No thousand points of light here!
One sees those “DIVERSITY” stickers on every other Prius bumper here in the Emerald City. But Madison is a community that demands rigid conformity to the approved liberal dogma. Stray off the plantation and fear the consequences.
Fear being called a racist for running against an incumbent alderman, who is black. Fear being harassed and physically jostled for speaking out for safety and security in our public schools.
Now we learn that even tenured professors at UW-Madison are afraid! Afraid to review independent charter school applications submitted to a state agency. So afraid that they had to be assured of complete anonymity before doing so.
Out these free-thinkers now!
Madison School Board member T.J. Mertz filed an open records request for the names of the people recruited by the to review applications for Isthmus Montessori Academy on the city’s North Side and One City Schools preschool on the South Side.
Gary Bennett, director of the University of Wisconsin System’s Office of Educational Opportunity (OEO) told the Wisconsin State Journal that he couldn’t get education professors to review charter applications …
… because they worried that if such work became known, it could hurt their careers, and reviewers working in schools worried about the possibility of their employers questioning why they were helping competitors.
So, of course, school board member T.J. Mertz demanded that these reviewers be unmasked.
UW System public records coordinator Katie Patten responded that the reviewers were promised anonymity and would not have agreed to work with OEO without it.
“There is a highly charged political atmosphere in the Madison area on the charter school issue,” Patten wrote. “It is expected that if the identities of the reviewers were released, these individuals would suffer considerable backlash from forces opposed to having charter schools.”
Hectoring Kaleem Caire
One of those charters these fearful appraisers recommended for approval was Kaleem Caire’s own One City Schools pre-school on the minority-rich South Side.
Because Madison’s union-first education establishment will tolerate no competition. No thousand points of light for the Madison public school monopoly. One point will do just fine, thank you.
Mr. Caire should be accustomed to that by now. Seven years ago the Madison Board of Education deep-sixed the charter school he proposed, during his term at the Urban League, for at-risk black youth: Madison Preparatory Academy. The head of the teachers union, the night of the vote, whispered into the ears of several of the school board members up on stage in full view of the audience, then left. His ducks were in a row to turn down Kaleem’s innovative proposal.
To his credit, rather than pout, Mr. Caire developed One City. No thanks to the Madison school district.
Get out of town by sunset
Ed Hughes was one of those board members who toed the teachers union line then. He’s still carrying their water. The Wisconsin State Journal reports:
In a sign of how the Madison district is responding to subsequent charter applications, former Madison School Board member Ed Hughes said he went before the Goodman Community Center’s board on the district’s behalf on Sept. 24 to express the district’s opposition to another proposed non-district charter school, Arbor Community School, which was looking to partner with the Goodman center.
Cheatham actually wrote UW System president Ray Cross demanding that Arbor be deep-sixed or “at the very least” be exiled somewhere outside the city of Madison.
Last year, the board also rejected a charter for Isthmus Montessori.
To think that all these schools could have been managed under the Madison Metro School District umbrella.
“Outcomes, not institutional self-interests’
We’ll leave the final word to OEO director Gary Bennett:
“The impact of trying to control who can say yes to a school, delay authorization, and harm new concepts all have the impact of blocking access to methods and options that should exist. If we are ever going to get equity we are going to have to focus on outcomes over institutional self-interests.”
On second thought: let’s end with T.J. Mertz. The WI State Journal asks whether he is biassed against charter schools in Madison. His answer: “So what?”
Blaska’s Bottom Line: Hate on Governor Walker all you like — Scott Walker is the only reason Madison has Isthmus Montessori and Mr. Caire’s One City Schools.