Category Archives: Education

“school board member is the most underutilized position in Wisconsin.”

Bill Savage’s letter to the editor in the Washington County Daily News is spot on. In West Bend, we will have a referendum on the same ballot as the school board candidates. Voters deserve to know exactly where they stand.

To the editor: After serving on Hartford’s school boards for 12 years, I can tell you with the utmost certainty that being a school board member is the most underutilized position in Wisconsin.

Since Act 10, school boards have an enormous amount of influence over several issues. School boards can offer merit-based bonus programs, provide direction for curriculum and set the tone for the educational experience children receive. School boards have the ability to make personnel changes. No longer do board members have to sit back and watch the union veto every decision made. Since Act 10, being a school board member is an important position.

I’ve asked the question before, but I’ll ask it again: Where does the buck stop at the Hartford Union High School? The principal? The administrator? The School Board? The proverbial buck stops with you, the voter.

In the last election for the HUHS Board of Education, there were three candidates vying for two seats — three candidates with no campaign. Not one flier was distributed, not one issue was discussed and not one article on their positions was written.

The absence of an issue-based campaign serves no one. Right now we run the risk of having an entire school board that really doesn’t know why they were elected or what is expected of them. Running for office on issues and winning gives you a moral compass on what direction the people who elected you expect you to pursue. Without that moral compass, those board members do not have the confidence to stand up for us, or shall I say, “we the people.”

In April, there are four candidates for two seats. I’d like to know why they are running, what their concerns are, and of course, more importantly, what they intend to do to improve HUHS.

Bill Savage


West Bend School Board Needs Conservative Candidates

I pulled this blurb out of Judy Steffes’ Around the Bend piece.

Two candidates have now filed papers to run for two open seats on the West Bend School Board as two incumbents have filed non-candidacy papers.

According to Deb Roensch from the Education Service Center said incumbents Ken Schmidt and Tiffany Larson have both filed non-candidacy papers. The pair were elected to the West Bend School Board in April 2016.

On Friday, Dec. 21, Paul Fischer, an elder at Kettlebrook Church, filed candidacy papers. On Dec. 23, Erin Dove, posted an announcement on social media about her intentions to run. A portion of her announcement is below.

We’re losing a great, solid conservative in Ken Schmidt, who was sadly orphaned on the board in the last couple of years. He’ll be missed. As a staunch advocate for the WBEA’s agenda, Tiffany Larson won’t be missed at all. This is the chance to put two good conservatives on the board to begin to check the agenda of the liberal school board majority. The school referendum will almost certainly be on the same April ballot, so the battle lines should be clearly drawn.

I don’t know Erin Dove and I look forward to hearing her views. I did have a chance to hear from Paul Fischer at the Concerned Citizens of Washington County meeting last week. Given that he supports a referendum to build a new Jackson Elementary, thinks teachers haven’t received a raise in 5 years (don’t know where that talking point came from), couldn’t think of anything to cut in the face of declining enrollment, and generally regurgitated all of the local liberal talking points about the schools, I won’t be supporting him.

We need some good conservatives to run for school board. Here’s how to do it.

The deadline to file papers to run for School Board is 5 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019.  Declaration of Candidacy form and a Campaign Registration statement must be completed and can be dropped off at the Education Service Center, 735 S. Main Street, West Bend (across from Badger Middle School).

Bear in mind that they are closed until the 2nd, so you’d have to drop off the paperwork on Wednesday.

Dangers of Early Childhood Education


The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that approximately 11 percent of children ages four to seventeen have been diagnosed with ADHD, and that number increased 42 percent from 2003-2004 to 2011-2012, with a majority of those diagnosed placed on medication. Perhaps more troubling, one-third of these diagnoses occur in children under age six

It should be no surprise that as we place young children in artificial learning environments, separated from their family for long lengths of time, and expect them to comply with a standardized, test-driven curriculum, it will be too much for many of them.

