Category Archives: Education

School Districts Fail to Use Act 10 to Control Budgets

The Wisconsin Department of Administration has done the public a massive service by releasing a detailed description of every Wisconsin School District’s health insurance plans. You can find it here.

The first thing that jumps out is that the health insurance plans that Wisconsin’s school districts give to their employees are still very generous. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. We want our teachers to have good health insurance, but many private employers offer good health insurance and their costs are lower.

The average yearly premium for a family plan in Wisconsin’s school districts is $20,062.44. That compares to an average yearly premium of $18,764 in the U.S. For some rough math… if 50% of the 108,820 Wisconsin public school employees have a family plan and paid the national average, it would save taxpayers over $70 million per year – and district employees would still be receiving good health insurance.

The second thing that jumps out is that school districts are not taking advantage of Act 10 to control costs. Act 10 decoupled benefits decisions from union negotiations and left them at the discretion of the governing body. In this case, the local school boards have the power to determine the health insurance plans offered and the amount that employees pay for their share.

Across all 422 Wisconsin School Districts, Employees still only pay an average of 11.7% of the cost of their health insurance premiums for a family plan and 11.5% for a single plan. This is far below the average for private or government employees. According to the BLS, private sector employees pay an average of 33% of their health insurance premiums. State and local government employees pay an average of 29%! So here in Wisconsin, public school employees are paying less than half what other state and local employees pay for health insurance despite local school boards having complete power to being their employees into the national mainstream.

Clearly, there is still plenty of money to waste in our schools.

A Closer Look at the West Bend School District

Of course, since I live in the West Bend School District and they are preparing to ask the tax payers for tens of millions of dollars in a referendum despite declining enrollment, I have to take a look at my own district.

In the West Bend School District, the annual premium for a family plan is well above the state average coming in at $21,864. That does not include the fact that the school district provides an on-site clinic that provides services at no cost to the employees and without any co pays.

While receiving a more expensive health insurance plan, West Bend School District employees pay far less than other districts. Employees pay 8.2% of the premium for a family plan and 13.3% for a single plan. Furthermore, employees can earn a premium differential. The report doesn’t say how employees qualify for the differential, but a premium differential is generally a discount for things like not smoking, participating in wellness activities, etc. If an employee qualifies for the entire differential, their percentage for a family plan drops to 2.7% of the total premium, or $49 per month.

Just to recap, for a family plan, the average American state or local government employee pays 29% of the premium, the average Wisconsin school district employee pays 11.7%, and an employee of the West Bend School District pays 8.2%.

If the West Bend School District merely adopted a health insurance plan that was near the national average and asked employees to pay for 29%, it would save taxpayers $8,393 – PER FAMILY POLICY PER YEAR.

I ask the taxpayers of West Bend to remember these numbers when the district comes around again claiming poverty and asking for more money. The West Bend School Board, despite their claims of conservative leadership, are failing to manage benefits costs even to national or state norms.

Mayville Schools Display Raunchy “Protest Art” to Middle Schoolers

Wow. From the Washington County Insider. Follow the link for videos of parents and others commenting. What the heck are they teaching in Mayville? Is creating protest art a positive and effective use of taxpayer resources? Apparently the teacher who sanctioned this thing so. She said that, “The fact that a discussion is happening is a positive outcome, as well as, a learning opportunity.” Really?

 

rg-1

June 20, 2018 – Mayville, WI –  A piece of “protest art” by an 11th grader in the Mayville School District drew some harsh comments about what sort of education is being taught in the public schools in the small community of just over 4,900 in Dodge County.

Parents and taxpayers questioned the graphic nature of the piece that was part of a K-12 Art Fair held this past May at Mayville Middle School.

[…]

After the art fair in May calls were placed to School Board President John Westphal and District Superintendent Scott Sabol. Neither returned calls or offered a comment.

