Jun 5, 201510:25 AMBlaska's Bring It!
with David Blaska
School board member says Madison schools can’t compete
(page 1 of 2)
Poor, aggrieved Madison is under attack. Those nefarious Republicans in the legislature have a “Scheme to Stick Charter Schools in Madison.” In Madison — cosseted, blue-fist-of-anger Madison!
So says Ed Hughes, past president and veteran member of the Madison Metro School Board, who offers a Letterman-like “Top Ten Reasons To Be Wary of the Republican Scheme.”
The legislative “scheme” would create an office, under the direction of the UW System president, to evaluate and oversee charter school applications in Madison and Milwaukee. As with vouchers to purely private schools, the state shared revenue follows the student. The public school district saves money because it does not have to educate that student, but it still collects the same property taxes.
I like Ed; I’m not picking on him — I’m arguing the case for reform, for competition, for trusting parents to make the best decisions for their kids.
It is a worthy debate, for there is little doubt that the full school board, its superintendent, its teachers union, the Democratic Party, Mayor Soglin, and probably the majority of Madisonians share Ed’s sentiments. For the festive rest of us, the white lab coats at the Blaska Policy Research Werkes have developed an alternative Top Ten, dedicated to the late Larry “Bud” Melman.
1) Attack the motives of your adversaries. “What’s tougher is buying into [the] interpretation that the Joint Finance Committee Republicans are the good guys here, struggling mightily to do what’s right for our kids,” Ed Hughes says. “My much different interpretation is that the Joint Finance proposal is simply another cynical attack on our neighborhood public schools and is motivated both by animus for Madison and by an unseemly obsession with privatizing public education, particularly in the urban areas of our state.”
Unseemly! Particularly in urban Milwaukee, where the public school district as a whole has received a failing grade from the Department of Public Instruction, and in Madison, with a yawning chasm between black and white student achievement.
2) Nobody asked our permission. Ed complains that nobody consulted MMSD about its “strategies for enhancing student achievement, promising practices, charter school philosophy, or anything else.” Um, sometimes results speak louder than pretty words on paper, Ed.
3) It’s a conspiracy! Hughes peddles the conspiracy theory that the sponsors are “taking direction from charter school lobbyists.” Could be, can’t say. But we do know the Doyle administration took direction from the teachers union. As do certain school boards. (Cough, cough.)
4) Conjure hobgoblins — greedy profiteers! Like liberal-progressive-socialists everywhere, Hughes frets that for-profit companies will operate some of the new charter schools. We can only hope! If Apple Computers operates schools in Madison they WILL make a profit, because they’ll deliver a great product.
5) Resort to partisanship. Nothing like insulting the party in power AND the UW president. Hughes maligns UW System President Ray Cross, suggesting that the educator is more interested “in keeping Republicans in the legislature happy” than in providing more educational opportunities.