Category Archives: Education

Oostburg Focuses on Teaching and Improves Scores

Good for them.

He turned to his teachers for ideas. Together, and with the assistance of a two-year transformation program, they rethought the whole business of education at Oostburg, and they settled on some surprising conclusions:

  • Teachers should have more power to figure out how to teach their own students.
  • Students needed to be encouraged to be more ambitious at an earlier age — whether their plans included a four-year college, a two-year tech school or heading straight into the workforce.
  • And Oostburg’s schools really should teach to the test — often viewed cynically as a sign of systemic wrongheadedness — because the test had the same goals as the schools did. But not quite in the way you’d think.

Seven years later, the results are hard to argue with.

Oostburg’s 2018-19 ACT scores were seventh out of nearly 400 schools — in a tier where every other school spends more per pupil and household incomes are higher than in the little village 10 miles south of Sheboygan.

And student participation in Advanced Placement courses and exams increased sixteenfold, data from the state Department of Public Instruction show.

Voters Want School District to Dissolve

Good for them. It’s good to see the citizens being good stewards of their resources and focusing on what’s best for the kids.

The majority of voters in the Palmyra-Eagle Area School District would like to see the district dissolve.

Of the 2,298 votes cast in the Nov. 5 advisory referendum, 1,218 (53%) voted in favor of dissolution; 1,080 voted against it, according to unofficial results released Tuesday night by the school district.

The results of the referendum will be made official on Thursday, Nov. 7, PEASD District Administrator Steven Bloom said.

The nonbinding vote comes seven months after 61% of voters rejected an $11.5 million operational referendum that district officials said was necessary to keep the district afloat.

Act 10 Causing Fewer People to Become Teachers?

I love how the reporter just throws that in there:

The teaching industry has faced multiple obstacles with less applicants entering the field to fill open positions at school districts. Statewide the number of applicants completing a teacher prep institution has fallen 35% since 2010 and the nation has similar numbers, said Director of Teacher Education, Professional Development and Licensing David DeGuire, who works with the Department of Public Instruction. The University of Wisconsin System assigned a task force to examine the issue more closely, he said.

There are many reasons for the decrease, including a tight labor market, the passing of Act 10, the amount of workload pushed onto teachers and a change in how people respect and see the profession.

Try to reconcile the two phrases in bold. So if the entire nation is seeing a similar decline in people wanting to be teachers, how is Act 10 – which is only applicable in Wisconsin – a factor in that? Did the reporter read her own story?

The truth is rooted in the other causes. The booming labor market makes teaching less attractive. When unemployment is 10% or more, teaching is a great job with a very low risk of being fired. When unemployment is 4% or less, other career choices look more attractive.

Also, the push to use schools as social justice laboratories instead of centers of education is likely pushing teachers out. True educators want to do that – educate. They don’t want to be used to try to fix all of the social ills in society.

West Bend School District Projects Rapid Decline in Enrollment

The West Bend School Board met last night. One of the items they discussed was new enrollment figures and projections. One might remember that the topic of declining enrollment was a key driver in the findings of the West Bend School District Private Task Force. As it turns out, enrollment is dropping faster than even the projections we used. The Washington County Insider has video and extensive coverage.

October 29, 2019 – West Bend, WI – West Bend School District Superintendent Don Kirkegaard outlined enrollment trends during the Monday night School Board meeting. The district indicated “unless there is a change in enrollment trends, the district can expect declining enrollment for the next 8-10 years.”

Superintendent Kirkegaard:

  • Our enrollment has been going south. It has been for quite a few years and it’s going to go for quite a few more years.
  • We’re down about 600 students since 2006
  • There are about 60 kids that open enroll out of Jackson. Jackson area is the largest open enrolling out of the district.
  • Projections: I made an assumption that the kindergarten class would stay the same and every kid who is in school this year stays in school throughout their whole career.
  • If you go to the high school we’re at 2184 this year. If you look at current students in the school, I added 50 kids every year once they become 9th graders, based on Holy Angels and Cabrini, typically the last few years we picked up 50 parochial kids that come to high school. You’re down to 1669 students with both east and west together.
  • This isn’t doom and gloom, it’s just reality.

II don’t know why he would use flat Kindergarten enrollment as a basis given that Kindergarten enrollment has been declining too, but even with that faulty basis, the overall district is declining.