[…]

When two children from the Mayville Middle School came home and asked their parent about some of the words in the picture the parent said she tried to get a hold of teachers and administrators. Below is an email response from Mayville High School art teacher Sarah Heideman sent to a parent on May 23, 2018.

The school district’s Ted Hazelberg, also sent an email response to the parent on May 21, 2018.

From: Sarah Heideman <sheideman@mayville.k12.wi.us>
Date: Wed, May 23, 2018, 7:36 AM
Subject: Re: protest art – Invitation to view
Cc:, Scott Sabol <ssabol@mayville.k12.wi.us>, Bob Clark <bclark@mayville.k12.wi.us>, Ted Hazelberg <thazelberg@mayville.k12.wi.us >, John Schlender <jschlender@mayville.k12.wi.us >, Jessica Stortz <jstortz@mayville.k12.wi.us>

My student’s assignment was to create a talking conversation through a piece of artwork about something that they felt strongly about. The fact that a discussion is happening is a positive outcome, as well as, a learning opportunity. In the process, I apologise for not thinking about the placement and content for a younger viewer, since the show is over, I cannot fix it this year, but can promise in the future that these things will be addressed and learned from.
Thank you for raising the questions,
Sarah Heideman

West Bend School Superintendent’s New Contract

The last super made $155k. It looks like the district is paying a premium.

June 19, 2018 – West Bend, WI – On May 29 the West Bend School District announced it hired Don Kirkegaard as the new Superintendent.

Kirkegaard is scheduled to start in the district July 9.  His contract is public record and posted below. Highlights include an annual salary of $175,000, moving expenses up to $15,000 and the “District shall annually contribute 6% of the Superintendent’s salary ($10,500) to a 403 (b) retirement account.

Mountainous Middleton

Snort.

It wasn’t until after Sunday’s commencement that the Middleton School District became aware of a problem with its diplomas.

At first glance, everything seemed fine. The front cover correctly spelled the school’s name and included the name of the graduate on an inside cover.

On the inside left cover, a black-and-white drawing depicted what purported to be the school.

But that drawing included mountains in the background — and there are no mountains in Middleton near its high school. In addition, the drawing looked nothing like Middleton High School.

About 400 of the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District’s more than 500 graduates received a diploma this year that included a drawing of a school they didn’t attend.

West Bend School District Releases Referendum “Survey”

The West Bend School District has sent out the survey asking about the appetite for a referendum. As explained when it was announced, this is the survey created by the propaganda group School Perceptions. You can see the whole survey here: school-referendum-survey-2018. As expected, it is more of a propaganda piece than a survey. Given that the survey is designed to elicit a specific, pro-referendum, response and I have almost no faith in the accurate tabulation of the results, I hesitate to even go through it. Still, as a dutiful citizen, everyone who received one should answer it. Here are a few key facts to consider when responding:

  1. No, there’s no free money. The survey says that “in 2019, the District will pay off a portion of the referendum debt from past building projects, and by 2028 the District will make the final payment on all existing referendum debt.” That’s misleading and is intended to give the impression that there is free money to be had.In truth, the district is already carrying the debt from previous referenda to the tune of over $60 million. As with any debt, the district is slowly whittling down the principal, but the interest if front-loaded in the payment structure. What happens next year is that the payments go down a bit as part of the schedule, but the debt is still being paid off. The Survey positions that as “this drop in loan payments gives the community an opportunity to borrow up to $35 million in facility upgrades with no tax increase over the current level.”Let’s put this in terms of personal finance… this is like when a person has a $10k credit card limit. After paying on it for a while, it frees up $1k of credit limit and the minimum payment has dropped. The person says, “I can borrow another $1,000 and my minimum payment will only increase back to what it already was.” That’s exactly how people run their lives without ever getting out of debt.Essentially, what the District is saying in the Survey is, “we have increased your tax burden through previous referenda and we can borrow and spend another $35 million just by keeping your taxes as high as they are now.” They are assuming that the current baseline tax burden, which is already inflated by previous referenda, is the new normal.It doesn’t have to be. The alternative is to pay off the previous referenda as planned and enjoy a tax DECREASE.
  2. The numbers cited are not the total debt. The West Bend School Board actually did a great thing a couple of years ago. They passed a policy that said that when talking about proposed debt, they needed to be honest about the total amount. The needed to include the project interest that is part of any debt. They ignored that policy in this Survey. Whether talking about $40 million or $80 million, remember that’s borrowed money with interest for years.For example, the $22.8 million referendum that the voters passed back in 2012 was actually a $31.975 million debt paid back over 15 years. We’re still paying on that. So if the voters pass a $80 million referendum, the total payback would likely be between $100 million and $115 million – depending on the interest rate and payback period. At 4% over 15 years, it’s $106.5 million.
  3. The Survey starts with a falsehood. In the introduction, the Survey says, “the Board of Education created a Citizens Facility Advisory Committee (CFAC) last summer. The CFAC, consisting of 28 parents, business leaders, and community members, has studied the educational and facility needs at each location and developed the options explored in the survey.”That’s just not true. Not only was CFAC a sham that was run with a predetermined outcome, but some of the information presented in the Survey was never discussed by CFAC. For example, the Survey discusses the “need” to remodel the cafeteria for $2.2 million. The cafeteria was not covered in the CFAC information packet and I’m told it was not part of any discussion.You will also note that in the CFAC schedule (page 8), the “Committee Presentation of Recommendation to School Board” is scheduled for Late May/ Early June. Well, it’s June 1st and the survey that is supposed to be based on those recommendations is already issued.So what the District is doing is trying to pretend that all of the “needs” cited in the Survey were identified and vetted by a group of concerned community members. It gives the impression that this was a “bottom up” assessment that included community input. Not so. They are using CFAC as cover to give a false impression to the community. It is a dishonest tactic. Frankly, I would be very angry if I had donated my time to CFAC and was used in this way.
  4. Remember that enrollment is declining.  Enrollment has been declining for a few years (see page 83). Specifically in Jackson Elementary, it served a peak of 536 kids in 2009. This year it has 370 kids and is the smallest elementary school in the district by enrollment. Part of the decline was due to a restructuring of the middle schools, but it has declined every year since then too.  The overall district enrollment projections from the February board meeting are below. You will notice that the district is projecting a steady decline in enrollment over the next several years. This has very little to do with the quality of the district. It is a demographic trend of a lower birthrate combined with increasing educational choice. This begs two questions. First, why would we invest in a massive school building expansion for a district that will serve almost 900 fewer kids in 2023 than it did in 2014? Second, as enrollment declines, so does State Aid. That means that more and more of the tax burden will be shifted to local taxpayers unless the district actually reduces spending and taxes to match their enrollment. Why isn’t the district actually reducing spending and taxes if they are serving fewer kids?

wb-enrollment

 

Credit where credit is due… the Survey does provide an option of “I would not support any referendum.” I encourage everyone to check that box.

West Bend Hires New Superintendent

Welcome to West Bend!

The West Bend Joint School District #1 School Board voted unanimously to choose Donald A. Kirkegaard as the next superintendent for the school district. Kirkegaard has accepted the position and begins his tenure on July 9, 2018.

[…]

Kirkegaard is currently serving as secretary of education for the state of South Dakota. He left a superintendent position in 2017 after being appointed as secretary of education by the governor of South Dakota. Kirkegaard’s experience includes nearly 23 years as superintendent of both the Meade School District and Britton-Hecla School District in South Dakota. He was also a principal in the Britton-Hecla School District for six years.

“West Bend is an outstanding school district in a community I will be able to call home,” said Kirkegaard, “This position is a really good fit for me, as the skill set the school board is looking for is what I can bring to the district. I appreciate the governor of South Dakota allowing me the opportunity to serve as secretary of education, and look forward to bringing my background and experience to the West Bend School District.”