New findings by Harvard Medical School researchers confirm that it’s not the children who are failing, it’s the schools we place them in too early. These researchers discovered that children who start school as among the youngest in their grade have a much greater likelihood of getting an ADHD diagnosis than older children in their grade. In fact, for the U.S. states studied with a September 1st enrollment cut-off date, children born in August were 30 percent more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than their older peers.

The study’s lead researcher at Harvard, Timothy Layton, concludes: “Our findings suggest the possibility that large numbers of kids are being overdiagnosed and overtreated for ADHD because they happen to be relatively immature compared to their older classmates in the early years of elementary school.”

Parents don’t need Harvard researchers to tell them that a child who just turned five is quite different developmentally from a child who is about to turn six. Instead, parents need to be empowered to challenge government schooling motives and mandates, and to opt-out.

As universal government preschool programs gain traction, delaying schooling or opting out entirely can be increasingly difficult for parents. Iowa, for example, recently lowered its compulsory schooling age to four-year-olds enrolled in a government preschool program.

Deciding when a child should enter school is one of the most far-reaching decisions of a young parent’s life. The overwhelming societal pressure is to do it as soon as possible, but that’s not always best. I like to think of age differences in terms of percentages. A 2-year-old is 100% older than a 1-year old. A 5-year-old is 25% older than a 4-year-old. The larger the percentage, the greater the difference in kids – and then one has to factor in the individual characteristics of the child. Some kids mature faster than others.

There is a big difference in 4-year-old Kindergarten, for example, between the brand new 4-year-olds born in August and the ones that were born in the October before. Those older kids are almost 25% older than their classmates and in a different part of their development. And yet schools are necessarily designed to teach to the mean. The problem is that the younger the child is, the greater the deviation from that mean.

This is why I don’t support mandatory 4-year-old Kindergarten. I don’t support mandatory 5-year-old Kindergarten for the same reason. Ideally, a loving parent at home is far better equipped to address the specific development needs of their child to get them ready for their formal education years. When that is not the case, Kindergarten might be a better choice for the child. And even then, a parent should have the choice to decide which level is most appropriate for their child.

Madison Schools Want More Control of Police on Campus

Here’s a name that’s a blast from the past.

School Board President Mary Burke said she wants to work collaboratively with MPD on the contract.

“We take very seriously the fact that as a school district, we are ultimately responsible for the adults who interact with our students, and in the unlikely event that an issue arises, we want to be able to work collaboratively with MPD to address it,” Burke said in an email. “We believe that is a reasonable and responsible request, and we’re looking forward to further discussion.”

Here’s what they are fighting over:

Though the Madison School Board approved an amended contract Monday that would keep police officers in the city’s four main high schools, Police Chief Mike Koval said Tuesday that he’ll never agreed to the new language.

“We had never agreed (nor will I ever agree) to language regarding the ability to remove an officer for ’cause,'” Koval said in a blog post. “The School District floated this language out last week and it was made unequivocally clear that I would not agree to this language.”

The School Board voted unanimously to adopt the amended language, which would give the district the authority to remove a police officer — described in the contract as a school resource officer or SRO — from school if they found cause. The amended contract itself was approved by a 4-2 vote.

“I will reiterate that the processes for disciplining or assigning officers are governed by state law and labor contract, and these rights cannot be bargained away in an agreement with a third party,” Koval wrote. “We have always worked cooperatively with MMSD to select our resource officers and to address any areas of improvement. However, the law does not permit us to pre-determine discipline through the contract language that was suggested.”

UW Whitewater Chancellor Resigns

Well, it’s about time. We still haven’t gotten to the bottom of her involvement in giving her husband access and opportunity to abuse the university’s employees.

WHITEWATER (WKOW) — UW-Whitewater Chancellor Beverly Kopper today announced she has submitted her resignation and will step down at the end of the year.

The UW Board of Regents recently denied a raise to Kopper, whose husband was banned from the Whitewater campus this summer and stripped of an honorary, unpaid position after an investigation concluded he had sexually harassed female employees.

The UW System opened another investigation into Kopper’s husband in September after at least one more woman came forward.