The reality is that enrollment in the West Bend School District peaked 10 years ago with 6,902 students. This year, there are 6,279. That’s a decline of 623 students or 9%. Even the most generous projections show that the district will have just under 5,000 students ten years from now. That is a decline of almost 30% off of the most recent peak.

Again, this is not the fault of the district. While there are some numbers around the edges that have to do with School Choice or Open Enrollment, the main reason is a national demographic trend of people having fewer kids.

The enrollment trend is going to hit the district hard and fast whether the School Board acts or not. Either they can manage the decline or it will manage them. It’s past time for the citizens of the district to put some big issues on the table. The district can’t be run like it has been in the past.

 

Government Workers Refuse to Work. Kids Harmed.

It’s one thing for employees at a private company to strike. Their customers can go elsewhere and the employees are really only harming the company and themselves. But these kids are required to attend government schools and many of them can’t afford private schooling. They don’t have the choice to just go to another school. What these teachers are doing to these kids should be a crime. We have 3% unemployment in this country. If the teachers aren’t satisfied, they can get another job. Instead, they choose to hold kids hostage in their quest to wrangle more money out of the taxpayers.

Thousands of high school athletes, shut out of class for more than a week, are arguing, rallying and even filing lawsuits for the chance to compete in post-season play. Hanging in the balance, they say, are not just the pursuits of state-championship glory and lifelong memories, but scholarships that for some represent a lone opportunity to attend college and, in some cases, escape drugs and violence in city neighborhoods.

“We’ve been working for this goal of making this stage, running in the postseason, since June,” said Ian Bacon, a senior cross-country runner at Jones College Prep and a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed Thursday against the Illinois High School Association. “This fight … it’s not just for us. It’s for all the future student-athletes that may find themselves in this situation.”

About 25,000 members of the Chicago Teachers Union walked out Oct. 17 . They continue to negotiate with administrators for the nation’s third-largest school system, but disagreement remains over issues such as class sizes and staffing. The work stoppage also idled action on the gridiron, tennis court, soccer field and cross-country course.

School Task Force Presentation Tonight

Don’t forget!

The West Bend School District Private Task Force (WBSDPTF) is a group of local citizens who came together after the failed referendum to take a deep look at the district’s facilities that were the subject of the referendum. The Taskforce was not sanctioned or created by the School Board, but the School District gave the Taskforce unfettered access and reams of data. The Task Force presented its findings to the School Board on October 14th. Now the Task Force will share the findings with Common Sense Citizens of Washington County (CSCWC) and answer any questions about those findings. The meeting will take place Thursday, October 24th at The West Bend Moose Lodge beginning at 7:00PM. As always. the meeting is open to the public.

UPDATE Here is the Presentation that we will be reviewing tonight.

Task Force Findings to be Presented at Common Sense Meeting

Don’t forget.

The West Bend School District Private Task Force (WBSDPTF) is a group of local citizens who came together after the failed referendum to take a deep look at the district’s facilities that were the subject of the referendum. The Taskforce was not sanctioned or created by the School Board, but the School District gave the Taskforce unfettered access and reams of data. The Task Force presented its findings to the School Board on October 14th. Now the Task Force will share the findings with Common Sense Citizens of Washington County (CSCWC) and answer any questions about those findings. The meeting will take place Thursday, October 24th at The West Bend Moose Lodge beginning at 7:00PM. As always. the meeting is open to the public.

I am really hoping for a strong turnout of people of all different opinions. This is a great opportunity to have a robust community discussion about the future of our school district. I hope we can move past the entrenched tribal positions and into a conversation between neighbors.

Task force shows path to build more without spending more

Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News yesterday.

Last week the West Bend School District Private Task Force (WBSDPTF) presented its facilities findings to the West Bend School Board. The Task Force is an unsanctioned group of local private citizens led by West Bend Mayor Kraig Sadownikow who took it upon themselves to dig into the school district’s facilities after the failed referendum earlier this year. While much of the excitement is around the bold ideas around restructuring the elementary schools and updating the high school, the focus should be on the hard work that comes before the shiny new buildings.

Amongst the Task Force’s findings were three key prerequisites that must be met before putting a shovel in the ground. The district needs to create and maintain a meaningful facilities plan; the facilities must be adequately maintained; and the district must live within its means by creating efficiencies. None of these are easy, but they are necessary to provide the facilities that our kids deserve and our community can afford.

First, the district needs a plan. About a decade ago, the West Bend School Board sanctioned a community committee and spent a lot of time creating a 25-year facilities plan. At the time, the plan made some sense. Based on projections that showed continued enrollment growth for the foreseeable future, the plan laid out the updates and new construction that the district would need to support that growth.