While leading the Meade School District, Kirkegaard oversaw the implementation of all-day kindergarten, one-to-one technology for all students grades 4-12, expanded credit offerings, the building of a new elementary school, and new partnerships with businesses to improve the CTE programming.

Kirkegaard earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and economics from South Dakota State University, a master’s degree in school administration from Northern State University, and an educational specialist degree in school district administration from the University of South Dakota.

He was named South Dakota Superintendent of the Year in 2009. In addition, Kirkegaard was a member of the South Dakota State Board of Education from 2007-2017, serving as president of the board from 2011-2017. He was an executive board member of the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement from 1992-2006, and a member of the South Dakota Governor’s Educational Task Force in 2003.

Former West Bend Superintendent Hired in Ashland

This is good news for Erik Olson and the taxpayers of West Bend. You might remember that Olson was forced out by the West Bend School Board last year for being too conservative (my interpretation – not something the school board will comment on). The School Board gave Olson an incredibly generous separation package for reasons that they never sufficiently explained. It was:

Basically, the agreement pays out Olson for the remainder of his contract. He will receive the amount of his full salary until June 30, 2019 – about $238k. He’ll also get $10k for moving expenses and about $10k for unused vacation time. The school district will also pay for his benefits until June 30, 2019, or until he gets a new job. So the total actual amount is uncertain because of the variability of the cost of benefits, but it’s safe to say that the taxpayers of the West Bend School District are on the hook for something north of $300,000 to buy out Olson’s contract.

The School Board essentially had to buy out his contract because they lacked the sufficient cause to fire him. Thankfully, by getting another job so quickly, Olson has let the taxpayers of West Bend off the hook for tens of thousands of dollars.

Former Student: Conservatives Not Welcome at Marquette

Ouch.

A Marquette University freshman said he won’t be back in the fall because his conservative Catholic views aren’t welcome on campus.

In an article posted Wednesday on conservative college news site www.campusreform.org, now former Marquette University student Zachary Petrizzo didn’t hold back, writing, “After one year at the institution, I have discovered that Marquette is anything but a Jesuit and Catholic university. There is no acceptance of conservative thoughts.”

Advertisement

“I believe that Marquette has taken a step to ultimately limit free speech on campus,” Petrizzo told WISN 12 News on Thursday.

“You know, I decided to leave Marquette due to the political climate. The political climate in which conservatives, you know, their ideas were not allowed on campus,” he said.

Petrizzo said he feared for his safety, claiming in one instance two students told him he would be “hunted down.”

Marquette wouldn’t address Petrizzo’s grievances specifically, but did issue a statement, which read in part, “In keeping with our Catholic and Jesuit mission, Marquette is open to a wide range of viewpoints, including conservative student groups and speakers. We encourage vigorous yet respectful debate and a marketplace of ideas.”

West Bend School Board Announces 3 Finalists for Superintendent

From the email.

Donald A. Kirkegaard — Prior to being appointed by the governor of South Dakota as secretary of education for the state in 2017, Kirkegaard was superintendent of the Meade School District and Britton-Hecla School District for nearly 23 years. He was also a principal in the Britton-Hecla School District for six years. Kirkegaard earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and economics from South Dakota State University, a master’s degree in school administration from Northern State University, and an educational specialist degree in school district administration from the University of South Dakota.

Christopher D. Peterson — Christopher Peterson has 23 years of experience in public education, including nine as superintendent of Howards Grove School District. His experience includes serving as principal in the Manitowoc Public School District, Kimberly Area School District, and the School District of Wausaukee, and teaching in the Little Chute Area School District. Peterson earned a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, a master’s degree in educational administration from Marian University, superintendent certification from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and is working on a doctorate at Marian University.