Taxpayers to Refund Borrowers for Bad Debt

I truly dislike a policy in which the taxpayers have to refund a private transaction that went bad. It’s a horrible policy and it was just a handout from the Obama administration to buy votes with our money. But I am heartened to see Executive Branch officials who follow the law – even when they don’t like it. Too often we saw the Obama Administration just ignore court rulings with which they disagreed and plow ahead with their ill-advised policies.

The Education Department said Thursday it will cancel $150 million in federal student loan debt, despite Secretary Betsy DeVos’ efforts to overhaul the Obama-era policy.

DeVos proposed restricting “borrower defense” claims filed by former students whose schools closed or made false promises, but has to carry out regulations after court rulings sided with students.

Three months ago, a federal judge ruled that DeVos’ attempts to kill the 2016 regulations were illegal, Politico reported. The judge also rejected for-profit colleges’ bid to stop the policy in October.

The department said Thursday it will forgive loans for about 15,000 borrowers whose schools closed, preventing them from finishing their programs. About half of those borrowers attended Corinthian Colleges, a for-profit educational chain that closed its campuses in 2015. They will account for $80 million of the automatically discharged loans, while borrowers whose schools closed between Nov. 1, 2013, and Dec. 4, 2018, will account for the other $70 million.

West Bend Teachers in Pay Dispute with District

This is pretty straightforward.

WEST BEND — When the West Bend School District’s Board of Education met Oct. 29, Sally Heuer, a West Bend West teacher and member of the executive board of the West Bend Educators Association, voiced concerns about the lack of accountability and follow through for a compensation plan that allows teachers to earn stipends for meeting certain requirements like professional development.

The teachers claimed they were never told by the district there would be no stipend while they continued to work toward those requirements outside of the school day, on their own time and at their expense.

At the meeting, dozens of teachers sat in the audience to show their support as Heuer reminded the Board they have held up their end of the deal and trusted the district administration would hold up theirs.


In response to Heuer and the WBEA’s concerns, David Hammelman, human resources director for the West Bend School District, said administration turnover was to blame for teachers not being paid the stipends they worked for in the 2017-18 school year. He said the district is going to make a new plan for the year and revise the teacher salary framework.

There is a contract or there isn’t. Irrespective of whether or not one thinks the compensation plan is a good one or not, if the district agreed to a compensation plan with employees, then the district needs to pay up. Gross management incompetence is no excuse. And yes, failing to pay your employees correctly because you failed to manage staff transitions is gross management incompetence.

West Bend School Board Meets Tonight

It’s a little hard to keep up, but there are three consecutive meetings of the West Bend School Board tonight for the purpose of buying land and considering a referendum for next year. Because, you know, fancy new buildings and more real estate will improve education *smh*

The Washington County Insider did us the favor of sorting through the announcements and summarizing them for us. Attend if you can. These are open to the public and all of the people who want to spend your money will be there.

NOTE that the purchase of the property requires the approval of the electors. The electors are any adult residents of the district, so show up and VOTE. Again, the people who want to spend the money will be there. If you would rather not, show up and vote in the SECOND meeting at 6:15.

Nov. 26, 2018 – West Bend, WI – Tonight, Monday, Nov. 26 the West Bend School Board will hold three meetings. Agenda items include a proposed April 2019 referendum and land purchase in Jackson.



The first meeting Nov. 26 is a Board Work Session at 5:15 p.m.  The meeting will be held at the Education Service Center, 735 S. Main Street, West Bend
5:15 pm, Board Room.  The meeting is open to the public.



The second meeting Nov. 26 is in the Education Service Center, 735 S. Main Street, West Bend 6:15 pm, Board Room Meeting of Electors  The meeting is open to the public.
The final meeting on Monday is the Regular Board of Education Meeting Monday, Nov. 26, 2018 Location: Education Service Center, 735 S. Main Street, West Bend  Time: 6:30 p.m., Board Room. The meeting is open to the public.
Note: Action Items !. 6:58 Resolution to approve the purchase of certain real property.
Category Action Items Subject  6:58 Resolution to approve the purchase of certain real property

West Bend School Board to Buy More Property

Wow. I see that the West Bend School Board is up to its usual tricks. They gave notice yesterday – the Friday after Thanksgiving – for a special meeting on Monday to vote on spending $750,000 on real estate in Jackson for a possible future school. This is despite presiding over a district with declining enrollment and $130 million in debt. Here’s the rationale:

Regardless of whether the board decides to have a referendum in spring of 2019, the property to the north of our vacant land would make our property a much better site for an elementary building. Furthermore, the purchase of this property would enable the Village of Jackson to move ahead with their plans.