After the plan was created, it was used as a guide for facilities spending up to and including the most recent referendum. The problem is that the plan was not sufficiently updated. Since it was created, enrollment had declined and projections are for it to decline further. Some items on the plan were completed. Other items were not. Meanwhile, the School Board continued to use the plan as a basis for making decisions. Before any more money is put into facilities, the School Board must update the facilities plan with current data and create an ongoing process to keep it updated.

Second, the district needs to fund the plan. One of the Task Force’s findings was that the capital maintenance budget is woefully underfunded. The West Bend School District has about 1.4 million square feet of buildings and has an annual capital maintenance budget of about $1.5 million. That $1.5 million budget is the highest it has been in years thanks to the School Board steadily increasing it over the past several years.

With slightly more than a dollar per square foot of funding, the district’s capital maintenance budget is underfunded by a multiple of two or three by normal standards in the private sector. This leaves facilities to decay before their time due to lack of proper maintenance. Well-constructed, properly-maintained buildings will last for generations. If we fail to properly maintain them, however, we will be forced to replace them before their time.

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.

The Task Force’s finding that the school district could consolidate six current buildings into one would generate some of the savings necessary to keep spending flat. The savings in staffing, grass mowing, snow plowing, custodial, food service, administration, building maintenance, etc. are substantial when there is only one building instead of six. But more efficiencies can be found in the sourcing of functions that are not core competencies of a school district.

While services like food service, grounds keeping, information technology, custodial, etc. are necessary, they are not the primary purpose of a school district. There are private businesses that deliver these services better, faster, and cheaper because they are their core competencies. Each of these departments must be evaluated to see if outsourcing would provide more value to the taxpayers for less cost. In some cases, outsourcing might not make sense. Experience in the private sector shows that most of the time it will. We will never know unless the school district puts them out to bid.

The Task Force did a lot of research and study, but still only scratched the surface. Even with that scratch, however, they found that there are significant areas where the school district can save money and reallocate the spending to upgrade and maintain the district’s facilities without negatively impacting education delivery. And those savings are there without even touching the much larger spending items in the budget like staffing levels, employee benefits, and wages. Much more could be done with a bit more scratching.

Make a plan. Take care of what we own. Live within our means. These are guiding principles that citizens should expect from our government. They are principles that must be followed as the West Bend School Board considers the future of the district’s facilities.

NOTE: I am a member of the WBSDPTF. While the findings are those of the Task Force, the opinions in this column are solely mine.

Task force shows path to build more without spending more

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

Amongst the Task Force’s findings were three key prerequisites that must be met before putting a shovel in the ground. The district needs to create and maintain a meaningful facilities plan; the facilities must be adequately maintained; and the district must live within its means by creating efficiencies. None of these are easy, but they are necessary to provide the facilities that our kids deserve and our community can afford.

[…]

Make a plan. Take care of what we own. Live within our means. These are guiding principles that citizens should expect from our government. They are principles that must be followed as the West Bend School Board considers the future of the district’s facilities.

Pick up a copy to read the whole thing.

Also, as a reminder, the Task Force’s full findings will be presented again at the Moose Lodge in West Bend at 1900 on October 24th courtesy of the Common Sense Citizens of Washington County. All are welcome to attend, listen, and ask questions.

CSCWC Meeting on Thursday to Hear WBSDPTF Findings

From the email… we’re not the best at acronyms in West Bend, but be sure to attend this!

The West Bend School District Private Task Force (WBSDPTF) is a group of local citizens who came together after the failed referendum to take a deep look at the district’s facilities that were the subject of the referendum. The Taskforce was not sanctioned or created by the School Board, but the School District gave the Taskforce unfettered access and reams of data. The Task Force presented its findings to the School Board on October 14th. Now the Task Force will share the findings with Common Sense Citizens of Washington County (CSCWC) and answer any questions about those findings. The meeting will take place Thursday, October 24th at The West Bend Moose Lodge beginning at 7:00PM. As always. the meeting is open to the public.

This will be the first opportunity for the public to hear the findings outside of the presentation at the school board meeting. Task Force members will also answer questions. I hope that people who like the findings, hate the findings, or just want to hear them in some detail will be able to attend. Yes, I will also be presenting and fielding questions, so if any of you lefties want to come and have some fun at my expense, feel free.

