Good News, Too 

The Whitehorse story along with the spring elections for the Madison School Board, at times, tend to further a narrative that much is wrong with what takes place in the classrooms.  But if we only pay attention to that narrative we would miss the good work that is happening in our schools.   A teacher and her nineteen fifth-graders, while not making top of the fold coverage, is the flip side to the news we all have come to know.

Two weeks ago my partner, James, and I sat for an hour in a very busy and creative classroom at Falk Elementary School.  Over the school year a number of adults sponsored a student so that each month a new book landed in their hands.  The effort was made possible in tandem with Scholastic Books and related services.  The school reached out to say thanks with Read Your Heart Out Day.  What I witnessed made an impression that lifted my spirit about teachers, students, and our schools.

Via The Other Madison Classroom | CAFFEINATED POLITICS

School referenda on the ballot

We’ll see if this trend of large amounts of school referenda in recent years starts to fade with both the aid increases, and because of a provision in the state budget that limits schools to 2 referendum questions a year, and limits the dates those referenda can take place. But the continued large amount of referenda (66 questions on Tuesday) shows that one pre-election bump by the Governor hasn’t come close to filling in the gaps of 6 prior years of state cuts to K-12 education and limits on property taxes to make up the difference.

Via Jake’s Wisconsin Funhouse: The other big item on tomorrow’s ballot- school referenda.

‘Carcass on Roadside’

After 7 years of Scott Walker, the collapse of our state colleges has now begun:

Chancellor Bernie Patterson said UWSP is facing a “perfect storm” caused by declining enrollment, 15 years of state budget cuts, and the state imposed tuition freeze.

University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point students held a sit-in in front of the chancellor’s office on to protest the planned elimination of academic majors in the humanities (like) American studies, art, English, French, German, Spanish, philosophy, political science, history, geography, geoscience, music literature and sociology. The cuts come as the school faces a $4.5 million structural deficit.

Via DemoCurmudgeon: Republicans leave Wisconsin’s Hollowed Out Education Carcass on Roadside.


The district wants $32.7 million NOW to spend on a laundry list of items and a tax increase FOREVER to spend on whatever they can think of. Both of these referenda are ridiculous, but the one to permanently increase taxes above the state limit is downright offensive. But as West Bend begins the search for a new superintendent, it’s worth taking note of what’s going on in Menomonee Falls.

Via Consistent Performance in Menomonee Falls @ Boots & Sabers.


Wisconsin has truly become a red state, not for elections, but for its college graduates. As recently as a decade ago this was a state where college graduates had a lower average level of debt. Not any more.From 2004 to 2014 the average debt of college grads in Wisconsin soared, rising from $16,560 to $28,810. That was a jump of 74 percent, a bigger hike than all but six states. Wisconsin now ranks higher than all but two states in the proportion of students — 70 percent — with debts.

Via Murphy’s Law: Wisconsin Student Debt Is Soaring @ Urban Milwaukee.


The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism report comes from reporter Abby Becker. She talked to students of color who expressed discomfort in majority white schools. She also compared test scores between the different groups.


“You’ve heard it before; Republican Governors say they want to replace Common Core with a unique statewide educational policy. Local, local, local!!! Except when they don’t. Are ready for another right wing lie? What does a supposed Wisconsin “centered” curriculum really looks like under conservative authority rule: WSJ: A 6-year-old student went to school at…

WISGOP Rep. Kremer’s Bill

Most alarming about Rep. Kremer’s original bill is that he didn’t even ask members of the transgender community for input when he wrote it. His response to his bill possibly being perceived as “mean-spirited” also resulted in a “blame the victim” rant.

If [transgender students] really are concerned about this and they do identify as someone else, I don’t see why they’d like to make a big stink about it. If you’re making a big deal about it …you obviously are inviting harassment and bullying already. Why would you not want to avoid that and go quietly to the district and make other arrangements?

Emphasis in bold added.

Via A better way forward for transgender students @ Political Heat.

WISGOP Rep. Kremer’s Bill on Transgender Students

Rep. Jesse Kremer (R-Kewaskum) seems to believe that accommodations to transgender students represents a considerable threat to their peers. His fears are greatly misplaced.

Kremer is proposing a bill that would limit the rights of local school districts to grant transgender students the dignity to use restrooms that correspond to the gender they identify with. The lawmaker apparently disregards gender identity and is more preoccupied with anatomy to care about what’s best for students overall….

His words towards those students are especially alarming. (Emphasis in bold added)

I don’t see why they’d [transgender students] like to make a big stink about it. If you’re making a big deal about it … you obviously are inviting harassment and bullying already.

Bullying and mistreatment of transgender students, it seems to Kremer, is the fault of those students themselves.

Via School restrooms bill is derived from ignorance and misinformation @ Political Heat.

Hypnosis Settlement

The principal seems to have been trying to help students (and staff member) deal with various psychological problems through hypnosis, and delivered his services to “at least 75 people at the school.” The students died through suicide (in 2 cases, both by hanging) and a car accident (in which the young man reportedly had “a strange look on his face” before going off the interstate).

I can’t figure out what the cause and effect was, but the school district chose to pay rather than to fight over it.

Via “School District to Pay $600,000 Over Death of Teens Who Were Hypnotized by Principal” @ Althouse.

Pewaukee District Closed

Pewaukee School District Superintendent JoAnn Sternke informed parents of the closure in a letter released by the station Thursday evening.

“This decision is being made because we are committed to the safety of all our students and staff,” Sternke wrote.

According to Sternke, a hand-written message reading “There will be a school shooting on Friday, October 2nd” was found at Pewaukee High School sometime on Thursday.

Via Wis. school district cancels Friday classes after threatening message found @ Fox News.

Just not right

Email sent to everyone:

“If you let my lunch bag go now that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you, but if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you and I will kill yell at you. To the low life who literally stole my lunch and dinner, please have the decency to at least return my WLC lunch bag to the kitchen. I just want Ruthey to get home safely.”

Via Somebody at Cornell Law School stole a law student’s Ruth Bader Ginsburg lunch bag @ Althouse.

Contract for Statewide Exam Goes to Connected Political Donor  

Susan Engeleiter, chief executive officer and president of DRC, was the Republican Senate minority leader in the 1980s. She also ran an unsuccessful campaign against former U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, a Democrat, in 1988.

Engeleiter gave Walker’s campaign $10,000 in October 2014 and $500 to state Superintendent Tony Evers in 2013, according to Wisconsin Democracy Campaign records.

Via State picks former Republican lawmaker’s company to create test to replace Badger Exam @ State Journal

Backward in Beloit

This week, after a tweet by feminist Abi Bechtel went viral, Target stores agreed to abandon gendered separation of kids’ toys and bedding. Word is getting out: Sex stereotyping will not fly in 2015. If you think gender-separation of toys is bad, what about sex separation of kids? Consider the following examples drawn from the Beloit Area School District in Wisconsin, which had separated boys and girls into separate academic classes….

Via The 8 Crazy Stereotypes Used in Wisconsin to Justify Single-Sex Classes and How They’re Boomeranging Back on Administrators @ American Civil Liberties Union.