It’s cute how they pretend that they might not go to referendum in spring.

Anyway, be sure to attend if you’re in town. It’s your only chance to weigh in.

The final meeting on Monday is the Regular Board of Education Meeting Monday, Nov. 26, 2018 Location: Education Service Center, 735 S. Main Street, West Bend  Time: 6:30 p.m., Board Room. The meeting is open to the public.
Note: Action Items !. 6:58 Resolution to approve the purchase of certain real property.

Evers Promises Massive Spending Increase

As expected.

MADISON (WKOW) — Governor-elect Tony Evers is remaining confident he will increase funding for Wisconsin public schools by 10 percent despite GOP leaders having doubts.

Evers proposed a $1.4 billion education budget as the State Superintendent back in September when state agencies submitted their spending plans.

It’s a proposal he hopes to keep as the next governor even though GOP leaders, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald didn’t seem confident last week. Speaker Vos shot down the proposal assuming it would only work if there was a massive tax increase to pay for it.

“It literally cannot be accomplished without either taking from some to give to another or a massive tax increase,” said Vos last week when speaking to reporters.

Evers said while visiting hundreds of students at a vocational training center in Coloma that it’s “reasonable.”

“My goal is to go forward with the budget I have… it’s property tax neutral,” said Evers.

Once again I will point out the intellectual bankruptcy of increasing spending on education for the sake of increasing spending on education. Spending on education has become a proxy for actually doing something and is a crutch used by politicians of both sides who have nothing real to offer.

People: “What are you going to do to improve education?”

Politician: “Spend more of your money on it!”

People: “How will that improve educational outcomes?”

Politician: “YOU HATE KIDS!”

And around we go…

In other news, notice the language by Evers… “property tax neutral…” The state doesn’t even have a property tax anymore. Education is funded with sales and income taxes. Let’s hope that Vos and Fitz remain strong and loyal to the voters in their districts who elected them.

West Bend School Board Considers Buying Property

The West Bend School Board will meet tonight to discuss the potential purchase of property for a new Jackson Elementary School.

Nov. 12, 2018 – West Bend, WI – During tonight’s Monday meeting, Nov. 12, of the West Bend School Board a discussion will be held on the “Potential land purchase in Jackson.”

According to the district website:

Topic and Background:

In approximately 2009 the West Bend School District purchased a 6.38 acre parcel of land on Jackson Dr. in the Village of Jackson in anticipation of reconstructing the existing Jackson Elementary. Since the purchased property was small for an elementary school, discussions occurred at the time between the district and village about securing additional land to the north that was owned by the Village of Jackson.

In recognition that the district was moving toward the building a new Jackson Elementary on the new site, the Jackson DPW moved to a new site and the Village began searching for a property on which to construct a new safety building to house the police and fire departments.

In early 2017, the district and the village agreed to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding to have appraisals done on the existing Jackson Elementary, Fire Department and DPW properties. Each party paid for the appraisal of their individual properties and agreed to exchange the documents. Each party recognized the importance of securing the additional property for any potential new school.

Within the last several weeks the Village has put in an offer on the site for the new safety building. The offer has been accepted and closing is set for mid – December. The village offer to purchase is contingent upon the sale of the existing DPW and Fire Department parcels.

Since a new safety building would not be complete prior to the sale of the property, the district would lease the fire department back to the village for a minimal sum. The village would be responsible for all maintenance and utilities associated with the building.


Regardless of whether the board decides to have a referendum in spring of 2019, the property to the north of our vacant land would make our property a much better site for an elementary building. Furthermore, the purchase of this property would enable the Village of Jackson to move ahead with their plans.