Enrollment Drops Across UW System

As expected.

MADISON — Enrollment at the University of Wisconsin System dropped 2.6% percent compared to last year.

Preliminary enrollment for the 2019 academic year announced by the university Thursday was just over 167,000 students. That is down from nearly 4,500 students from last year.

Enrollment on the flagship Madison campus was up 2% or 879 students. UW-Green Bay, La Crosse, Parkside and Superior were the only other campuses where enrollment was up.

UW-Stevens Point and Platteville saw the largest declines at 9.7% each.

The university described the systemwide 2.6% drop was “modest” and are part of a trend of fewer high school graduates and low unemployment rates amid a strong economy.

Security Guard Fired for Saying N-Word

Another victim of zero-tolerance.

Outrage was growing among members of Madison’s black community Thursday, a day after a black West High School security guard was fired for what he said was explicitly telling a student not to call him the N-word after the student repeatedly called him the slur.

Marlon Anderson’s Facebook post in which he describes his termination from the Madison School District after working there for 11 years generated hundreds of comments supporting the former school worker. Many derided the district’s zero-tolerance policy toward use of the slur by staff in any context.

Sorry. Context and nuance are no longer tolerated.

Chicago Teachers Strike

For the kids, right?

CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago parents and community groups are scrambling to prepare for a massive teachers’ strike set to begin Thursday, prompting the city to preemptively cancel classes in the nation’s third-largest school district.

The Chicago Teachers Union confirmed Wednesday night that its 25,000 members would not return to their classrooms Thursday after months of negotiation between the union and Chicago Public Schools failed to resolve disputes over pay and benefits, class size and teacher preparation time.

The strike is Chicago’s first major walkout by teachers since 2012 and city officials announced early Wednesday that all classes had been canceled for Thursday in hopes of giving more planning time to the parents of more than 300,000 students.

Thiesfeldt Wants Better Return on Investment

Yes

Madison – Yesterday, as required by law, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) released the certified state general aid that goes out to all school districts. Wisconsin districts in 2019-20 will be receiving $4.7 billion of equalization aid from taxpayers through the state’s funding formula, a 1.8% increase. This follows on the heels of a similar increase for 2018-19. Since 2013, equalization aid has consistently surpassed the Consumer Price Index, showing the Legislature’s dedication to providing healthy inflationary increases to educate Wisconsin’s children.

However, the results aren’t matching up with the investment. Annual test scores released last month showed that 60% of Wisconsin students are not able to read or perform math at grade level. Just as alarming, Wisconsin continues to have one of the worst achievement gaps in the nation. State Representative Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac,) Chair of the Assembly Education Committee, released the following statement regarding yesterday’s funding announcement:

“With the enactment of the 2019-21 budget, state education funding, through DPI management, provides for an average of nearly 2/3 of the dollars to operate K-12 public schools. In fact, over 35% of general purpose revenue for the entire state goes to K-12 education. The results of this investment are not meeting expectations and have not done so in many years,” said Rep. Thiesfeldt. “Instead of just continuing to pour money into schools, it is past time for the DPI, the Legislature, and the Governor to recognize that when the pathway is flawed, increased spending does not lead to better results. Our focus needs to turn to stronger teacher training in the use of proven instructional methods, traditional roles for our schools, and engaged parenting.”

Leading the West Bend way

Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News yesterday.

In the wake of the failed referendum for the West Bend School District, the mayor of West Bend, Kraig Sadownikow, organized a private task force of local leaders to evaluate the maintenance and capital projects at the district’s high school and Jackson elementary facilities and share independent findings.

The task force was generously provided funding by Kevin Steiner of West Bend Mutual Insurance and Tim Schmidt of Delta Defense to retain Zimmerman Architectural Studios to provide technical facilities expertise.

The task force presented its findings to the West Bend School Board Monday night. Those findings show a different way forward for the West Bend School District and a model for other school districts to follow.

I am a member of the task force. While the findings are those of the task force, the opinions expressed in this column are my own. I will admit that I was dubious about participating in such an endeavor. The process was enlightening and enriching. I encourage the reader to go read the complete findings in the minutes of Monday night’s meeting available on the school district’s website and elsewhere.

To summarize the task force’s findings, the West Bend School District could accomplish everything it wanted to do in the referendum and much, much more without spending a dollar more than they already are. To do that, however, it will take some smart decisions and hard work. The district has some real facilities needs. While spending money is necessary to meet those needs, spending more money is not.

