Mar 6, 201306:47 PMBlaska's Bring It!
with David Blaska
Madison Urban League head calls out Manski and Mertz for dishonest school board campaign
(page 1 of 2)
Kaleem Caire, president of the Urban League of Greater Madison, is speaking out against the campaign of deception waged against people of color and others who support doing something now about Madison’s yawning achievement gap instead of blaming Gov. Scott Walker.
In a statement issued this week, Caire writes, “As the 2013 Madison school board race continues, we (the Urban League) are deeply concerned about the negative politics, dishonesty and inaccurate discussions that have shaped the campaign. ... We are concerned about how Madison Prep has become a red herring ....”
Walker had not even been sworn in as governor when the Urban League proposed establishing a charter school, Madison Preparatory Academy, to address an achievement gap in which barely half of black and Hispanic children graduate from high school in the Madison public schools.
Caire mentioned as the two worst offenders in this campaign of dishonesty T.J. Mertz, candidate for School Board seat #5, and Green Party activist Ben Manski.
Manski’s wife, Sarah, jumped into the seat #5 race hoping to squeeze out an already announced candidate, Latina immigrant Ananda Mirilli. Sarah Manski’s candidacy was apparently encouraged by both Mayor Paul Soglin, who gave her a glowing campaign testimonial, and teachers union boss John Matthews, to whom Soglin referred Sarah Manski. On Dec. 30, Ben Manski blasted an email containing this outright distortion of minority candidate Ananda Mirilli’s position:
One of Sarah’s opponents in this 3-way race is a supporter of using public tax dollars to fund private schools. She was recruited by the former head of a Bradley Foundation-funded group that promotes the corporate takeover of public education.
Ms. Mirilli denied to Blaska’s Bring It! last week that she supported vouchers for private schools. She has been a supporter of Madison Prep, which, as a charter school, is a public school. Two days after winning the primary, and squeezing out third-place finisher Mirilli, Sarah Manski withdrew from the race, although her name will remain on the ballot for the April 2 general election.
Ben Manski’s reference to “head of a Bradley Foundation-funded group” is taken as a swipe at Caire. Both Manskis, by the way, report to John Nichols in his role as president of the George Soros-funded Liberty Tree Foundation. Nichols has defended the Manskis’ role in the school board mess.
Kaleem Caire: ‘We should all worry about the future of our schools’
Caire wrote, in a memo dated Feb. 4:
We [Urban League] were categorically painted as an anti-union conservative outfit who proposed a flawed school model that divided Madison and threatened to join the Scott Walker effort to eliminate unions. We were made to be the great dividers (not the achievement gap itself) and me, “an Angry Black Man.”
The question of all the candidates has been largely narrowed to, “Did you support Madison Prep or did you not?”…as if something was horribly wrong with our charter school proposal, and as though that is the most important issue facing our school children and schools.
Lost in the debate were the reasons we proposed the school in the first place – because so many children of color were failing in our schools and there was no effective strategy in place to address it ... two of the people behind the attacks on [Urban League of Greater Madison] were Ben Manski and TJ Mertz. They were uniquely aligned in their opposition to Madison Prep.
John Matthews even weighed in on video with his comments against us, but at least he ... didn’t call us union haters or teacher bashers. He knew better. ...
If all it takes to win a seat on the school board now is opposition to charter schools, rather than being someone who possesses unique experiences and qualifications to serve our now majority non-white and low-income student body and increasingly challenged schools, we should all worry about the future of our children and public schools.
Read Caire’s memo in its entirety here.
It is clear to Blaska’s Bring It! that the underachieving minority students in the Madison district are being used as pawns in the Left’s ongoing jihad against Republican Gov. Scott Walker. Ironically, they are only helping make his case for more school choice, not less.