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Mar 22, 201309:17 AMBlaska's Bring It!

with David Blaska

Chicago’s public schools are in shutdown mode

Chicago’s public schools are in shutdown mode

(page 1 of 2)

May explain why former Chicago schools administrator Jennifer Cheatham sought greater opportunities here in Madison. The Chicago school system is closing 61 school buildings to address a $1 billion deficit; 140 of its 681 schools are at least half-empty. (More about that here.)

Might not a tiny voice be whispering to Fighting Ed Garvey, John Nichols, Jeff Simpson, the UW School of Education, and other bitter-enders that perhaps the Chicago teachers union bears some responsibility for a) the financial deficit and b) the flight of students out of the public schools? It was, after all, the Chicago teachers union that walked out on students last September to fight performance measures and a longer school day.

Fighting Ed Garvey is not a stupid man. But he does suffer from labor union fixation disorder. Visit his blog on that subject today and tell me if Ed doesn’t remind you of the guy stocking up on matches as his house burns down. Bad schools are how cities die.

I’m sticking with the union

Former mayor Dave Cieslewicz gets it: “Two things are clear – despite her previous lack interest in education issues, [Sarah] Manski was encouraged to run by the old guard liberal establishment (most of it white), and her gambit essentially ended up freezing out a minority candidate in Ananda Mirilli, who finished third and so didn’t advance to the general election in April.”

Former mayor Dave Cieslewicz does not get it: He ascribes the revolt of Madison’s minority community to a “generational divide” afflicting “aging progressives.” (Mayor Dave’s blog: “Aging leadership makes change harder for Madison schools.”)

He’s wrong about that; age has nothing to do with it. Fealty to organized labor, recognizing that its money and foot soldiers fuel the liberal enterprise, is to blame. Sarah Manski and Greg Packnett, after all, are still young people. Paul Soglin and John Matthews were just as pigheaded when they were in their 20s. Stu Levitan is getting superannuated, but he seems to get it.

What is at fault here is progressivism itself. It supposes that a right-minded elite (not coincidentally afflicted with a visceral hatred of the marketplace) should deny the less inspired the ability to make “wrong” decisions. A tax-coerced public school system run by these elites is the end goal, instead of merely a means to an end – that end being educating children.

One more thing local progressives don’t get: They presume minority race folks share their progressivism because, gosh darn it, don’t they owe them big-time? Didn’t they work for Bobby Kennedy?

People want a choice

Is that so difficult to understand? The Marquette Law School poll just out shows 51% of respondents statewide – and, surprisingly, in Madison – support expanding school choice vouchers compared to 14% who are opposed to any expansion and another 28% who want the program repealed altogether. Support for charter schools runs 42% favorable to 16% unfavorable. Respondents also understand that competition improves schools, that charter schools do NOT take money away from other public schools, and that charter schools have the flexibility to fit the needs of particular students.

Old to new | New to old
Mar 22, 2013 01:27 pm
 Posted by  coolkevs

Mary Burke sez she will write-in Mirilli for School Board. But you say, just go ahead and vote Manski. I can't decide which vote makes more of a statement.

Mar 22, 2013 05:01 pm
 Posted by  David Blaska

I'm torn on that, too. I believe that, unless you declare a write-in candidacy, the clerk does not count write-in votes by candidate, just the total number. Ms. Mirilli has definitely not declared a write-in candidacy. Whereas, Manski is on the ballot. Electing her would be a huge embarrassment to the Machine. We do need to come to some consensus on this, however.

Mar 26, 2013 03:23 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Having worked in Chicago's inner city for 20 years this is somewhat simplistic. The drop in enrollment is largely due to the flight of the middle class families out of the city. A significant portion of that is due to police corruption (having had to drive a mob drug dealer out of the house next door before I sold my 2 flat in a really nice neighborhood except for the corrupt cops) Currently the city of Chicago has a lot of inner city charter schools so there are some choices. It was by the way the late 1980's before principals in the Chicago Schools had keys to their schools! The janitors; union controlled when the schools opened and closed- they were of more interest to the Daley etc. machines than the teachers union! The major school reform at that time was principal's getting keys top the schools! Then Ruth Love came in and contracted the textbooks out to old friends so there were reading texts with misspelling. I would say corruption is more the reason the schools failed and the fact that the schools were not a priority period for over 150 years. The teacher's union has far less power there than here. I would argue the bigger issues in maintaining good teachers are free fire zones especially around the schools (everybody in some neighbrohoods criminals and good citizens are armed) than a lot of other things. Corrupt cops and corrupt city government is what did in Chicago- corrupt unions was just part of it. Sadly corruption and cronyism in state government seems to be on the increase here- Wisconsin seems like Chicago more everyday except the Chicago economy isfar stronger- in my second job I don't bother selling in Wiscosnin I do shows in Chicago and Minnesota. Far more profitable

Mar 26, 2013 08:34 pm
 Posted by  ssquared

No doubt Garvey, Soglin and Mathews are already preparing an announcement that the public better shut up since they don't know what's good for them whereas Garvey, Soglin and Mathews do.

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About This Blog

Raised on a farm near Sun Prairie, David Blaska is a recovering liberal who spent 18 years in daily newspapers, including 12 at The Capital Times in Madison as a reporter and editor. He served Gov. Tommy Thompson as acting press secretary in 1998 and is a veteran and survivor of 19 years in state government. He served 12 years on the Dane County Board of Supervisors. From December 2007 to November 2011 he wrote the consistently popular "Blaska's Blog" for Isthmus online's "The Daily Page" until, he says, the intolerant liberals ran him off. He blogs from Madison.

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