First, there are some realities facing the district. Enrollment is declining and is projected to continue declining for the next decade or more. The most recent enrollment tally taken last month shows that enrollment is declining even faster than the projections made last year. This isn’t a problem with the district. It is a demographic trend that is happening throughout the state. Proactive management in an age of declining enrollment and revenues is even more crucial than in an age of plenty.

Second, the district has done a poor job of in terms of general maintenance and capital facilities management. This is a systemic problem that stretches back many years. For example, the current capital maintenance budget of about $1.5 million is woefully inadequate for a district with about 1.5 million square feet of buildings. In the elementary schools alone, there is about $22.5 million of capital expenses looming over the next decade that are mostly unfunded. Whether intentional or not, the district has been managing facilities by letting them decay prematurely due to inadequate maintenance, and then passing referendums to replace them.

Also, the school district built a 25-year capital plan several years ago. The plan was built on projections of increasing enrollment for decades to come. The reality is that enrollment is declining and will continue to decline, but the 25-year plan was never updated to reflect the new realities. A long-range capital facilities plan that is continually refreshed with current data and scrutinized in public is critical.

Before embarking on an ambitious plan to build and renovate buildings, the School Board must rectify these budgetary and planning deficiencies to demonstrate that the West Bend School District will break the cycle of neglect and replace. The district cannot make new investments in facilities before solving the problem of maintaining what they have.

The failed referendum sought to make some significant renovations to the high school and replace Jackson Elementary. For the high school, the task force validated that there are some true needs that require work.

There are also a couple of areas where the building could be upgraded to drive a lot of value for a reasonable cost.

The failed referendum also sought to replace Jackson Elementary. This is where the task force’s findings took a turn that I did not expect. The Jackson Elementary building has significant problems, but just replacing it was always folly. It is an expensive endeavor that pours a fortune into one problem while leaving all of the other problems wanting.

The task force found that the district could build a state-of-the-art new elementary school campus on the south side of West Bend. Into the new building, the district could consolidate Jackson Elementary, Decorah Elementary, Fair Park Elementary, the district offices, the maintenance shed, and Rolfs Education Center into the single building. By combining six district buildings into a single campus, the district could provide a 21st-century learning environment to far more kids while saving millions of dollars per year in operational costs.

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.

More work is needed and much more public discussion must take place, but there is a legitimate path to make significant upgrades to the West Bend School District’s facilities, break the cycle of neglect and replace, and do so without increasing spending or taxes.

The West Bend School District can lead the way. Other school districts in Wisconsin should follow.

Leading the West Bend way

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. As you might expect, it about the work of the West Bend School District Private Task Force. Go pick up a copy, and see the news story about the same topic. Here’s a thrust of the column:

To summarize the task force’s findings, the West Bend School District could accomplish everything it wanted to do in the referendum and much, much more without spending a dollar more than they already are. To do that, however, it will take some smart decisions and hard work. The district has some real facilities needs. While spending money is necessary to meet those needs, spending more money is not.

[…]

More work is needed and much more public discussion must take place, but there is a legitimate path to make significant upgrades to the West Bend School District’s facilities, break the cycle of neglect and replace, and do so without increasing spending or taxes.

West Bend School District Private Task Force Presents to School Board

The Washington County Insider has video of the presentation, comments from some attendees, and has posted the presentation. You can download the entire presentation here or check it out at the Washington County Insider.

In summary, after a metric crap ton of work, the Task Force found:

  1. The 25 year facilities plan is out of date and based on bad inputs. It needs to be redrafted and continually updated.
  2. Overall maintenance for the district is chronically underfunded by a factor of 2X-3X, leading to structured decay of facilities.
  3. These two things need to be fixed before venturing into a building/renovating initiative so that we break the cycle.
  4. There are legitimate facilities needs that need to be addressed.

Then, we offered some findings for the High School and Elementary Schools that spurred the referendum. For the High School, the Task Force identified some legitimate needs and the opportunity to do a couple of wants for a total of $21.3 million.

The Elementary Schools is where the boldest idea came into play. The Task Force evaluated several options, but the one that makes the most sense is to:

  • Build an awesome new Elementary School and Campus somewhere on the south side of West Bend and make a small addition to Green Tree Elementary.
  • Into the new Southside campus, consolidate Decorah Elementary, Fair Park Elementary, Jackson Elementary, the District Office, the maintenance shed, and Rolf Education Center. Sell all of those other properties and put them back on the tax rolls. It would mean closing and selling seven buildings/land (including the empty land that was purchased for a new Jackson Elementary) and replacing them with a single facility.
  • Total cost for this is about $28.6 million.

