Conservatives wrecked Madison public schools. Somehow

It’s the Fitzgeralds’ fault. Or ALEC, Faux News, or the Bradley Foundation. Perhaps the real boogeyman is that evil mastermind Karl Rove, speaking through a microphone implanted on the back of George W.’s suit coat.

That is the explanation offered by our liberal acquaintances for the failure of Madison’s schools to educate their growing minority-race population. If that’s the best they can do, I say Bring It!

For our liberal/progressive acquaintances have run out of excuses. After all, they have owned the public school system, through the teachers union and its Democratic Party subsidiary, for the last 30 years or so.

Nowhere more so than in Madison, Wis., where not a single conservative serves on the 20-member Common Council, where the seven members of the current Madison School Board range on the political spectrum from Left-liberal to Hugo Chavez. (Beth Moss, Marjorie Passman, and Arlene Silveira are Progressive Dane.)

History, not conspiracy: The Left has had its hands on the controls of city government since Paul Soglin beat Bill Dyke in 1973 and the Madison School Board since forever.

Madison’s dominant Left is gagging a fur ball because its public schools have failed the very people liberal/progressives claim to champion. The Madison Metro School District graduates fewer than half – 48% – of its black students and only 56% of its Latinos.

Blacks and Latinos, where would they be without the tender ministrations of the liberal welfare state – living evidence of Republican perfidy! Clucked and cooed over in the tenured parlors of well-meaning West Side liberals – people like Nan Brien, Anne Arnesen, Barbara Arnold, and Carol Carstensen. All four ladies presided over this educational debacle as former Madison School Board members. Despite all evidence, these liberals are not one bit abashed by their failure, so strong is their faith in the powers of more spending and more government.

The Urban League’s school must not be approved, the four women write, because “Madison Prep will not be accountable to the Madison School Board nor to the taxpayers of Madison.” Touching, this sudden concern for the taxpayer. (Madison Prep Academy would cost the school district $17-28 million over five years. Supt. Nerad’s plan would cost $105.6 million over five years.)

Some would say that the Madison School Board has not been accountable to its children of color OR its taxpayers.

The duty is to the students, not the institution

In actuality, Madison Prep would be MORE accountable. Give it three years to show results. If it doesn’t, pull the plug. Try THAT with the teachers union monopoly schools. Now here is a hunch: Supt. Nerad’s ambitious program can NOT succeed for the very fact that it will be administered by the public schools through its teachers union.

The public schools just cannot get up into the students’ faces like the Sisters of Notre Dame did in the parochial school of my day or like Kaleem Caire’s carefully selected instructors will at Madison Prep.

Yet, somehow the conservatives are to blame.

A campaign of character assassination against Kaleem Caire is well underway. Typical is this broadside from Ben Manski, the Green Party candidate for State Assembly from Madison:

“I can’t understand why (Caire) thinks … corporatization [The Left’s ultimate insult – Blaska] is a better strategy than working with unions, parents groups, education advocates, and students to fight for full funding for the schools, or than holding the district’s feet to the fire on its failure to attract and retain teachers of color.” (Quoted on the Forward Lookout website.)

“Working with the unions?”

“Working with the unions” translates into hoisting the white flag. The unions are death on independent charter schools, including that proposed by Kaleem Caire for students of color. The Madison School Board this past March rushed into a contract with Madison Teachers Inc. before Gov. Walker’s tools could be enacted. Then the school board last December voted 5-2 against Caire’s Madison Prep Academy on the grounds that it violated the teachers union contract!
Yes, the Walker budget cut education aid by about 10% across the state. Two points:

  1. That budget just took effect this school year.
  2. By requiring modest teacher contributions to pension and health care, the effect on education was virtually nil.

In fact, the median student-teacher ratio in Wisconsin increased from 13.27 last school year to 13.53 this school year, according to the November 2011 analysis of the Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators/Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. That is one extra kid for every four classrooms. Madison schools laid off zero teachers.

In any event, Madison taxpayers have opened wide their pocketbooks by passing referendum after referendum to blow the lid off state spending restrictions.

Madison spent $11,638 per pupil in the 2009-10 school year, according to the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance. That’s a good 11% more than the statewide average of $10,464. (It compares to $10,535 in Middleton-Cross Plains, $10,362 in Sun Prairie, $9,534 in Stoughton, and $9,767 in Waunakee – to take a few surrounding communities.)
Kaleem Caire himself answers Manski’s calumny best:

“Ben, what did the liberal left/Progressive Dane and others in their company do to expose and eliminate the achievement gap in our public schools? I have been dismayed by the lack of attention my liberal friends have paid to the hardcore issues my people have faced while I was gone. A 48% graduation rate for Black youth and 56% graduation rate for Latino youth, and not one big push to change this. What’s up with that?”

Blaska brings it: It’s your failure, liberals. Own it!

Parting shots:

Paul Fanlund of The Capital Times insists on using that trite epithet “corporate puppet masters” to describe the Koch Brothers and other hobgoblins of the Left. Here’s one, Paul: “Union puppet masters” to describe the fixers who have anointed The Kathleen as the Democrats’ great white hope.

Even if he can’t bring himself to say it, Fanlund seems to recognize the issue by calling for Herb Kohl to run for governor.

Greeks are rioting in response to national austerity measures. Remind anyone of The Troubles closer to home? Feb. 14 marks the one-year anniversary of the Siege of The Capitol. The unionized Teaching Assistants marched to the Capitol from the UW campus on the Monday after Gov. Walker “dropped the bomb” the Friday before. I was there both days.