Total purchase price $750,000.00.

More at the Washington County Insider.

So the School Board wants to buy property for a new building that they don’t have funding for in a district that has declining enrollment when they are already $130 million is debt.


West Bend Teachers Unions Complains about Back Pay

Indeed, if they were operating under an old compensation plan that included stipends, and they were not paid, then their grievance is legitimate. Good management honors its commitments.

WEST BEND — During the Public Participation portion of the West Bend School Board meeting Monday night, Sally Heuer, a teacher at West Bend West, addressed the Board as a member of the Executive Board of the West Bend Educators Association and, on behalf of the WBEA, asked that the district pay its veteran teachers the stipends they were promised for the 2017-18 school year.

The room was filled with West Bend district teachers that came to show their support of Heuer as she reminded the Board that, as of now, veteran teachers have been refused the pay they earned through the stipend program and, though they were told there would be a new teacher compensation plan, they have not been officially told that the district is no longer honoring what they promised, so they are operating under the previous plan that stated veteran teachers would be given a stipend for completing the tasks on their teacher’s scorecard.

Heuer pointed out that the district is continuing to follow other parts of the compensation plan and asked the Board why the district is choosing to ignore the part that calls for promised compensation.

Getting Better Educational Outcomes

Maybe it’s not all about “finding yourself” and class size.

Today Singapore’s education system is considered the best in the world. The country consistently ranks at the top of the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), a triennial test of 15-year-olds in dozens of countries, in the main three categories of maths, reading and science. Singaporean pupils are roughly three years ahead of their American peers in maths. Singapore does similarly well in exams of younger children, and the graduates of its best schools can be found scattered around the world’s finest universities.

The island-state has much to teach the world. But other countries are reluctant pupils. One reason is that Singapore favours traditional pedagogy, with teachers leading the class. That contrasts with many reformers’ preference for looser, more “progressive” teaching intended to encourage children to learn for themselves. Although international studies suggest that direct instruction is indeed a good way of conveying knowledge, critics contend that Singapore has a “drill and kill” model that produces uncreative, miserable maths whizzes. Parents worry about the stress the system puts on their children (and on them, even as they ferry kids to extra classes).

Yet Singapore shows that academic brilliance need not come at the expense of personal skills. In 2015 Singaporean students also came first in a new PISA ranking designed to look at collaborative problem-solving, scoring even better than they did in reading and science. They also reported themselves to be happy—more so than children in Finland, for instance, a country that educationalists regard as an example of how to achieve exceptional results with cuddlier methods of teaching. Not content with its achievements, Singapore is now introducing reforms to improve creativity and reduce stress (see article). This is not a sign of failure, but rather of a gradual, evidence-led approach to education reform—the first of three lessons that Singapore offers the rest of the world.


The third and most important lesson is to focus on developing excellent teachers. In Singapore, they get 100 hours of training a year to keep up to date with the latest techniques. The government pays them well, too. It accepts the need for larger classes (the average is 36 pupils, compared with 24 across the OECD). Better, so the thinking goes, to have big classes taught by excellent teachers than smaller ones taught by mediocre ones.

I’d like to hear more ideas like this out of Evers and Walker instead of “we’re going to spend more on the same thing.”

I’d note that Singapore spends about $10k/year for high schoolers and about $7,700 per kid for elementary schoolers. Wisconsin spends about $11,500 per student. So Singapore is spending a good amount, but less than Wisconsin on education and getting far better results for their kids. Could it be that the answer to better education in Wisconsin isn’t about spending more money? The answer is changing the way we educate kids.

Cedarburg’s Pro-Referendum Propaganda at Taxpayers’ Expense

A few weeks ago, I wrote a column about the sham referendum process in Cedarburg. Part of that process was the survey sent out by School Perceptions that was designed as propaganda – not an honest query of the community. MacIver took a closer look and has revealed just how shady that survey was.

Staff and parents of CSD students were emailed links to an online version of the survey, and then emailed multiple reminders to complete it.