So far we’re spending $49.9 million. Outrageous! OWEN… WHAT THE HECK!?!? ARE YOU SUPPORTING MORE SPENDING AND A MASSIVE NEW REFERENDUM!?!?!?

Kinda, but here’s the key… through the consolidation of the elementary schools and other facilities and making some choices about outsourcing or economizing some support services like custodial, IT, grounds keeping, food service, etc., the district can free up enough of their operating budget to cover the mortgage payment for the new buildings AND put more money into maintenance so that the district’s facilities will be properly maintained moving forward.

A referendum would be required to borrow the money to execute on a plan like this, but it would not constitute incremental spending and would NOT require a tax increase. The district would be able to make major upgrades to the physical infrastructure while living within its means.

Solving problems without spending more money? That’s a conservative path forward. All you have to do is go into it with the mindset that it can be done… because it can.

I don’t usually spend much time in the comments, but if you have serious questions about the Task Force’s findings, the thought process behind them, or the homework supporting them, I will endeavor to answer them in the comments of this post. For a while…

WBSDPTF To Present to the West Bend School Board at 5:30

Don’t forget.

5:30 PM at the District Offices located at 735 S. Main St. West Bend.

I hear that the Washington County Insider will be live streaming the meeting on Facebook. I think the district posts a recording, but doesn’t stream live. Later this evening, I will post the presentation and offer some further commentary. I am hopeful that it is the beginning of a new conversation about our school district’s physical infrastructure.

Come by or tune in!

UW Regents Moving Ahead with Free Speech Rules

I’m skeptical.

The University of Wisconsin Board of Regents has approved the scope of proposed new rules aimed at punishing students who disrupt free speech on campus. But just after the vote was taken, a spokeswoman for Gov. Tony Evers said he continues to oppose the rules.

The governor’s opinion matters because any rule change proposed by the UW System cannot go into effect without his support.

The Friday vote was largely procedural in nature. It allows the UW System to work on what is called a “scope statement” that sets punishments for students caught repeatedly disrupting the free speech or freedom of expression of campus speakers or fellow students. Under the proposed language, a student disrupting free speech on two occasions would have to be suspended. If there was another disruption from the student, they would face mandatory expulsion.

The board and UW System have been working on the policy since 2017. The regent’s policy on “Commitment to Academic Freedom and Freedom of Expression” was introduced shortly after state Republican lawmakers introduced legislation with similar provisions. Before the matter was put to a vote, Regents President Drew Petersen announced support for moving the process forward.

The issue is important. Too many college campuses have become outright hostile to speech that deviates from modern liberal orthodoxy. Anyone who offers contrary opinions are shouted down and denied access. But regulating free speech with set punishments is a tricky business. At the heart of any regulation is, “who decides?” Who decides what constitutes a disruption vs. expressing a different opinion? Some cases are obvious – shouting down a speaker, for example – but what about a noticeable harrumph? What about being quiet but holding up a sign? Does it depend on what the sign says? Do the lefty administrators who are allowing conservatives to be shouted off campus now get to decide these things? Would this new policy just be used as a bludgeon against certain kinds of speakers? We have a cultural drift to intolerance and this rule might just weaponize one side.

I don’t envy the Regents. This is a tricky business. These issues are pregnant with nuances and context. It is very difficult to write a rule that encompasses the grey areas.

WBSDPTF To Present to School Board Tomorrow at 1730

After months of work, the West Bend School District Private Task Force is going to present our findings to the West Bend School Board tomorrow afternoon at 5:30. For some background, the Task Force was formed after the failed school referendum in April to take a hard look at the facilities issues cited in the referendum and offer some independent findings.

I was a bit dubious going into the work, but found it enlightening and enriching. We did a lot of work. We toured buildings, interviewed staff, dug through reports, spoke with many local contractors, got architectural designs and quotes, looked at neighboring districts, debated, argued, and finally reached some consensus.

The Task Force will be sharing some bold findings, but I hope it is the beginning of a different conversation about the direction of our school district.

Please attend the meeting or catch the live stream. For those who would like to see me put on pants and come out of my basement, I will be presenting a portion too.

5:30 PM at the District Offices located at 735 S. Main St. West Bend.

Come on by. You should be home before the Packer game.