Thomas J. Hoh, Ph.D. — Thomas Hoh has 20 years of experience in public education and currently serves as the executive director of secondary education for the Green Bay Area Public School District. Prior to joining the Green Bay Area Public School District, Hoh was a principal in the Ripon Area School District and also worked in the Kaukauna Area School District and Neenah Joint School District. Hoh earned his bachelor’s degree in education and master’s degree in educational leadership and policy analysis from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He earned a doctorate in education leadership from Marian University.

Graduate Protests Suppression of 2nd Amendment Rights on Campus

Good for her.

_101617489_bennett2_976getty

Kaitlin Bennett graduated from Kent State University in Ohio with a degree in biology.

The following day, the 22-year-old returned to the campus with an AR-10 semi-automatic rifle strapped to her back and posed for photographs while holding a graduation cap emblazoned with the words “come and take it”.

Bennett, who later posted the photographs on Twitter, says she was protesting against a university policy that prohibited students, professors and employees from carrying “lethal weapons” on campus – but allows “guests” to possess them on school grounds (but not in buildings).

She noted that Kent State was the location where “four unarmed students were shot and killed by the government” – a reference to the 1970 incident where soldiers clashed with Vietnam War protesters, firing shots that hit 13 protesters and bystanders.

State of Illinois Takes Over Chicago Public Schools Special Education

Of course, it’s not like the State of Illinois has a solid record of competent management.

The Illinois State Board of Education took on sweeping authority to supervise special education at Chicago Public Schools on Wednesday, voting to appoint an outside monitor who for at least three years will have to approve any changes to the district’s special ed policies and procedures.

ISBE will now meet with CPS to map out what state schools Superintendent Tony Smith described as “the road to transformation” after officials concluded that the district’s 2016 overhaul of special ed violated a swath of federal law and regulations.

“The corrective action and recommendations we offered today are the right first step to helping CPS fully serve all children and families,” Smith said in a statement. “The common good requires uncommonly good public schools.”

ISBE also recommended that the district change the way it creates legally mandated education programs for special ed students, and identify students who may have had their services delayed or denied because of the CPS policy overhaul so parents have an opportunity to pursue needed changes.

Liberal West Bend School Board targets November for $80 million referendum

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online. Here you go:

As the West Bend School Board continues to search for a new superintendent after the unfortunate departure of the previous one, it is also aggressively following the liberal playbook to bamboozle the taxpayers into approving a new, massive, $80 million (plus interest) spending referendum. While every one of the school board members ran for office on a platform of conservatism and transparency, their governing is indistinguishable from the arrogant liberal school boards in Milwaukee or Madison.

Since Act 10, the liberals in Wisconsin have fought for more spending and stumbled upon a process to get school spending referendums passed that plays on the fears and best intentions of goodhearted people. The West Bend School Board is following that process and looking to take advantage of the projected “Blue Wave” in November to get more money from district taxpayers.

First, the School Board created the Citizens Facility Advisory Committee last year with a strong majority of members who were already convinced of the need to spend more money. The only questions were “on what” and “how much?” The board hired a company based in Milwaukee called Bray Architects to run the CFAC meetings. Bray brags on its website about the expensive building projects funded by referendums it helped get passed.

Bray did its job for the board and ran a rigid CFAC process that would only lead to the outcome that the board had predetermined. In one unguarded moment, the Bray facilitator admitted that “the decision to build a new Jackson school was made in the prior efforts.” The taxpayers of West Bend would be surprised to know the decision to build a new school was already made. When the facilitator was asked by a CFAC member about why they were even bothering with the committee, he answered, “because we need to help the community understand why a new Jackson is being considered.” In other words, CFAC was a sham propaganda tool from the beginning — not an actual advisory committee. Recent events confirm that conclusion.

After the bogus CFAC process, the School Board is taking the next step of spending $35,000 of our money to conduct a sham survey. The board pretends that the survey is going to be used to gauge public support for areferendum. The survey is a propaganda tool used to build support and, like CFAC, has a predetermined outcome.