Meanwhile, most local residents got a paper version via the U.S. Postal Service. The district mailed out 8,400 of the surveys—which many discarded as junk mail, according to the local newspaper.

While staff and parents got multiple emails linking directly to the survey and were encouraged to give their paper copy to another adult, everyone else had to go out of their way to request copies using snail mail.

To some, the heads-up to stakeholders more likely to support the ballot question feels more like a statistics trick than an unbiased effort to gauge public opinion. A MacIver News Service investigation in August raised concerns about bias in the district’s information-gathering effort.

“If there is a strategy behind the survey, then it isn’t really a survey and we shouldn’t call it one,” Cedarburg School Board member David Krier wrote in an April 22 email to Superintendent Todd Bugnacki.

Despite Krier’s protest, in two email blasts in the closing weeks of the survey, CSD officials urged parents and staff to fill out the survey online.

The May 22 and 29 emails signed by Bugnacki and the Cedarburg School Board encouraged staff to complete the survey electronically—and give their paper copies to another adult and have them complete that.

“If you reside in the District, you will receive a mailed survey as well and should encourage another adult (eligible to vote) in your home to take the Mail survey,” the email states.

“The involvement of our staff is critical in this process.”

Krier was concerned staff and parents, more likely to green light the referendum, would be able to skew the survey’s findings. Sending them links to the survey would boost their response rate compared with others in the community, like senior citizens.

But that was always the plan, Bugnacki said in a reply to Krier.

“The plan all along was to email the survey to parents, teachers, and staff. All residents within our school district boundaries have or will receive the survey via the mail. Additional surveys are available for families if needed,” Bugnacki wrote in a May 9 email.

Remember that the West Bend School District also used School Perceptions for their propaganda survey.

School Districts Fight to Avoid Tax Cut

From MacIver

[Madison, Wisc…] Homeowners in 148 school districts across Wisconsin will be getting an unexpected tax cut next year, but many of those districts would prefer to keep that a secret – and backfill those savings with new spending.

The reason for the tax cut is the termination of the Energy Efficiency Exemption (EEE). This loophole allowed school districts to raise taxes for supposed energy efficiency projects without going to referendum.

The energy savings on many of these projects is negligible. It will be decades before the savings justify the expense – which was considerable. Last year alone, districts collected an additional $92.3 million through the EEE. With the program eliminated, property taxes in those 148 school districts will automatically drop $92.3 million.

However, 21 of those districts see this as an opportunity to downplay the true tax impact of their referendums on next month’s ballot. For example, the Hartford J1 School District has a referendum for $5.5 million. According to the district’s website, “If the referendum is approved, there would be no impact on current school tax rates over the life of the 15-year borrowing term.”

Southern Door County Schools has a $6,270,000 building referendum that “would not increase your taxes over current levels.”

The Edgerton School District has been more transparent about this tactic than most. It’s trying to convince local residents that a $40.6 million building referendum plus a $1.25 million recurring annual operating referendum will only raise their tax rate by less than a dollar. The finance director, Todd Wehner, openly describes this tactic as a “levy opportunity or a levy shelf.”

Walker Vows to Return to Two-Thirds Funding of K-12

Sigh… once again, a Republican plays into the Democrat paradigm. It’s not about hitting some arbitrary funding amount or percentage. That is not accomplishing anything. It’s about improving educational outcomes for our kids. Unless Walker can articulate how this will improve outcomes, it’s just wasting more of the taxpayers’ money to get the same results.

[Madison, Wis.] – On Monday, Scott Walker announced that he is restoring the two-thirds funding of education by the state of Wisconsin that was instituted under Governor Tommy Thompson – and discarded by Democrats – while continuing to cut taxes for hard-working Wisconsin families. The governor released the following statement:

“We will fund two-thirds of school costs in our next state budget. Our good fiscal management and positive reforms, plus a strong economy, allowed us to make the largest actual-dollar investment in schools in our state budget while still lowering property taxes. Looking ahead, we will fully restore the two-thirds commitment made by former Governor Tommy Thompson. Tony Evers wants to undo our reforms. That would take money out of the classroom and away from students and he would allow property taxes to go up to pay for it.”

