Liberal Madison congratulates itself for good intentions

The sweetest sound you’ll ever hear:

David Blaska was right!

The news media loves to imagine itself as the afflicter of the comfortable,  David with his slingshot v. Goliath. “J’accuse!” in 96-point bodoni bold type. Edward R. Murrow starring down Tailgunner Joe. Bogart starting the presses in Deadline USA. Woodward and Bernstein. 


The Great Gatsby Party, 2015 - Credit: Lauren Spinelli Photography

Thank you for reinforcing our beliefs, Jennifer. (The Great Gatsby Party, 2015 – Credit: Lauren Spinelli Photography)



In Madison, too many news media “gatekeepers” just want to be invited to the cocktail party. The editor of The Capital Times was invited to the cocktail party. Paul Fanlund expresses his gratitude this way:

The setting was the ornate Roosevelt room at the Madison Club, where assorted community leaders were gathered for a reception to thank and send off Jennifer Cheatham six years after she arrived from Chicago to lead Madison’s public schools as its superintendent.

Fanlund asks “Did Madison do right by Jennifer Cheatham?”
Shouldn’t the question be reversed?
Did Jennifer Cheatham do right by Madison?

Jennifer Cheatham

Privileged White Woman

Neil is IN with the IN Crowd

Neil Heinen of Madison Magazine and WISC TV-3 is also a member of the In Crowd. He penned “An appreciation for Jen Cheatham” much in the manner of Ode to a Grecian Urn. 

Her Strategic Framework — that’s right “her” Strategic Framework — for the success of every child, was the most comprehensive. It was the most research-grounded blueprint for district-wide excellence I’ve encountered in more than 40 years of writing about Madison schools.

Neil is not alone in his hero worship. He name-drops an A-list of Madison movers and shakers with whom he rubs elbows in the same Group-thinking bubble:

Cheatham enjoyed the support and affection of a remarkable group of civic leaders. Centro Hispano Executive Director Karen Menendez Coller, Urban League of Greater Madison President and CEO Ruben Anthony, Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce President Zach Brandon, United Way of Dane County President and CEO Renee Moe, Madison College President Jack E. Daniels, 100 Black Men of Madison President Floyd Rose and Bishop Harold Rayford.

Oh, sure, “Cheatham is criticized for top-down management,” Neil huffs. But …

No superintendent will ever win the approval of every teacher or staff member. [Huff & Puff] However, Cheatham won more approval from both groups than any of the previous seven or so superintendents I’ve covered. Those who did not approve made themselves heard. But dig a little deeper and the respect and appreciation was easy to uncover.

Culture of fear

Comment BlackRuth Coniff did dig a little deeper. Scanning the same cast of glitterati standing behind Cheatham as she announced her departure in May,  Coniff noticed this:Glaringly absent were any teachers or school staff.”

Teachers are afraid to go on the record criticizing Cheatham, even as she leaves. They cite her top-down leadership style, a culture of fear, increasing pressure to do more with less, and, above all, the feeling that Cheatham has not had their backs in making what she describes as “transformational change” in the Madison public schools. 

None of this would matter if the Cheatham regime produced results. Instead, student achievement scores remain stuck in mediocre; 60% of African-American kids still read below basic proficiency. 


Madison student achievement scores

Madison student achievement scores in math and reading as measured by DPI

Student suspensions are down only because Cheatham needs to make the racial numbers work. She imposes “restorative justice” in glorified study halls, often unsupervised, that neither restore nor provide justice.

The school board meetings themselves were mosh pits. Just imagine the chaos in the classroom. The disorder does not stop at the schoolhouse door. Kids are stealing cars and wrecking them all over town. It’s an epidemic.

After-school kids trash Lakeview Library, then greet responding police this way: “We don’t have to listen to the police. You can’t touch us.” They did not learn that in school. But they didn’t unlearn it there, either. 

