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Mar 15, 201308:28 AMBlaska's Bring It!

with David Blaska

Manski and Democrats used Madison’s minorities as partisan cannon fodder

(page 2 of 2)

No control is more local than the kitchen table

The irony, of course, is that Scott Walker, various Koch Brothers, ALEC, WMC, the Bradley Foundation – and all the rest of the hobgoblins conjured by the conspiracy weavers running Madison’s political machine – had nothing to do with Madison’s minority achievement gap. Liberals have owned Madison’s public schools for at least the last 40 years. They own its problems.

Remember that the next time you see a letter penned by the Raging Grannies* of School Boards Past defending the status quo; they being Carol Carstensen, Barbara Arnold, Anne Arnesen, and Nan Brien (Sarah Manski’s campaign treasurer).

Now that its stranglehold on the people is in jeopardy, the Madison Political Machine is doubling down its protection of the institution at the expense of the people it was intended to serve.

Gov. Walker has proposed to allow parents in failing school districts to use school vouchers, wherein the state’s per-pupil payment follows the child. It’s only an advisory vote, but the Madison School Board voted 7-0 against the idea. Surprised? If you ran the monopoly feed store, would you vote to allow competition? 

Progressives spend sleepless nights fearful that ordinary citizens will make their own decisions. Proponents of big government, like my friend Dave Zweifel, are appalled at this affront to the gatekeepers:

Instead of school boards, mayors and village presidents making decisions about the kinds of schools and municipal rules they want for their own communities. 

Should majority rule trump individual choice?

Or – what say parents make decisions about their schools? Yes, parents can choose private schools now – but first they must pay for the public schools they don’t attend. A great business model.

State Sen. Mike Ellis, a Republican, is just as bad. He wants a referendum before permitting school vouchers. If the vote is 99 to 1 opposed, why fear that one family will make its own decision? If the vote is 50 to 49 against, are the big government elites really going to hold those 49 hostage to the government-controlled monopoly?

The progressives have it upside down. They regard the public schools as an institutional end in themselves and not a means to an end. The Machine fears allowing individual families to choose alternatives – they might make the wrong (non-union) choice.

That was the Manski campaign slogan: “For Our Public Schools” – not “For Teaching Our Children.”

Some credit must be given to The Capital Times, which I have mercilessly pilloried this week, for endorsing James Howard and Wayne Strong in the two remaining contested school board races. I’ll temper that by speculating that they backed themselves into that corner by slavishly defending Sarah Manski. We have already documented the resulting backlash from Madison’s minority community. Face must be saved.

Vote Manski – As for the remaining seat, we urge you to vote Manski. Her name remains on the ballot. Send a message: You don’t like being played by the Manski-ites and you don’t buy T.J. Mertz’s slavish devotion to the teachers union.

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Comments, page 1 of 2 1 2 Next »
Mar 15, 2013 11:55 am
 Posted by  Anonymous


I caught your schtick on WPR this morning. You sure stepped in it again. Comparing the Ladysmith mine to the proposed Gtac project is either willfull ignorance or a disingenuous attempt to put lip stick on a pig. Do some research before you make a fool of yourself in front of a large audience. If not what credibility you have left will be shot.

Matt from oop nort.

Mar 15, 2013 12:20 pm
 Posted by  uwbiz96

You've used the argument that competition makes for better schools before and it seems to inform your argument here. But the reason why BETTER public schools should be the destination and not just a means to an end is because competition means there has to be a loser. Right now it's not a question who the losers are. They will remain the losers under a school choice plan, a voucher plan, a charter plan or any of the other dogmatic strategies out there. The only way they win is when truly public schools, open to all and incented to approach each child individually, have the resources to do fulfill their roles. Can a private solution outperform public schools in certain areas? Of course it can! But it can never do right by ALL those who show up to attend classes, which is the promise of public schools.

Madison is small enough to have an effective magnet strategy, which hasn't been discussed. The teachers union doesn't seem to represent its membership in the area of innovative charter schools (which many teachers would kill to be part of) and that needs to be addressed. The impact of poverty, homelessness and learning disabilities on the whole system has not been adequately addressed. None of this benefits from political flamethrowing. So where's the leadership? Who is setting the example and working to get stakeholders together instead of driving them apart for political expediency?

Who benefits from having the teachers and taxpayers at each other's throats? Other than the political class, that is? Certainly not those of us who are trying to run businesses in Dane County.

Mar 15, 2013 01:00 pm
 Posted by  David Blaska

Here is a quote from Madison School Board member Ed Hughes from TheDailyPage:

"As a current School Board member, I get pretty incensed at candidates who are running to further their own career – or, God help me, to advance the agenda of the national Green Party -- or to express their opposition to Scott Walker or anything other than to help us address the substantial challenges we face in preparing all our students for the world they’ll inherit."

To UWBIZ: You say someone must win and someone must lose. That is not an undesirable outcome. Kaypro and Atari had their day but lost out to Apple and Microsoft. Competition. But also consider, competition can improve both competitors. That's called Win/Win.

Now for the surreptitious Matt Logan, so readers will understand what I said on radio this morning (It will explain why Logan did not provide any context -- it unmakes whatever case he is trying to make): The Ladysmith mine was a copper mine ... one that used chemicals in the ore recovery, unlike the proposed iron mine in Iron County, which will use magnets. It closed in 1997. Now it is a park with a clear lake open for recreation called "Copper Park." Even the liberal-leaning Federal Judge Barbara Crabb affirmed the Flambeau Mining Company upheld its committment to the Clean Water Act and is not in violation. Judge Crabb’s ruling referenced the company’s “exemplary efforts to protect the environment during its mining operations and reclamation effort” and that, “These efforts deserve commendation, not penalties.”