UWO Staff Frets about Cuts Despite Decline in Enrollment

This is funny. A professor whines about staff cuts.

OSHKOSH (WLUK) –Concerns among UW-Oshkosh faculty are rising as the school plans to reduce positions.

“The impact is going to be on the students, and that’s unfortunate,” said political science professor, David Siemers.

Siemers said faculty work load would go up; he blames the significant reduction in state support.

“This is an intentional financial crisis of the states choosing, we didn’t create that problem,” said Siemers.

Siemers said more classes for each faculty member means less attention for each student, and a less quality education.


“We’re down about 1,800 students undergraduate students in the last five years. So as a result we simply cannot support the same size faculty and staff,” said Leavitt.

Looking at the 6 fall semesters prior to the current one, there was a 15% decline in enrollment. The university said that’s essentially a loss of nearly $10 million.

It seems to me that the UWO staff has been enjoying a reduced workload for years without nary a peep. Now that the school is finally (way too slow) taking a tiny bit of action to rightsize the staffing level to the number of students, Professor Siemers is fretting. Whatever.

Woke School Cancels Education


When Shorewood High School chose “To Kill a Mockingbird” as this year’s annual fall play, it seemed a relevant commentary on the times.

Based on the Harper Lee classic about a white southern lawyer defending an innocent black man in the 1930s, it is a story about segregation and racism, a broken criminal justice system and the sacrifices of those who would stand up for what is right.

But Lee’s book, which has been banned by many schools across the country, remains as controversial today as it did when she wrote it. On Thursday, just hours before the curtain was to go up, Shorewood canceled the production in response to a planned protest over the use of the ‘N’ word in some scenes.

News of a protest had circulated on social media early in the day.  And by mid-afternoon, Superintendent Bryan Davis pulled the plug, saying the district should have done a better job engaging the community “about the sensitivity of this performance.”

“We’ve concluded that the safest option is to cancel the play,” Davis said in a statement.

Live Broadcast of West Bend School Board

For some reason, the live stream of meetings of the West Bend School Board have not worked for months due to “technical difficulties.” I know… in an age when I can live stream anything in 3 seconds with my phone, that excuse sounds ridiculous. Thankfully, the Washington County Insider is on the case!

You can watch the live stream here.

They are going to talk about the union contract being at an impasse tonight. They are already late, so there’s no telling when it will come up.

UPDATE: Sure enough, the school board declared an impasse after two meetings with the union and imposed the district’s last offer – a blanket 2% base increase including those at the top of the scale. Given the lack of bleating from the usual union folks, it seems that they are pretty happy with it.

Once again, this School Board has failed to utilize their power to create a compensation structure that rewards better student outcomes and the teachers who generate them. In the West Bend School District, every teacher is treated the same, so everyone will trend to the middle, or just good enough to not get fired. Mediocrity throughout.

West Bend Teacher Union Negotiations at an Impasse

From the agenda for Monday’s school board meeting:

Recommended Action
I move to declare negotiations with the WBEA for 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 at impasse, and to implement the District’s final proposal for both years.

According to the law, if the two parties can’t agree, the school board can declare the negotiations at an impasse. This then allows the board to impose their last best offer.

What I find odd is the timing. When the School Board held the annual meeting less than three weeks ago, they specifically noted that they had not yet begun negotiations with the union. It was a point of contention because the proposed budget had about a million dollars in compensation increases, but no information on how that money was to be allocated.

Now, less than three week later, the board has conducted exhaustive negotiations for last year’s and this year’s compensation plans to the point that they are at an impasse? It strikes me that either the negotiating team at the district has a hair trigger at declaring an impasse, which would be unfair to teachers, or that this is a predetermined tactic because the school district is giving the teachers everything they want anyway. By declaring an impasse, the union can continue the fiction of victimhood.

Or I suppose a third scenario could be that the district was already conducting negotiations at the time of the annual meeting and simply lied about it. I don’t think that’s likely.