The West Bend School Board has hired SchoolPerceptions to conduct the survey. A recent column

by Mark Belling exposed School Perceptions for the propaganda machine it is. Instead of conducting an objective survey that is honestly seeking answers, “the whole point of School Perceptions is to influence opinion through framing questions,” Belling writes.

The upcoming survey in West Bend will not be any different. It is telling that while asking respondents about a list of projects, there will not be an option to just say “no.” The West Bend School Board has decided to intentionally spend taxpayer money to conduct a propaganda effort under the guise of a survey with the intent to sell a spending referendum. It is a shameless act of liberal activism at taxpayers’ expense.

It is worth noting that while the West Bend School Board members are intent on jacking up spending and taxes, the transparency that constituents have enjoyed with previous boards has muddied. Many meetings are no longer recorded, meeting minutes are missing from the district’s website, the use of special and closed sessions has become the norm and many agenda items appeared to have been already discussed and decided before the public meetings. This School Board has made a practice of obscuring their actions from public view.

Furthermore, when I have repeatedly asked the elected school board members to comment on issues for more than a year, the only member of the School Board who has ever responded was Ken Schmidt. Every other Board member has refused to respond — including the two who were just elected. This is a sharp departure from previous years where even the most liberal School Board members were willing to chat with me over a cup of coffee. Elected officials have a duty to speak with their constituents. It is part of the job. Sadly, most of the members of the West Bend School Board lack the sense of duty or humility that good public service requires.

West Bend is proud of our conservatism and proud of our public schools. The School Board is failing our public schools by failing to govern as the conservatives they professed to be. Before they come hat in hand for another $80 million to spend, they need to get their house in order and rebuild the public trust that they have squandered.

 

Madison School Board Denies President

Only in Madison

Madison School Board members quashed a proposal Monday that could have allowed the board president to block other members from requesting information about the school district they are elected to govern.

During an Operations Work Group meeting, board members agreed not to pursue a proposed change to board policy that would have given the board president the ability to deny or alter requests for district information made by other board members.

District spokeswoman Rachel Strauch-Nelson said the policy change is part of a routine update of policies and is meant to “codify the board’s current ways of working.”

“We work very hard to fulfill all requests in a timely way,” she said. “In the very rare instance that a request is very difficult to fulfill, we run that request past the board president so they can decide the best way to move forward.”

Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham said the intent of having the president deny a request would be to make it clear that a district employee does not have to tell a board member a request is too difficult to fulfill.

Special Meeting to Spend Money Tonight

I’m not sure why the West Bend School Board has to do all of these things with special meetings and not as a part of their regular order, but here it is:

May 7, 2018 – West Bend, WI – The West Bend School Board will hold a special meeting at 5:15 p.m. tonight, to approve spending $35,000 on a community-wide survey regarding Jackson Elementary School and the West Bend High Schools.

The Washington County Insider has a lot of background information and financial information.

I’ll remind the gentle reader that this is part of a predictable liberal playbook to con the taxpayers into passing a referendum. The school board is about to spend, and has already spent, tens of thousands of dollars hiring sham companies whose sole purpose is to get school referenda passed. In this case, the district doesn’t even have a superintendent. This is all on the school board.

Teacher Uses Position to Wage Social Justice War

This is part of the reason why there has been a decline in respect for the teaching profession.

The woman named this year’s National Teacher of the Year used buttons pinned to her dress on Wednesday to stage a silent protest.

The Guardian reported that Mandy Manning wore six political badges on her black dress and declined to clap for Trump as he entered the White House Ceremony.

According to a pooled report, one pin included a photo of the Women’s March poster, the international protest that was first held the day after Trump’s inauguration.  Another badge read “Trans Equality Now.” One other pin was the shape of an apple with a rainbow.

[…]

“My goal is to share my student stories,” Manning told CNN. “But to send a message, to not only by immigrants and refugee students but the LGBT community, that they are wanted, they are loved, they are enough and they matter.”