The teacher who blew the whistle on the chaos at Mendota middle school discovered that the hard way. Madison’s school superintendent threw Karen Vieth under the school bus. “How dare a teacher criticize a principal of color?” Cheatham thundered, even though the teacher never once mentioned race.

Blaska’s Bottom Line: The truth is, Jennifer Cheatham traded accountability and academic achievement for a fresh new race card — good wherever playing identity politics is the winning hand. After six years, Jennifer Cheatham is off to Harvard to stamp out more guilty liberal enablers.

What do YOU think?

For Extra Credit: Study shows federal school discipline policy is not working, reported at RightWisconsin. It’s why Ms. Vicki McKenna says “David Blaska is right.” And y’know something? She’s right!

About David Blaska

Madison WI
This entry was posted in Madison schools, School Board Election 2019 and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Liberal Madison congratulates itself for good intentions

  1. Libertarian Lars says:

    Ask any teacher in Madison schools, who isn’t to afraid to talk, and they recognize the rot brought by Cheatham, and those who came before.
    A principle that shall remain nameless, home schooled his 2 daughters.
    Another talked about the chaos in the classrooms.
    Enough said.


  2. dad29 says:

    Noted: there is not ONE for-profit ‘leader’ mentioned in the list of Cheatham admirers. Jes’ sayin’…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Paula Fitz says:

    Your Bottom Line sums it up quite succinctly. And yes, of course you’re right! You’re one of the few people in this city who has the courage of his convictions.

    In my opinion, anyone who is capable of throwing a trusted colleague under the bus, is someone who is void of integrity. I think she deserves every bit of criticism that was leveled at her.

    I also think people who knowingly plays games with serious issues (and thus puts societal needs at risk) for personal gain or accolades, need to do a serious internal inventory. I’m not sure how people live with themselves.

    They can have their cliques and in-crowds. Been part of some that were much more impressive than this crew’s during my lifetime – and I can tell you, they’re phony and hollow. I’d much rather be true to myself and to the truth, even if it means not on someone’s superficial list.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. madisonexpat says:

    Above photo caption, “Putting lipstick on the pig.”


  5. Cornelius Gotchberg says:

    The Road to Hell (with an on ramp to SERFDOM) is paved with Good Intentions!

    The Gotch


    • Batman says:

      Thanks Gotch!!
      A must read to better understand the present assault on our cultural foundation.

      The Road to Serfdom with The Intellectuals and Socialism
      the condensed version of the road to serfdom
      by f. a. hayek as it appeared in the april 1945 edition of reader’s digest

      Click to access Road%20to%20serfdom.pdf

      A focal point of The Road to Serfdom was to offer an explanation for the rise of Nazism, to correct the popular and erroneous view that it was caused by a character defect of the German people.
      What happened in Germany? Hayek explains, ‘The supreme tragedy is still not seen that in Germany it was largely people of good will who, by their socialist policies, prepared the way for forces which stand for everything they detest’.

      Hayek argues that the roots of collectivism have nowhere originated among working-class people. Its roots lie among intellectuals – the people Hayek refers to as ‘second-hand dealers in ideas’ – who had to work long and hard to get working-class people to accept the vision they put forward. The intellectuals or secondhand dealers in ideas to whom he refers are journalists, teachers, ministers, radio commentators, cartoonists and artists, who Hayek says ‘are masters of the technique of conveying ideas but are usually amateurs so far as the substance of what they convey is concerned’.


      • Cornelius Gotchberg says:


        When “Intellectuals and Socialism” collide, it’s the self-anointed former (with attendant Useful Idiots) first pushed up against a wall; the ensuing outcome less than pleasant, if you know what I mean.

        Never Interfere With An Enemy While He’s In The Process of Destroying Himself; (N. Bonaparte)

        The Gotch


      • David Blaska says:

        Anyone who quotes Hayek is a-O.K. in my book.