I also said Progressives (like Matt Logan) suppose they can cure poverty but they can't figure how to pull iron from the ground.

Mar 15, 2013 01:16 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous


Once more you are dead wrong. I am not Matt Logan, nor do I know who he is. But if he gets you all bent out of shape he is my friend.

And once again you are comparing the closed Ladysmith copper mine to the Gtac taconite proposal. It is an apples to oranges comparison, and, if you are as smart as you claim, you know it is a bogus comparison and are willfully propagating false information. And you call yourself a journalist, bull!

But maybe if you keep digging that hole you are working on it will need some permits. See how that works for ya.

Matt from oop nort.

Mar 15, 2013 02:46 pm
 Posted by  David Blaska

You're the one claiming the comparison b/w Ladysmith cooper mine to the Iron County iron mine is bogus. Make the case. (If anything, a copper mine has more potential for pollution than iron.) And while you're making wild, unsupported charges, how about identifying what (in your opinion) is false information.

Mar 16, 2013 02:13 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous


1). Ladysmith was a copper mine, Gtac is an iron mine. Big difference. Score: Matt 1, dave 0.

2). Ladysmith was several hundred acres. The Gtac mine could be many square miles ( 640 acres/square mile). Score: Matt 2, dave 0.

3). The duration of the Ladysmith mine was less than a decade. Gtac could be 2-3 times that. Score" Matt 3, dave 0.

4). I'll give you a half point on the "a copper mine has more potential for pollution than iron", but only because Gtac hasn't released any environmental documents or the results of any studies. Information submitted in testimony from the USGS would lead one to believe that the Gtac project, because of the type of overburden and the scale of the excavation and the lack of detail as to treatment processes, could be just as bad or worse than Ladysmith. Score: Matt 3.5, dave .5.

5). Ladysmith had problems (you can look that up), but you can't make any claim they were lily-white. To make any claim that Gtac would be without issues would be ridiculous at this point in time. Score: Matt 4.5, dave .5.

6). None of my claims are unsupported, and I would think as a "journalist" you would have check out these and any other claims before spouting off with your opinion. Score: Matt 5.5, dave .5.

I'll stop now. Nobody can say that I didn't give you a chance.

Matt from oop nort.

Mar 17, 2013 11:41 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

David, you say that MMSD school board would have the authority of shutting down Madison Prep if it wasn't working. Do you understand that this school was non-instrumental, which specifically means they don't have to report to the school board? In simple terms the school board would not be able to close it down if it was not successful. The Madison Prep board has a history of people on the board who do not support affordable housing or giving kids a break in their education - another reason for me not supporting this program. Funny, it is the loudest people in this town who are yelling race, when actually it isn't race, but income that is making the difference. But typical reporters, they don't understand that when the report came out saying it was race, they didn't understand that poverty numbers are only based on those who are willing to share their income with the school district. Many of us are too proud to say we need help with feeding our children - we do it by sending cold lunches everyday with our children, not go out to eat, and get 2nd hand clothing for our children. But, I guess, we don't matter in the eyes of people like Blaska.

Mar 17, 2013 11:53 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

You have wrong information in this peace or at least don't understand the data that was quoted. Yes in the year 2009-2010 there were 48% blacks who graduated in 4 years. But why don't you ever include the numbers where there were another group that graduated within another year? Why don't you add the number who work with the school district to get their GEDs? Why don't you ever quote the percentage of white who are "college ready". Oh those numbers would not help you in the libertarian cause of killing the public school system.

How many articles have you beat the old drum dead on the school board race? I for one thought Mertz was the best candidate and I am getting very sick of you and Caire crying in spilt milk. I am one who votes on both sides of the aisle. But with people like you, Caire, and Eugene Parks, I run from what you guys think are good plans because there always seem to be something shady in your tactics because not all the information is ever shared but you do yell the loudest.

Mar 17, 2013 12:23 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

You could be making a difference in the lives of these same students who are at risk. Are you tutoring or mentoring any of these students? We would all know if you were because you love to blow your own horn. Maybe instead of pointing fingers at everyone else, look in the mirror at yourself. You could be changing the lives of a few children all by yourself. And if you don't like Madison Schools, no one is saying you have to live here, move, that is your choose as it is for everyone else.

As far as vouchers, why should we as taxpayers, pay for people like you to send your kids to parocial schools? You are an idiot if you think that almost every family who has kids at Edgewood wouldn't jump at taking the voucher - it isn't like the parocial/private schools in town don't already have waiting lists? So we are suppose to pay for the doctor's/lawyer's kid to go to an elist school in the Jaguar, while kids in the public school system are paying to ride the city bus or walk 2 miles to school. People like you are the problem why so many kids feel they are entitled to everything and they will get out of high school/college and make $75,000 their first year in the work force.

Mar 17, 2013 08:00 pm
 Posted by  coolkevs

I read the State Journal piece today and saw that Mary Burke was planning on writing Mirilli in anyway and was encouraging other people to do so. Why aren't you suggesting that? Just a hopeless case either way I gather. The school board seems like a thankless job anyway - I briefly thought about it myself ( 2 school-age kids), but my "other" ideas probably wouldn't be looked upon too kindly by my "enlightened" neighbors here in Madistan.
Kevin B

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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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