Nowhere in that story do you see anything about… you know… education. I don’t even see what grade or subjects Manning teaches. I don’t see anything about how the kids she teaches benefit from her teaching. How they do better getting into the colleges and careers they want. Nothing at all about outcomes. This teacher just uses her classroom, and now her award, to wage the various social justice battles that are important to her.

West Bend School Board Follows Liberal Playbook

From the Washington County Insider:

May 1, 2018 – West Bend, WI – Six members of the West Bend School Board, (Tiffany Larson was not in attendance), spent nearly two hours discussing a proposed survey to test the waters on a possible $80 million referendum. The referendums would focus on Jackson Elementary and the West Bend High Schools.

The survey would be created by Slinger-based School Perceptions. Bill Foster, the president of the company, was in attendance.

You can follow the link to watch the videos. Here’s where we are:

Last year, the School Board started down the path to a building referendum. They engaged an architectural firm that specialized in running a sham process to build support for the referendum. As I wrote back in August, they are following this proven roadmap to referendum:

  1. Form a committee loaded with people predisposed to support more spending
  2. The committee will conduct a needs analysis that has a very wide definition of “need”
  3. Conduct a propaganda campaign through the committee (so that it appears to be coming from the community) that bemoans all of the facility “needs” (expect to hear about sewage backups in Jackson Elementary again)
  4. The committee will determine that existing district resources are inadequate to meet the facilities “needs”
  5. Conduct a community survey with slanted questions, e.g. “Would you support a referendum to prevent the children having to learn while standing in a foot of sewage?”
  6. The committee recommends that the board go to referendum based on the survey results
  7. The School Board puts the referendum(s) on the ballot

They have completed steps 1 through 4. During the CFAC process, they even admitted that it was a sham designed to build support for a predetermined conclusion. You can find that video here.

Now they are working on step number 5. They have engaged School Perceptions, which is the go-to group for creating biased propaganda to build support for school referendums. Mark Belling wrote a column cataloging School Perceptions’ fraudulent business practices last week. Belling concluded:

Foster’s a hustler. He’s come up with a way to get hired by dozens of school districts who want to get referendums passed. Even my attempts to expose him aid his business by publicizing to other districts how he aids them in their referendum con jobs. What is not defensible is that school boards and superintendents are using public money to mislead their residents and pretending to conduct honey surveys.

Yes. That’s the same Foster who attended the West Bend School Board meeting last night.

Where are the alleged conservatives on the West Bend School Board? As far as I can tell, they are just walking down the exact same path to more spending and debt as any liberal school board would. They are using the same techniques. They are using the same propaganda. They are using the same companies. They are spending our tax dollars to advance this propaganda. And they are about to ask the taxpayers for tens of millions of dollars to dump into buildings in a district with flat-to-declining enrollment.

As far as I can tell, the Milwaukee School Board might as well be running the schools in West Bend. We would be getting the same result. But at least the liberals on the Milwaukee School Board are honest about their liberal intentions.

Wisconsin DOJ Doles Out School Safety Grants

Get your free money here! I hate this election year handout of the taxpayers’ money.

Wisconsin schools could complete safety upgrades by the time students return in the fall under a grant program launched this week by the state Department of Justice.

Public and private K-12 schools throughout the state have until June 8 to apply to receive grants from a $100 million school safety fund, to be used for building upgrades or staff training.

“We owe our children and our communities the promise of safe school environments,” said Attorney General Brad Schimel during a news conference on Wednesday at St. Dennis Catholic School in Madison.

To be eligible for funding, schools must develop a plan with local law enforcement. Schools must also give all full-time teachers, aides, counselors and administrators at least three hours of combined training in adverse childhood experiences (ACE) and trauma-informed care/trauma-sensitive schools (TIC/TSS) by the end of the 2018-19 school year if they have not already done so.

