different. The current school board is out-of-touch and far from good stewards of tax dollars.

  • The current board wants to increase taxes with new buildings and a declining student population. The current board has tabled suggestions provided by an independent, volunteer task force who have researched and offered alternatives. Last year’s school referendum they wanted a palace in Jackson with 180+ square feet per student.  We are still paying for the rebuilding of Badger and Silverbrook.
  • The current school board took credit for a low mill rate which had nothing to do with the WBSD Board.  They count on the public being confused by mill rates.
  • The current board won’t review curriculum and are “leaving it to the experts”. The current board touts that there is parent/public input, but they make it so inconvenient for parent/public input to be heard.
  • The current board wants to eliminate the traditional 100-point grading system to prevent students from failing. The lowest possible grade would be a 40% or 50% instead of a 0 for a student who doesn’t do the work.

There is more, but all in the midst of another nation-wide search for a new superintendent.

I want someone on the school board who is honest, committed, fair minded, has common sense and will listen to ALL stakeholders, who treats my tax dollars as their own, and who supports high quality education.  Actions speak louder than words.  The ONLY vote for West Bend School District School board should be Jody Geenen.

Mary Wild

West Bend

$1.6 Billion in School Referendums on Ballot

Given that most of these are for buildings and all of the kids are at home… no. Oh, AND, we are entering a government-forced recession and we shouldn’t raise our taxes when thousands of our neighbors are losing their jobs, savings, and businesses. Oh, AND, even if both of those things weren’t true, it would still be a waste of money.

As the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has upended daily lives, bringing with it economic uncertainty, voters in 48 Wisconsin school districts — including in two of the state’s largest school systems — will decide next month on referendums totaling more than $1.6 billion.

[…]

But voters in the state’s largest district, Milwaukee, and fifth-largest, Racine, have big asks before them — permanently raising operating funds by up to $87 million and spending up to $1 billion on school projects over the next three decades, respectively.

The referendums in districts throughout the state come as thousands of people are out of work and businesses shuttered to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Whether the economic impact of the public health crisis will hamper the success of school referendums is uncertain.

 

A View of Virtual Learning

The Washington County Insider has asked students from local schools to describe their virtual learning experiences. Here’s a fascinating and detailed “day in the life” view from a student at Kettle Moraine Lutheran High School in Jackson.

Our day starts at 7:40 a.m. with a live stream of our chapel service. This is the same time our normal day began. There is a Google form we must submit before 8 a.m. to show our attendance. Our normal eight period, 43-minute class schedule has been switched to a block schedule, where we have four periods each day, lasting 86 minutes.

For my classes, each teacher has posted what we will be doing that day in Google Classroom. This post also includes a link to Zoom, which is a video-conferencing App that allows us to meet. The teacher can interact with all the students and we can interact with each other by talking or using the chat feature. In some classes, the teacher has taught the entire lesson while on Zoom, and in other classes, the teacher uses Zoom just to see our faces and see if we have any questions before we complete the assignment posted on Google Classroom.

Teachers are able to share their screen with us, so we can still go through PowerPoint presentations. Student presentations are still possible through the same process. Zoom has a feature allowing the teacher to mute or unmute everyone, and each individual can control their video and audio as well. This feature has been effective for class discussions.

At times the video and audio quality are not the clearest, and some people have frozen on the screen for a small amount of time. Finding a place to have a Zoom meeting is also a challenge for some. For me personally, I have an eighth-grade brother who is doing online school, and my mother is working from home as well. Her job involves many phone meetings so it is difficult for us to work on the same floor. To alleviate the problem, I have decided to make my room my main working area. I cleared off my desk and that is where I do the majority of my work.