  6. Ana says:

    Madison’s mainstream newspapers are covering their cowardliness, for having chosen not to write about school chaos and violence, by cheering Cheatham as she finally leaves our city and returns to Harvard. Yes, she gets good points for bringing forward a discussion of equity. But not clearly reporting the failure of the behavior plan, and Cheathams’s reply of “racism” to all criticism , was a journalistic dereliction of duty.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Batman says:

      Gee willikers Ana, of course not reporting a fair and balanced assessment of Jen Cheatsus is a dereliction of duty according to any objective rational thinking mammal, however in the current twilight zone of SJW PC culture Madison’s MSM rags are fighting the good fight, doing their duty, end justifies the means, helping pave the road to perdition for anyone right of center, succumbing to fear of being challenged by loudmouth bully SJW grifters, exhibiting paucity of historical knowledge, playing their part in advancing cultural suicide, blind allegiance to stupid failed Lefty policies, etc.
      In other words, being proper obedient Lefty tools.

      Let us pray.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Cornelius Gotchberg says:


        If you feel strongly about this, no need to mince words….

        The Gotch


      • Ana says:

        Do you think that they worry about their business model? I know many ex-progressives who actually used to have the mainstream papers delivered to their front door. Sure, many have gone digital. But many, now quote Blaska and the Isthmus…at least when it comes to school issues.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Cornelius Gotchberg says:

    Sunday’s front page: (Jennifer Cheatham Hopes She Positioned Madison School District To Get To ‘Next Level’ On Racial Equity/Logan Wroge)

    A more pathetic puff piece portraying a plethora of pucker-pressing platitudes one may never find.

    Think most of the teachers, parents, and other stake-holding parties would agree that the MMSD on any track, let alone the right one, to get to this idyllic Next Level?

    If they say yes, they’ll lie to you about other things as well.

    The Gotch anxiously awaits a Chris Rickert, or a Dylan Brogan (The Isthmus) article which will do some actual objective reporting rather that the above, which inspires no on the sane side of Crazy Guggenheim.

    The Gotch


  8. Anne R. says:

    You may be right, she may be crazy! I don’t go for these fake conservatives who are all knee jerk and no substance. I guess I’m just a George Will conservative:)


  9. George's Son says:

    RE: 2015 Gatsby Photo, not sure which is “witch”. Much easier to ID via “White Guilt onna graphic scale of 1-10” . 10 being our mayor, and zero being the rest of us. RE: Stats. While A-Bobster and Richard ignore actual facts, these TRUE facts are appalling. No doubt -NOT enuff White Guilt and Social Justice goin’ on yet…. But wait, ye of little faith, it’s comin’…. . At this rate, Ms. Cheat’em will be raised to sainthood soon. Blind top down management, wherein the populace is assumed to know nuthin’ is the rule when the vocal minority rules. As Batman aptly quotes, “‘The supreme tragedy is…. that in Germany it was largely people of good will who, by their socialist policies, prepared the way for forces which stand for everything they detest”. True dat !


  10. Bob Dane says:

    Check this out:
    As the new mayor says, Madison can do better.


    • Batman says:

      Thanks Bob Dane.
      Excellent report on headmistress Birbalsingh and the remarkable success of Michaela School utilizing time honored methods that DB is routinely labeled a racist white supremacist for advocating. Should be required reading for Madison school board.

      From the report:

      Children at an inner London state school in one of the roughest, most deprived, ethnically diverse parts of Britain have won spectacular results in their exams.

      Why does the success of the Michaela School so infuriate the left?

      Because though the headmistress Katharine Birbalsingh is black, she’s the wrong kind of black: a conservative who doesn’t believe in playing the race card or identity politics.

      Because though the kids come from largely working-class, migration-background families, they are the wrong kind of working-class immigrants: ones who don’t know their role is to be victims and to blame their failures on racism and government inaction.

      Because though the results are some of the best in the country, they were achieved using the wrong kind of methods: not the “child-centered”, supposedly creativity-nurturing, discipline-lite laissez-faire approach as recommended by the leftist educational establishment — aka the Blob — but with teaching methods so rigorous and demanding that classes are like a cross between a Trappist monastery and a Marine boot camp.


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