Applications will be considered in two categories: primary upgrades, to ensure all schools meet a security baseline set by the state, and advanced upgrades to build on existing measures.

DOJ officials estimate about $30 million of the grant pool will go toward primary measures such as installing classroom door locks and shatterproof glass.

If local school districts haven’t been taking reasonable actions for school safety with the billions of dollars that taxpayers already give them every year, then I would suggest that their priorities are hopelessly flawed. Having districts make up new “safety” projects just to get a state handout is just waste compounding waste.

Racial Disparity in Discipline Persists

The Obama discipline policies have been disastrous. Scrap them.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Black students are suspended from school, expelled and referred to law enforcement much more frequently than their white peers and the disparities are growing, according to a federal report released Tuesday.

The report released by the Education Department is likely to add to an already tense national debate about what causes such racial disparities. Civil rights groups believe that racial bias is at play and insist that federal protections are necessary. Some experts counter that forcing schools to adopt milder disciplinary practices makes classrooms unsafe.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is considering scrapping Obama-era rules that were meant to counter those disparities and urge schools to adopt softer discipline approaches. She met with supporters and opponents of that policy this month.

The data show that while black students represented 15 percent of all enrolled students in 2015-2016, they accounted for 31 percent of children referred to police or arrested. The disparity is 5 percentage points higher than in 2013-14, when such data was last collected. Two years ago, white students made up 49 percent of all students but represented 36 percent of students who were referred to the police.

That a racial disparity exists is evident. Liberals like to blame the disparity on racial discrimination by the people administering the discipline. While some racial discrimination might exist, I doubt that it can explain even 5% of the disparity – especially since the public school systems are some of the most liberal institutions in America. In any case, discipline should be administered evenly, fairly, and without regard to race, religion, gender, or anything other than the infraction committed. Anything more or less than that is an injustice.

West Bend School Board Ousts President

You don’t see this very often. After only a year as president, Tiffany Larson was cast completely out of the leadership. Is this a tacit admission of the exceedingly poor management from the board in the past year?

The West Bend School District Board of Education restructured Monday after Kurt Rebholz and Christopher Zwygart took their oaths of office.

Joel Ongert was elected as the new president of the board with Nancy Justman as vice president. Tonnie Schmidt held her position as board clerk and Zwygart was named the board treasurer.

Study: Private Schools Outperform Public Schools in Wisconsin

Here’s an interesting study from WILL:

April 17, 2018 – Milwaukee, WI – The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) released its second annual report comparing school academic performance across Wisconsin, Apples to Apples.  In this new peer-reviewed study, control variables—such as student economic status and demographics—are included to level the playing field and make the clearest possible comparisons between schools for policymakers and parents.

Also included for the first time is WILL’s Performance Ranking, which ranks the performance of every K-12 school in the state from all sectors while controlling for socio-economic status.  The searchable database is available here: http://www.will-law.org/school-search/.

Some of the findings include:

  • Private schools in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP) outperform Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS). Students in the MPCP were about 4 percentage points more likely to score proficient or above in mathematics and 5 percentage points more likely to score proficient or above in reading.

    • This performance advantage is driven by Catholic and Lutheran private schools.
  • Both independent and non-instrumentality charters have higher proficiency rates than MPS.  Students in non-instrumentality charter schools were about 12 percentage points more likely to be proficient in reading and 15 percentage points more likely to be proficient in math than traditional public school students.  Independent charter school students were about 5 percentage points more likely to be proficient in reading and 8 percentage points in math.

  • Statewide, schools in the state’s voucher programs outperform traditional public schools in reading. No differences were found in math.  This is the first time a positive association has been found between choice programs overall in Wisconsin and academic outcomes.

  • Rural and small town schools perform worse than urban schools. Rural schools have significantly lower performance on the Forward Exam in both math and reading than urban schools.

    • Suburban schools outperform rural, small town, and urban schools